Aphasia is a condition that deprives us of the ability to communicate effectively. It can affect your ability to express and understand language, both oral and written. Aphasia typically occurs suddenly after a stroke or a head injury. But it can also appear gradually from a slowly growing brain tumour or mental degeneration. The amount of disability depends on the location and the severity of the brain damage. A person with aphasia may: speak in short or incomplete sentences, speak in sentences that don’t make sense, speak unrecognisable words, not comprehend other people’s conversation, interpret figurative language literally or write sentences that don’t make sense.

The severity and scope of the problems depend on the extent of damage and the area of the brain affected. Some people may comprehend what others say relatively well but struggle to find words to say something. Other people may be able to interpret what they read but yet can’t speak so that others can understand them. So on depending on this condition, the doctor may refer to aphasia in different types as non-fluent, fluent, global or anomic aphasia.

The first type of aphasia is non-fluent aphasia. People who suffer from non fluent or expressive aphasia have difficulty in saying or writing what they mean. Damage to the language network near the left frontal area of the brain usually results in Broca aphasia, which is also called no fluent or expressive aphasia. People with this disorder struggle to get words out, speak in very short sentences and leave out words. A person might say “Want food” or “Go School today.” Although the sentences aren’t complete, a listener can usually understand the meaning. A person with Broca aphasia may comprehend what other people say to some degree. People with this type of aphasia are often aware of their own difficulty in communicating and may get frustrated with these limitations The most common cause of expressive aphasia is stroke.

Most aphasia therapy is individualised based on a patient’s condition and needs as assessed by a speech therapist. The majority of patients go through a period of spontaneous recovery following brain injury in which they regain a great deal of language function. Among other exercises, patients practice the repetition of words and phrases.

Its second type is fluent aphasia. Patients who suffer from fluent or receptive aphasia have difficulty in making sense of the words they see and hear. People with receptive aphasia are unable to understand language in its written or spoken form, and even though they can speak with normal grammar, syntax, rate, and intonation, they cannot express themselves meaningfully using language. People with this aphasia are typically unaware of how they are speaking and do not realize it may lack meaning.

The third type is global aphasia. Global aphasia makes it impossible for individuals affected by it to speak, read or write. Global aphasia results from extensive damage to the brain’s language networks. Global aphasia, also called associative aphasia, is a relatively rare form of aphasia. It is characterised by intact auditory comprehension, fluent speech production, but poor speech repetition. They will also be aware of their errors, and will show significant difficulty correcting them.

The last type is anomic aphasia. The individuals who are impacted by anomic aphasia have difficulty in labelling objects, places and events correctly. Although a person with anomia may find it difficult to recall many types of words such as common nouns, proper nouns, verbs etc. There is no method available to completely cure anomic aphasia. However, there are treatments to help improve word-finding skills.

Most aphasic children fail to complete their education, and even those who eventually recover may be unable to catch up on lost ground. To help the child in the classroom it is essential to identify the disease as early as possible as the problem can first show itself by inattention in class and reading comprehension difficulties, often assumed to be behavioural problems or attention disorders. Early identification of the condition is essential as the long-term consequences of aphasia on school achievement are disturbing.

Children with aphasia have difficulty in talking, understanding, listening, writing or doing numerical calculations. Despite this they can think clearly and understand their feelings as aphasia affects the communication and not the intellect of the aphasia sufferer. Speech therapy is an effective option to improve communication and in the classroom environment they need quiet surroundings, and a teacher who communicates slowly, clearly and repetitively, using gestures and pictures to aid communication.

It can get very difficult arranging for the education of a young person with aphasia. School systems are already stretched to the limit and time and money decides what sort of accommodations can be made. Federal law requires that students with special needs receive an individualised curriculum which is worked out with input from teachers, therapists (if required), the student and the family. With teachers well-trained in language-based learning disabilities and intensive speech and language therapy, aphasic children can make significant recoveries. The challenge in a classroom setting is to integrate the student into the classroom culture as smoothly as possible.

Aphasic disorder affects a child’s ability to process language. Aphasia is not something that a child is born with, but rather it is a disability that results from trauma to the brain, such as a head injury or a brain tumour. Though this disability is rare in children, it can certainly affect them. Teachers can help students with aphasia in a number of ways. They can speak write simple and clear notes to convey messages, they can engage them in speech-sound activities and picture cards can be used to convey meaning. Sign language and Information Communication Technology (ICT) can also be used for communication.

Remembering that the aphasic child is not intellectually impaired and can become easily frustrated, disappointed or even angry at his or her failure to communicate, teachers must keep communication simple but adult. Simplify sentence structure and reduce the rate of speech, avoiding speaking for the aphasic student and encouraging all other modes of expression as writing, drawing, choices, gestures, yes/no responses. Encourage the aphasic student to be as independent as possible and avoid being overprotective.

Learn everything you can about the student as a learner. Read his IEP (Initial Enrollment Period) and cumulative folder. Examine previous classroom and standardised assessments. Analyse previous writing samples. If possible, speak with teachers and other professionals who have worked with the student in the past. Administer learning inventories and interview the student to develop a profile of the student’s strengths, deficits, needs and preferences as a learner. When teaching vocabulary, provide written words, definitions, synonyms, antonyms, examples of usage and pictorial representations. Explicitly teach semantics and syntax concepts. Simplify them as much as possible. Break concepts down into small steps and repeat them as often as necessary to ensure your student comprehends them. Allow students with aphasia as much time as necessary, without interruption, to express themselves verbally. Create word choice boards. Use flashcards to build vocabulary. Encourage your students with aphasia to use any type of communication they are comfortable with (e.g., writing, drawing, pointing, gesturing, picture systems, sign language, augmentative communication devices). Have your student repeat and explain concepts, directions and expectations to you after you’ve presented them to her. Partner with your school’s speech therapist and special education case manager to identify possible augmentative communication and assistive technology devices for your students with aphasia.

All the above mentioned steps are helpful to cure aphasic students to a great deal. Anyhow it’s another issue that it may be difficult for class teacher to apply all these steps in a large class of students even while dealing with the normal healthy students. That is why it’s not possible to cope with all the needs and requirements of such students. But hopefully even using a few of these strategies can be helpful for aphasic students to lead a normal life in their future ahead with the empathic behaviour of their teachers. They will no longer be a burden on the time-worn shoulders of their parents.