Fighting Aphasia

To raise awareness of Aphasia and to provide support to those affected

l’École Du Louvre

A huge thank you to the kind students of l’École Du Louvre in Paris for supporting Never Gray in the release of Never Gray’s very first french article. (Please feel free to practice your french and have a go at reading the article, I will post the English translation soon). Thanks guys!

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Read the English Translation

What is "Aphasia"?

Imagine your brain as a huge library; every shelf filled with books; Each book a memory or a piece of knowledge. Now imagine all of these books falling off all of the shelves into a mixed up pile on the floor; then each book being placed back on the shelves in a random order, all in the wrong place. This is aphasia: It is not a loss of intelligence since no books are lost, but the ability to locate and recall information from these books is impaired.
Aphasia is a communication impairment brought on through a brain trauma or more commonly a stroke; it can vary in severity from almost no ability to communicate to very mild with almost unnoticeable effect. Aphasia Can affect different aspects of language use, some may struggle with basic conversation and some may struggle with recall of names of objects, for example someone with aphasia may try to identify a "handbag", but they can call it a "pigeon" or "car", something completely unrelated and random. Since it is not an Intellectual Impairment, generally the sufferer will realise It's not the right word and this will add to the frustration. That Is why patience Is key, for both the listener and the sufferer, because if they feel stressed or under pressure communication becomes even more disrupted as more words disappear.

What does Never Gray do?

Never Gray's mission statement Is clear "To raise awareness of aphasia and provide support to those affected". To understand what Never Gray does to help, first you need to know why it is I started Never Gray. In 2011 when I was 17, my mother had a severe brain haemorrhage and stroke; one that she was extremely fortunate to survive. After an emergency operation and a prolonged stay in hospital with an intensive rehabilitation course which required a huge amount of determination and persistence, my mother was allowed home. However, she was left some disabilities, the most frustrating of which is aphasia: As a very proud woman and an author, she struggled (and continues to struggle) with the condition which restricts her from indulging in her passion of reading and writing. Whilst aphasia was evident in hospital, the real problems with it became apparent when she was allowed to return home; Simple tasks such as buying milk from the shops or going for a cup of tea could cause people to mistakenly believe her to be drunk or under the influence of drugs; all because of her appearing normal but having such a huge difficulty with communication. This hurt my mother very deeply and subsequently hurt me: I couldn't stand to see her like this and know others were being treated in the same way. So, something had to be done. 
Never Gray was thus established in 2012 with the aim of educating people on what aphasia is; to raise awareness of the issues so that when recognised in an individual by the wider population, they can be more patient with the sufferer, thus reduce the stress and difficulties experienced. We have found that when someone that has aphasia was aware that the person they were communicating with knew they had aphasia and understood it, they were a lot more relaxed and subsequently found it a lot easier to say what they wanted to say. Thus the "aphasia aware campaign" begun: We started by educating local shop owners near my home (Oxfordshire), then organising both fund-raising and publicising events, and giving speeches at schools . We also created a webpage and began reaching out to people via social media: All to make the lives of people who struggle with aphasia easier. We have also teamed up with the National Aphasia Association (NAM in New York, and are planning on future joint ventures. We have received an overwhelming amount of support already and were able to raise money to fund further events and publicity material such as wristbands and leaflets, and in the future we hope to be able to produce t•shirts and other items we can sell at our events to both help the cause and to fund further events. We are very excited for up and coming fundraising events as we have recently also formed a loose partnership with the stroke association, a leading UK stroke charity, and we are very privileged to be able to work together on future projects. 

What can you do?

Well the most important thing people can do is to share! share! share! If you're a facebook user you can like the Never Gray page, share the page and check out our short documentary further explaining aphasia and why the charity was established. 
Article by Thomas Gray
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