January 2024 Content Roundup

Welcome back! We took a month off to celebrate the holidays, but we’re back with a new edition of our monthly roundup for a new year! As always, we have a variety of interesting stories involving topics like autism, aphasia, and assistive technology.

Aphasia Awareness

The Media Coverage of Bruce Willis Reveals Unfamiliarity With Frontotemporal Degeneration

While we shared our own take on the topic months ago, we’re glad to finally see the confusion surrounding Bruce Willis’ aphasia diagnosis getting more attention thanks to this academic article. It examines the media’s mishandling of Bruce Willis’ health announcements, particularly the many statements suggesting his aphasia “progressed” into frontotemporal dementia (FTD). The article clarifies that FTD was likely the underlying condition all along and underscores the importance of recognizing aphasia as a symptom rather than a standalone condition or something that guarantees one will develop dementia later on.

To The Spousal Caregiver This Holiday

Check out this heartfelt piece dedicated to spousal caregivers. It offers deep, empathetic insights into the unique challenges and emotional triggers faced by spouses caring for a partner with aphasia, especially during the holiday season. It talks about the often unseen struggles of balancing holiday preparations with caregiving duties, and the profound feelings of grief, loneliness, and inadequacy that can surface. Yet, it also offers a message of hope and solidarity. We really suggest giving it a read if it seems relevant to you, even now that the holidays have passed.

An Innovative Vocalist Lost Her Speech, but She’s Still Performing

Check out this biographical piece about Linda Sharrock, an avant-garde jazz vocalist who experienced a stroke in 2009, resulting in severe aphasia. While it’s not uncommon to hear stories about aphasic individuals who find their voice again through music, Sharrock is unique because she has developed her own style of vocalization, shirking traditional lyrics. This adaptation showcases an inventive way of overcoming communication barriers and rediscovering one’s vocal expression.

“I Could Not Talk … She Did Everything … She’s Now My Sister”: People With Aphasia’s Perspectives on Friends Who Stuck Around

This entry in the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology dives into the lives of individuals with aphasia, exploring their heartfelt perspectives on friendships that endured the trials brought on by their condition. It’s a deep look into why some friendships strengthen and others fade in the face of aphasia, considering factors like age and severity of the condition. This study, through personal interviews, sheds light on the unique experiences and challenges faced by people with aphasia, and the resilience of human connections. It’s an insightful read, especially for anyone interested in understanding the social dynamics surrounding health challenges and the enduring power of friendship.

Technology and Communication

DeWave: Watch Mind Reading AI Translate Thoughts to Text

If you’re a regular follower of our Monthly Roundups, you know that we feature a lot of stories about tech that can translate thoughts into text. We can’t help but be excited about developments regarding this technology because it could easily revolutionize AAC. Anyway, there’s another new device in development that can “read minds.” This article delves into the fascinating world of DeWave, a cutting-edge AI system from Australian researchers that turns thoughts into text. The article goes on to explore how DeWave, with its non-invasive approach and early success in trials, differs from other brain-computer interfaces being developed. Like other tech of its kind, DeWave seems to have a long way to go before it’s ready for release, but the article is still a compelling read for anyone interested in the intersection of AI and the future of communication.

Speech Spotlight

What does The Legend of Zelda have to do with anything? Well, this article pitches an interesting idea for the upcoming film adaptation of the popular video game series: make the main character, Link, nonverbal. Although Link has implied dialogue in the games, he is rarely given a voice. To honor this longstanding tradition, the big screen adaptation could make Link nonverbal. The concept is daring and would offer unique representation rarely seen in Hollywood. It’s not just about preserving the essence of a beloved character; it’s about exploring new, inclusive ways of storytelling that resonate with nonverbal audiences too. If you’re curious about how this could unfold in a film and its potential impact, this read is a must.

Check out our previous monthly roundup for more cool stories!

Evan Lauer

Designer

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About Spoken

Spoken is an app that helps people with aphasia, nonverbal autism, and other speech and language disorders.