Living with Aphasia

Michael's story
David's story

A Wise Move

Adapting to and Living with Aphasia

We thought we knew the importance of communication - after all we had been teachers for over thirty years. However, until David’s severe stroke in July 2002, we didn’t know how difficult life could be without speech. His aphasia (or dysphasia) a communication disability, occurred when communication centres of the brain were damaged by a stroke.

After six months in hospital, his physical ability had improved and we thought the worst was over. But, when David came home it was devastating to realise how our lives had to change as we had to communicate by expression, mime, diagrams and pictures.

Early on I realised our roles and those of our three children had to change. We no longer had the same income and our life style had to alter. Now I was the only person who could drive, write letters, deal with bills and mortgages and I also had to deal with problems such as David’s recurring fits.

Gradually, I helped him form and say words and slowly read again.

We started to visit ‘TALK’ to practise his communication skills. I was keen to support other people so after volunteering at Guildford I am now leader of the Walton group. We also visited Connect in Borough, where we received support and encouragement (three of our remaining parents had died within a year and money was a problem). It was helpful to attend groups for people with aphasia and carers where we met others in the same situation. Now David and I volunteer at events by sharing our experiences and giving tips and advice for living with aphasia.

David continues to improve every week and he remains cheerful and positive. I have made great strides as I have completed my MA with a dissertation about Aphasia and received an award for voluntary support. We are enjoying life and the time we spend together.

Over 40,000 people live with aphasia in the UK but it is still not a word most people are familiar with. The value of TALK, Connect and similar groups that help communication in a friendly environment, cannot be over-emphasised.

Janet Sutton

Janet leads the Walton-on-Thames TALK group volunteers at Guildford TALK and at Connect