ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WLNS)—Ranya Ahmed a 22-year-old Michigan native has a language disorder called, “aphasia.”
Health officials say aphasia occurs when parts of the human brain that control language is damaged. The damage can suddenly happen following a stroke, head injury, neurological problem, and can slowly develop from a brain tumor.
June is “National Aphasia Awareness Month,” and its purpose is to educate the community on the disorder. The month also recognizes the various individuals who are living with or caring for people with aphasia.
Ahmed had a brain tumor followed by three strokes which have impacted her physically and mentally. Due to Ahmed’s health conditions, it’s harder for her to communicate back.
“Speech therapy and occupational, physical all of that helped me a lot,” Ahmed said. “Speech that helps me sound out the words, writing, and reading.”
Ahmed has been going to speech therapy facilitated by the University of Michigan’s Aphasia Program.
“We work on techniques to improve your listening, reading, and your spelling,” said Jennifer Corey, Senior Speech-Language Pathologist and Clinic Manager at The University of Michigan’s Aphasia Program. “Lots of drills; lots of repetition, and lots of practice… and they need to practice on their own time.”
Corey says in speech therapy they practice verbal expression.
“Our focus is using strategies and tools incorporating tools like a pencil and paper,” Corey stated. “Something simple like can you draw a simple little picture to help express your intended message.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, a few symptoms to spot aphasia are people speaking in short or incomplete sentences, sentences that don’t make sense, speak unrecognizable words, and not being able to understand people’s conversations.
However, Corey says aphasia can be placed in two categories: Fluent and Non-fluent.
“The Non-fluent type is where you get people who speak in single words, and speak in short broken sentences,” Corey said, “their comprehension is pretty good; however, reading and writing may be affected. The fluent type of aphasia is a little more challenging they are speaking a lot. I’ve had a neurologist say it’s called, ‘word salad’ where it’s a lot of different words. It could be real words, or considered jargon.”
Corey has worked with Ahmed to improve her aphasia, and they made lots of improvements. Ahmed also says she’s proud of herself and wants to continue her language therapy.
Data shows over 2 million people in the United States are affected by aphasia, and Corey says she wants people to understand they are intelligent and make improvements each day.