On Gabby Giffords: ABC News Fails to Find the Words…

While last night’s ABC News telecast with Diane Sawyer about Gabby Gifford’s struggles and her promising progress was nothing short of miraculous, ABC News did a disservice to the almost two million Americans who suffer from aphasia, the communication disorder brought on by traumatic brain injury or stroke, from which Giffords suffers. Not once was the word aphasia mentioned. For many of those struggling daily with this language deficit, aphasia may be only one of their many health issues, but it’s a vital one. For many of us who work daily with people who have aphasia, we too struggle to “get the word out” about the meaning of aphasia.

Just as communication is the goal for those with aphasia, it is our goal as well. As one of the largest aphasia treatment centers in one of the most populated areas in the country, Adler Aphasia Center’s mission is to raise awareness to the general public about aphasia. A critical goal is to train and educate healthcare professionals about how to recognize someone with aphasia and how to better communicate with them. You’d be amazed at how many people with aphasia come into our center with no knowledge of the name of their language disorder – simply because their doctors failed to inform them. Not once did they hear the word aphasia. Why is the media following suit?

Their struggle is our struggle as a person with aphasia is unable to articulate his/her aphasia. With their “speechlessness” comes the potential of being abandoned in their struggles as well. Until the broadcast media outlets fully do their homework and identify the disorder by name that people like Gabby Giffords suffer from, our work and the extremely hard work that those with aphasia do every day just to communicate will continue to go in vain.

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