According to the World Stroke Organisation, one in six people will be affected by stroke in their lifetime. And one in three stroke victims will experience some form of aphasia, a communication disability.
Aphasia makes communication with family and friends extremely difficult as it can affect an individualâ??s ability to speak, understand, read and/or write.
Speech therapist and audiologist, Caitlin Longman, offers the following tips when communicating with someone who has aphasia.
Tips for communicating with a person with aphasia:
1. Always be respectful when addressing an individual living with aphasia. People living with aphasia are intellectually competent and fully capable of participating in conversation.
2. Address the person with aphasia directly and never talk about them as if they are not in the room. If you want to speak for them always ask for their permission first.
3. Before starting a conversation, make sure you have the person’s attention.
4. Minimise background noise (TV and radio) which may interfere or disrupt a conversation.
5. Keep your own voice at a normal level, unless the person has indicated otherwise.
6. Keep communication simple but at an appropriate adult level. It may help to emphasise key words.
7. Be patient and give them time to speak. Do not finish their sentences or presume you know the word they want to say.
8. Some individuals living with aphasia benefit from alternative communication methods paired with speaking, like drawings, gestures, writing and facial expressions.
9. When communicating with an individual with aphasia always confirm that you are communicating successfully with “yes” and “no” questions or repeat the phrase/sentence.
10. It is important that people living with aphasia and their families are included in community activities and decision-making.
Giving people with aphasia a voice
Sponsored by the Vodacom Change the World programme, Longman teamed up with the talented photographer Valentina Nicol and Park Care Frail Care Centre in Johannesburg to create a stroke awareness and aphasia campaign using photography.
The idea was to allow stroke survivors an opportunity to send a message of hope or piece of advice to other individuals living with stroke and aphasia by placing their message on a chalk board and having their portrait taken with their message.
â??All the messages came from the stroke survivors themselves and it was a truly empowering experience,â? said Longman, â??The results have been powerful for both the residents and for the individuals whose lives they have touched.â?
You can view the full photo campaign on Longmanâ??s Pinterest board here. For more insight into how the condition affects people, watch this interview with Jan and Laverne, a married couple who both experienced strokes and are now living with different forms of aphasia.
Recommended reading: Are you at risk of having a stroke?
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