'Aphasia' educates on communication disorder

September 29, 2011 10:05:08 AM PDT
Aphasia is a communication disorder that impairs a person's ability to process language.

It's often misunderstood. Hopefully, that will change with a new film

"Aphasia" is a short film featuring actor Carl McIntyre. At 44, Carl had a massive stroke. He lives with aphasia.

Aphasia affects more than one million Americans. Although aphasia is a language disorder, people think it effects intelligences, which is not true, says Eduardo Europa, graduate student in communications sciences and disorders at Northwestern University.

"Many times people with aphasia sometimes, and just in the general public, are mistaken for being drunk or mistaken for being mentally disabled. But the fact is, they're not," said Europa.

And this was clearly shown in the film.

"You see that sort of in the movie where he does have problems producing some words, or sometimes people talk to him and you can see that he doesn't quite understand them. And it's not because he is drunk or he has a mental disability, it's because he has this language problem. And I think it's really important to separate those two things or three things because it is a problem within the aphasia community," Europa said.

Daniel Goffman had a stoke five years ago.

"It affected my speech, my walking, my arm," he said. "I did not know about aphasia when I had the stroke, and I am very puzzled by aphasia because I think that I explain what aphasia is but I cannot do it very well because it's extremely mysterious to me."

Three years ago, Mercy Gilpatric had a stroke. When she was told she had aphasia, she was surprised.

"My God, what is this? And it was something -- I really learned how to talk. I learned how to be everything. I had to learn. It was terrible, but it was good," she said.

Both Goffman and Gilpatric say the film highlights the many challenges people like themselves deal with.

"Sometimes that he's wanting to do and he wants us to feel it, all the people who [have] aphasia, and he worked on it. And he said, 'You can feel how you feel,' and people looked and, 'Wow it was good but it [was] really, really fun," Goffman said.

"I don't know how aphasia, how people can express themselves because Carl McIntyre is extremely good at expressing himself," Gilpatric said.


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