Living with Aphasia

Speaking Out Conference…

Downtown Chicago

During the last weekend of June, on June 26th, a Speaking Out conference took place in Chicago. This year’s conference was organized at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Thumbs up to  Dr. Leora Cherney and her team from RIC, as well as Ellayne Ganzfried and her team from the National Aphasia Association for organizing this great event. In addition to the conference, RIC also organized a professional development event “Updates in Aphasia Rehabilitation for the Practicing Speech-Language Pathologist” on June 23rd and 24th. Below is a brief summary of these two events. Continue reading the full article

SCALE’s Aphasia Friendly Business Campaign; Working with Businesses to Expand Services for People with Aphasia

In January 2011, the Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enhancement (SCALE) launched an “Aphasia-Friendly Business Campaign” to raise awareness of aphasia in Baltimore, build relationships with local businesses and encourage businesses to provide barrier-free access to products and services for people with communication disabilities.

Upon hearing the idea, Zen West Cantina manager, Lynn Gurley and owner Po Chang, immediately jumped at the opportunity to make their restaurant an Aphasia Friendly Business (AFB), but they could not have realized just how smooth and simple the transition would be. Once Gurley fully understood the effect that aphasia –a language impairment usually caused by stroke- has on communication, she realized that a menu with graphics and pictures could easily assist people with aphasia in placing their dinner order. Continue reading the full article

Promoting Wellness Through Action: HARC’s Aphasia Community Taskforce (ACT)

ACT participants(left to right): Joseph Nealy, Cheryl Adamson, Ruth Kamba, Linda Millman, Michael LeBourgeois, Pat Stalsby. Not pictured: Bruno Wesolek, Winston Goodrich and John McDowell.

What is Wellness? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, wellness is “the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal.” Dr. Blair Justice, author of A Different Kind of Health: Finding Well-Being Despite Illness, and one of the founders of the Houston Aphasia Recovery Center, quotes the U.S. Surgeon General, who said proper measure of health is not the absence of disease but a sense of well-being. Says Dr. Justice, “Well-being means having a deep and abiding sense that, despite the day’s woes, life is good. “ Wellness, then, is a state of health that includes many aspects of one’s life: exercise, eating right, psychological contentment, being productive, and generally doing for oneself what needs to be done in order to have an overall satisfying, and for some, superior quality of life. Dr. Justice defined this as “subjective health.” This is measured by one’s emotional and social well-being, which research has shown has a powerful effect on one’s physical health and even longevity.

For persons living with aphasia (PWA), the term “wellness” takes on a modified meaning. It may still involve exercise and eating right, and, of course, happiness, but throughout the recovery process PWA explore, and eventually come to realize, what “wellness” means for them now as they become comfortable in their new roles as people living with aphasia. Aphasia is isolating because of the loss of language and the lack of education and awareness of aphasia in society. The social and emotional aspects of aphasia become the most prominent parts to a sound recovery as our participants get to the point where they are moving past having the aphasia be the main focus of their lives. Continue reading the full article

June is Aphasia Awareness Month

June is Aphasia Awareness Month…. a time to put an extra effort in helping raise awareness of aphasia. In the past, many groups and centers have organized various activities throughout June to help raise aphasia awareness; for more details and ideas you can see the National Aphasia Association website, here, and here.

We wanted to feature a couple of events that will happen this June. Please let us know if there is an activity you are planning to organize and we will update this post with the relevant information (you can email us at or add the information in the comments section below). Continue reading the full article

Re-connecting through counselling

Harry Counselling

Harry Clarke is a counsellor who specialises in aphasia. He understands the condition, not just because his clients are living with it, but because he has aphasia himself.

Over 20 years ago, aged 35, I had a serious stroke in my sleep. It left me unable to walk, talk, read or write. But it was the inability to communicate with others that was by far the most distressing of my problems.

I was one of the lucky ones. My speech returned. Now I can speak in sentences although I sometimes have word-finding difficulties, especially when tired. But as many will know, this is not always the case. Continue reading the full article

Do Do Do

Lori Ramos Cavallo, founder of Care Partners Resource, was the caregiver for 8 years to her mother who survived a massive stroke in 2001. Lupe was left with expressive aphasia and said thinking she was saying words. Lori wrote this poem as a tribute to her mother’s ability to overcome this challenge with dignity and grace. Continue reading the full article

David Dow’s Story

I had a massive stroke when I was ten years old. I was living in Ohio and came to Las Vegas with my family. The trip was supposed to be 3 days, but I got home nearly 3 months later. This is my story of how I overcame many challenges over the last fifteen years so I could live a “normal” life again.

Before my stroke I was active, outgoing, and had lots of friends. I loved school and was in the gifted program. Continue reading the full article

Out of the Fog

Alan Hewitt, Sonia Parsons and Sharon Smith at the South East London Aphasia Hub

I had a brain haemorrhage nineteen years ago. It was 2½ years before I began to talk again. And it was four years before I understood I had aphasia. I was in a kind of ‘fog’. One day I read an article in a newspaper about loss of language after stroke. And I thought to myself ‘this is what I have!’. That’s when I was able to put a name to the place I found myself in.

I had speech and language therapy which was useful – to a point. On the surface the results were looking good – I was ticking all the boxes on the worksheet … but my real life was disintegrating. I went back to work with a charity but I had no support. The government Disability Adviser had not heard of aphasia – it was not recognised as a disability. My social network collapsed. I didn’t know where to put myself. I needed to be with people who understood, who had aphasia. I started to reach out to people who had the same kind of issues as I did. Continue reading the full article

Patience and Persistance

Sun Rising Over the Dock

Sean M. Maloney is executive vice president of Intel Corporation, general manager of the Sales and Marketing Group, and chief sales and marketing officer. He has been with Intel since 1982. On March 1, 2010 it was announced that Maloney had suffered a stroke in his home.

Since then, Sean has resumed carrying out his full business responsibilities at Intel.

Sean has been a passionate rower for a number of years; in the video below he tells his story about rowing and compares it to recovery from his stroke. Continue reading the full article

Aphasia Day Speech

John Giving a Talk at the University of Washington

I am a survivor from a stroke that caused aphasia. Below is my story that I spoke on Aphasia Day in June 5th 2010 at the University of Washington.

Four years ago on December 15th, 2006, I had a hemorrhage in the temporal and occipital lobes of my brain. It occurred from a bacteria that caused my immune system to attack itself. I was not reckless nor abusing drugs, I was a “normal” student from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I was supposed to graduate the following year, but now my brain injury made it difficult to recite the English alphabet or complete simple arithmetic. I was not able to write a thesis or solve differential mathematics, which I did with ease just a few days earlier. Right after my injury I would not have been able to give this speech to you without being overwhelmed visually and getting a migraine. Continue reading the full article