NSSHLA screens aphasia doc

Jeff LamsonArts & Entertainment Editor

Documentary film “Speechless,” was screened Thursday by members of Southern’s undergraduate chapter of the National Student Speech-Language Hearing Association for education and awareness.

The film documented three individuals who suffer from aphasia, a communication disorder affecting over two million Americans with 180,000 new cases expected in 2020 according to the National Aphasia Association website. The disorder which is caused by brain damage, often contributed to strokes, impairs one’s ability to process language and communication with others but does not impair cognition.

“I’ve done one observation with a client with aphasia and it was really interesting,” said Annie Prusak, “so I was excited to learn more.”

Prusak, a sophomore and communication disorders major said that the film was an eye-opening experience to how aphasia affects more than just conversations, but relationships and day to day life.

“It changes how other people treat you because they don’t understand it all,” said Ben Anderson, a Norwalk Community College student.

According to Mariah Eykelhoff, bringing awareness to communication disorders in general is important and screenings like this are part of that effort. NSSLHA President Eykelhoff, a senior and Vice President Lexi Negron a junior both communication disorders major said the chapter plans on doing more screenings in the future. They will be around campus and in the Center for Communication Disorders in Davis Hall where clients come in twice a week.

“Just to give them a little insight on other people’s stories,” Eykelhoff said, “have their care givers and family members connect with the people on the screen, knowing they’re not alone, knowing other people are going through the same exact thing.”

She said that it was nice to see people in their own daily lives using different treatment and communication methods. The film showed more than Eykelhoff expected including application of an iPod Touch by the subject, Ed, as a text to speech device. This was a real-life implementation of what Negron said was an augmented alternative communication device, something she and Eykelhoff see used in a more controlled setting in their major.

Eykelhoff said that relationships are not the same after someone gets a disorder like aphasia. She said she liked seeing the family support in “Speechless,” specifically one man’s support from his wife.

“She just stood by him and she supported him, and she was there with him every step of the way and that was just amazing to see,” Eykelhoff said.

Negron said that the power of documentaries like “Speechless,” that portray aphasia well is that it can help you realize how people can take the simple daily task of speaking for granted.

This semester is the undergraduate chapter of NSSLHA’s first on campus and this screening was the first big project they were able to put on after the graduate chapter failed to raise the appropriate funds, $450, for licensing last semester.

Eykelhoff said NSSLHA plans to learn from this screening and future discussions with audiences and in meetings to learn how to better address these topics.

“We have open ears,” Eykelhoff said. “We’re listening to everyone and we will cater to that.

The new chapter is still establishing themselves, she said, and there are more projects and larger projects on the way.

“We’re really just getting started,” Eykelhoff said, “we don’t have a lot in our fundraising account, so we’re working with what we can and trying to spread awareness in any way possible.”

Photo Credit: Jeff Lamson


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