Aphasia group disappointed by ABC's Giffords special

2011-11-30T15:45:00Z 2011-11-30T16:40:43Z Aphasia group disappointed by ABC's Giffords specialStephanie Innes Arizona Daily Star

The National Aphasia Association has issued a statement critical of Diane Sawyer's Nov. 14 television special about U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly.

The New York-based national group, which helps an estimated 300,000 families per year, says the ABC special should have mentioned the word "aphasia" when describing Giffords' brain injury, which occurred Jan. 8 when she was shot through the head in an assassination attempt.

As a result of her injury, Giffords now suffers from aphasia, which affects speech and communication skills and occurs after a stroke or other sudden traumatic brain injury.

"Many people with aphasia, their families, friends and caregivers, were very disappointed and frustrated by the omission," the association wrote in a statement on its Facebook page.

"Eagerly, they watched that special Monday night edition of 20/20, hoping that finally, a greater awareness and understanding for aphasia would be realized. The general public would finally hear the word aphasia and begin to understand the condition.

"Unfortunately the hour-long program never used the word aphasia once, which added to the pain and frustration of the over 1 million people estimated to have aphasia."

The association wants to raise awareness of aphasia as, "too often, people with aphasia are mistaken for being mentally incapacitated or being under the influence. This is not true. People with aphasia maintain their intellect completely. They have a communication disorder that makes it difficult for them to express themselves and understand language."



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Arizona Daily Star health reporter Stephanie Innes brings you the latest health information. Contact her at sinnes@tucson.com

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