In a medical emergency that results in a brain injury, such as a stroke, there are a number of health complications that can affect the patient afterward. One of the more well-known subsequent results is aphasia which is the impairment of speech and language. However, many people do not know that once the aphasia wears off, the patient may still be left with an accent. This sudden change in speaking is actually a syndrome known as foreign accent syndrome. However, Dr. Jack Ryalls, Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at University of Central Florida, explains that research has proven that these patients’ new way of speaking is actually not an accent. Furthermore, Dr. Sheila Blumstein, Albert D. Mead Professor of Cognitive Linguistics and Psychological Sciences at Brown University, states that people will perceive these as foreign accents, but in actuality, people who suffer from foreign accent syndrome have only developed slight variations in how they pronounce words which indicates to those listening to them that they have an accent.
So, what happens to those who suffer from foreign accent syndrome? Dr. Ryalls explains that chances of recovery are very slim–only about 30% are able to recover their old accent because therapy has been proven to not be beneficial. Along with this, people with foreign accent syndrome are likely to experience distress. Dr. Blumstein states that how an individual sounds and speaks contributes a lot to their self-identity, so it can affect a person’s perception of oneself. This distress can be furthered, too, by a change in how they are identified in the world. Dr. Blumstein explains that foreign accent syndrome can be isolating because many people will view this person as being from a foreign country. While many people do not recover, some are able to regain their old accents. Researchers have been looking into cases of recovery in order to improve the chances of recovery for others who suffer from foreign accent syndrome.
Dr. Sheila Blumstein, Albert D. Mead Professor of Cognitive Linguistics and Psychological Sciences at Brown University
Dr. Jack Ryalls, Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Central Florida
In the last 30 years, the number of children that are diagnosed with autism has increased, yet parents have received very little information on what has caused this number to skyrocket. Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, explains that the spike in diagnoses was caused by the development of a new definition for autism. He says that it was initially believed to be caused by a mixture of bad parenting and genetics, making it into a taboo topic, and allowing many people to ignore its presence for almost thirty years.
Over time, autism has become more visible to the public, yet people still have a skewed understanding of what it is. Silberman explains that autism is a lifelong disorder that can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Dr. Barry Prizant, Professor of Artists & Scientists As Partners Group at Brown University, and author of Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, states that many of the behaviors that we identify as symptoms of autism are often coping mechanisms for those who are autistic to deal with an environment that can be overwhelming. Among the traits of autism is the inability to easily communicate, which can make this disorder particularly disabling for some.
Since autism has become more prevalent in our culture, it is important for people to understand the myths surrounding autism and take steps to better understand the disorder. Silberman explains that too much money is being spent on looking for risk factors, and not enough is going towards research to help autistic individuals and their families. Dr. Prizant states that the current treatments do little to help autistic individuals, and in some cases can make their lives more difficult. Although research into what causes autism is imperative to understanding the disorder, there should be more focus on making life easier for those who suffer with it everyday.
Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
Dr. Barry Prizant, Professor of Artists & Scientists As Partners Group at Brown University, and author of Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism
Since the introduction of antibiotics in World War II, doctors have prescribed courses of treatment that typically ran longer than necessary. Bacterial resistance is forcing a reevaluation, shortening courses sometimes to just a few days and even prompting doctors to advise not using all pills if patients feel better.
Synopsis: Autism has been misunderstood ever since its first description in the 1940’s. Experts describe how this misunderstanding has drastically affected treatment of people with autism, and how schools and other institutions might change their approach and understanding to improve treatment.
Host: Reed Pence. Guests: Steve Silberman, author, Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity; Dr. Barry Prizant, Professor, Artists & Scientists As Partners group, Brown University and author, Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism