ADAC Awareness: We’ve got a big problem. Decision: Something’s gotta give. Action: I’m calling this number. Change: It is better. We’re not alone in this.
Change. Something shifts so you can help, empathize, and reduce stress or tension around a certain situation.
To deal with by brother-in-law Paul’s aphasia we learned different ways to talk with him and different ways to listen.
I also learned to slow down, give up my total knowledge about language i.e., that oh so seductive but counterproductive attitude of “Don’t you see? I’m a teacher. I have a Master’s degree in human dynamics. I KNOW.”
Aphasia responds. “I see. You know how to deal with something you never even heard of before Paul had his stroke. Yes, this should be interesting.”
The years of being with Paul spread to being with the community at the Adler Aphasia Center in Maywood, NJ, and now here in Tucson. We’ve had tree trims, birthday parties, made a film, and now we’re singing “Tip of My Tongue.” There is life with aphasia.
So what can you do? Learn and use communication strategies for dealing with aphasia. Change how you talk with someone with aphasia. Only one conversation going on at a time. Only one question a time. I ask my husband, “Do you want to have salad for dinner or go out?” He says, “Yes.” We laugh. If one of us had aphasia, this would be no laughing matter. It’s too confusing. Give wait time. Don’t speak for someone else. If there is a long pause, ask, “Would you like me to help you with the word?”
This month the word is aphasia.