Aphasia and the Student Experience

Posted On February 23, 2018
Categories Uncategorized

Aphasia and the Student Experience: An Aphasia Awareness Article

Aphasia is an acquired language disorder caused by stroke or damage to the left hemisphere of the brain. According to the National Aphasia Association’s national survey, more than 200,000 people are affected by the disorder, but only less than 10% of people have heard of the term Aphasia. Even respondents who were aware of the disorder were unable to define the symptoms associated with Aphasia (National Aphasia Association, 2016). Disability Services at Georgia State is working hard to raise awareness of the intricacies of the disorder and offer better support for individuals who suffer from Aphasia.

Aphasia can cause issues related to a person’s ability to understand language as well as, their ability to read, write and perform several cognitive functioning tasks (i.e. memorization, attention and reasoning). One common symptom of Aphasia is difficulty in pronunciation, which makes simple daily communication a struggle.

Due to the complex limitations of this disorder, it may be especially challenging for individuals suffering from Aphasia to be successful in the classroom. Georgia State University prides itself on being an all-inclusive campus that provides equal opportunities for all students. It is important for students, staff and faculty to become conscious of the proper ways to communicate with a diagnosed person.

The following communication tips have been approved and suggested by the National Aphasia Association:

  • Make sure to have the person’s attention before speaking.
  • Minimize or eliminate background noise (TV, radio, other people).
  • Keep the voice at a normal level, unless the person has indicated otherwise.
  • Keep communication simple, while emphasizing keywords. Simplify sentence structure and reduce the rate of speech. Don’t talk down to the person with Aphasia.
  • Give the person time to speak. Resist the urge to finish sentences or offer words.
  • Communicate with drawings, gestures, writing and facial expressions in addition to speech.
  • Confirm that the communication is successful with yes and no questions.
  • Praise all attempts to speak and downplay any errors. Avoid insisting perfect word pronunciation.
  • Engage in normal activities as much as possible.
  • Encourage independence and avoid being overprotective.

An Aphasia diagnosis is a life-altering event for the individual, so appropriate overall support systems are critical. The number of individuals with Aphasia within the Georgia State University student body is unknown. Disability Services has the necessary academic resources and is committed to providing the crucial accommodations for students with such communicative disorder. Following registration with Disability Services, students with Aphasia may have access to academic support services such as note-taking, assistive technology (including smartpens) and digital voice recorders and more. Designated staff members and graduate assistants within Disability Services staff are available to provide academic coaching, per weekly scheduling as needed by the student.

To register with Disability Services, please stop by at the office to pick up the necessary paperwork or visit the website which outlines the process and provides access to the required forms.

For more information about Aphasia and how to help those affected by the disorder, visit aphasia.org.

National Aphasia Association, (2016). National Survey on Aphasia Awareness. Retrieved from aphasia.org.