Three months after the birth of her first daughter, Rebecca (Becki) Miller Lawton suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke when an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) ruptured in her brain. Slowly, she learned to overcome her cognitive and physical changes and was eventually able to work as a special education paraprofessional. But then, a second stroke. This is Becki’s story of facing continuing challenges, with family and professional support. She and her co-author, Dawn Rosewitz, explain what aphasia and apraxia look like from the inside, something uniquely valuable to those touched by stroke and those working with stroke survivors.
Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to injury to the brain, most commonly from a stroke or other type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Though many people with aphasia may not be able to communicate fluently, the condition does not directly affect intelligence. Aphasia is usually a life-long condition for most people who acquire it, but treatments such as speech therapy can help recover some speech and language over time.
Based on a 2016 polling, the National Aphasia Association (NAA) estimated that 85 percent of adults over age 25 had never heard the term “aphasia.” This percentage has reportedly increased since actor Bruce Willis’ recent revelation that he has aphasia. The NAA also states that more people have aphasia than have other common conditions, including cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or muscular dystrophy.
According to the NAA, about one third of strokes result in aphasia, and more than 2 million people in the U.S. have aphasia. Each of those 2 million people has their own unique story about their aphasia journey. Becki feels very fortunate to be able to share her story in hopes that it can help others along their journey.