In Speech Pathology Week 2014 we are building a “Nation for Communication”.
Every day more than 1.1 million Australians have difficulty communicating. Speech pathologists are aiming to make Australia a ‘Nation for Communication’ by increasing the understanding of communication disorders and how they impact people’s lives. Sadly many people with a communication disorder suffer in silence; many of us take communication for granted.
Communication disorders don’t just affect the young. At least 30 per cent of people post-stroke suffer aphasia (a loss of language), while 85 per cent of those with Parkinson’s disease have voice, speech, and/or swallowing difficulties.
I have been consulting with local governments and support groups to raise awareness of the communication difficulties that adults in the Illawarra can face due to injury, illness or disease. Adults who acquire communication disorders are suddenly unable to do those everyday things that give our life meaning, such as tell someone we love them or even order a coffee or a meal. It is distressing and embarrassing for an adult to have to rely on someone else, with new stats showing that 50% of people with aphasia after a stroke experience depression.
As a community we should recognise the difficulties that these people are experiencing, and offer the right support.
Speech pathologists are able to help adults with communication problems to make the most of their everyday interactions – especially when they are involved early. Local governments and businesses can also do their bit by providing information in a ‘communication-friendly’ format.See www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au for more information.