Aphasia and the Benefits of American Sign Langage

Aphasia and the Benefits of American Sign Language



Today I wanted to touch on the topic of Aphasia since I personally suffered from it for a little more than a year due to a car accident which I incurred a traumatic brain injury from (TBI).

Loss of words, confusion, scrambled speech, loss of understanding words, slow speech, not being able to formulate a sentence, not wanting to communicate all because it's just too hard. This is what it feels like when one is unexpectedly faced with aphasia.

I felt lost in my words, to say the least, I knew what I wanted to say (verbally) but I was unable to. Even though I was suffering from a severe brain injury I knew that my sign skills would help me through this time, and because of the beautiful nature of sign language and its visual/gestural components, I was still able to communicate throughout that year as I was afflicted with aphasia.

Because, I knew sign language I was able to use this method of communication, when I was struggling using my expressive language, due to suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and sudden hearing loss which I still have today.  

Because of Sign Language, I was able to continue to communicate with my children and some friends who signed as well. It gave me the language that I was missing and the words I just couldn’t say. If you have never experienced a traumatic brain injury it’s hard to comprehend the impact that it has on one’s ability to speak, think, and even sleep.

You see, anyone can experience trauma at any given time, and many of us take our ability to communicate for granted.  What we don’t realize is that any of us can become Deaf, or suffer a traumatic brain injury at any moment. Sign language was the language that allowed me to express myself during a time that I was not able to.

I urge each and every one of you to do your research and learn Sign Language.

For more information on Aphasia and the benefits of using Sign Language please read below.

What is Aphasia?

Aphasia is an impairment of language, disturbing the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to an injury to the brain-most commonly from a stroke, particularly in older individuals. But brain injuries resulting in aphasia may also arise from head trauma, from brain tumors, or from infections.

Aphasia can be so severe as to make communication with the individual almost impossible, or it can be very mild. It may affect mainly a single aspect of language use, such as the ability to retrieve the names of objects, or the ability to put words together into sentences, or the ability to read. More commonly, however, multiple aspects of communication are impaired, while some channels remain accessible for a limited exchange of information.

Benefits of Sign language in terms of Aphasia

The Aphasia treatment most often used with aphasia is speech and language therapy. This can be started as soon as your condition allows it. The therapist will work with you on building and strengthening remaining language abilities and will try to find other means of communication to make up for the abilities that have been lost. This is when sign language becomes a tremendous resource for those suffering from a (TBI).

Since gestures and symbols are stored in a separate part of the brain from language, most can benefit from using sign language as an additional way to communicate. One may feel that they do not have the capabilities to say (verbally speaking) what it is that he or she wants, but using a gesture, or a formal sign, that you will understand to mean "water" will not be as taxing on the individual suffering from aphasia.

Generally, it is encouraged for individuals with aphasia to use gestures and or signs more often. This is because gestures and or signs help the listener understand and better interpret what the individual may be trying to say.

It also has been said that body language helps us to compose language. Sign language can be looked at as a skill set and a benefactor to those who have suffered a (TBI).

  • Signs represent words that one may not remember.
  • Signs can also help clarify what the individual is talking about.
  • Sign Languge can help to cue speech. If an individual is with their SLP the therapist has he or she repeat words while making the sign, it can trigger one's memory.
  • Sign language is a good way to maintain preserved language abilities. If one uses signs while he/she is speaking, those signs may help that individual remember specific words. This keeps the language functions of the brain working and can help strengthen them.