By Peg Prendeville

Mrs Fiona Harnett or Mrs H as she is affectionately called got a great send off  by Ballyhahill school pupils, parents and fellow teachers last Friday. Though not technically gone she is “hitting the road” very soon. Fiona is a very talented lady and deserved all the praises heaped on her. She in turn thanked all who helped and supported her throughout her 25 years in the school. We wish her the best on her retirement in spite of facing it alone due to the death of her husband two years ago due to cancer.

A fundraising night for the Abha Bhán Players is being held in Barr na Sráide on Saturday night June 25th. Though we have not yet staged our play we have to pay insurance and meet other various expenses so all support would be appreciated, please. Donie Nolan will be providing the music and there will surely be a sing-song also. All welcome. There will be a raffle on the night.

June is Aphasia Awareness month. Eighteen months ago I did not know what Aphasia was but I soon found out. Aphasia is a condition that affects your ability to communicate. It can affect your speech, as well as the way you write and understand both spoken and written language. Aphasia typically occurs suddenly after a stroke or a head injury. Jim has aphasia which is why I am referring to it now.  He cannot speak, read or write. Treatments such as speech therapy can often help recover some speech and language functions over time, but many people continue to have problems communicating. This can sometimes be difficult and frustrating both for the person with aphasia and for family members. It’s important for family members to learn the best ways to communicate with their loved one.  Suggestions might include the following:

Include the person with aphasia in conversations

Simplify language by using short, simple sentences

Repeat key words

Use a natural conversational manner at an adult level

Encourage all types of communication, including speech, gestures, pointing, or drawing

Don’t correct the person’s speech

Give the person plenty of time to express themselves

Help the person become involved outside the home, such as through support groups.

For some people, computers can be helpful for both communicating and improving language abilities. Unfortunately Jim’s ability to speak has not improved but we get by with gestures and pointing etc. But it can be very frustrating and impossible to have a normal conversation. I just say all that here to bring awareness to this condition. It does not mean the intellect is damaged – just the ability to communicate through word or writing. Those of us who are not affected by it should be grateful. And I am. I would find life very difficult if I could not speak, read or write. Thankfully Jim is tolerating it very bravely.

As well as it being Aphasia month, this week is Carer’s Week which is relevant in my life now too. There are lots of events planned for carers all over the country. Busy times.