Aphasia in the News

When Communication Is Difficult, All Words Matter

It’s a theme that has been popping up more and more in recent days. Aphasia—and the difficulties of communication that accompany it—add weight to the speaker’s message. It is profound to hear someone work hard to speak their heart. It’s a theme popping up in PSAs and news articles, especially as we near the election.

Michael Hayden

General Hayden recently created a public service announcement that aired on MSNBC endorsing Joe Biden. While the NAA does not endorse candidates, we admire General Hayden for working hard to use his voice.

The PSA begins with white writing on a black screen:

Former CIA and NSA Director General Michael Hayden suffers from aphasia as a result of a stroke in 2018. Though it’s difficult, he feels it’s important to speak out.

Hayden speaks carefully, and you can hear how far he has come since we first featured him as a Profiles of Aphasia back in 2019.

Recent Articles

Aphasia has popped up four times on the New York Times in the past year including a recent article looking at older voters committed to doing their civic duty. They interviewed multiple people, equally aligned with both of the main candidates.

The article begins with a quote from Annamarie Eggert who “has voted in every presidential election since 1948.”

Mrs. Eggert, a Biden supporter in York, Maine, has expressive aphasia, a condition that has made it difficult for her to talk … each word painstakingly coaxed from her lips. “Come hell — or high water, I will — vote.”

It’s an admirable commitment to civic duty made all the more powerful because words and communication are currently difficult.

Aphasia has been nudged into the spotlight this election season—from Gabby Giffords’s speech during the Democratic National Convention to articles like the ones above using aphasia to point out the added importance of the speaker’s words.

What do you think about this aphasia messaging?

Comments

2 Comments

  • Kathryn Shelley
    October 28, 2020 at 11:32 am

    I am DELIGHTED to hear the word aphasia being said through people and news sources with significant national audiences. People who have aphasia choosing to use the word aphasia is a long-awaited, powerful way to educate the mainstream population.

  • Regina
    October 28, 2020 at 11:37 am

    Great topic. In my opinion, aphasia results in each person in the conversation to actively listen. Most often, people listen to respond rather than listen to understand. With my loved one with aphasia – I know she is taking time to listen and process each word I am saying, and likewise, I am listening to every word to formulate what she may mean when all of her words don’t come easily. Every word is valuable. Even more so when those words are few.

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