Speech and language therapist Margaret Greene, founder of Afasic, wrote this article in 1983 describing how Afasic began.
In 1968 my daughter insisted that I should see a small boy who couldn’t speak and who threw the most appalling temper tantrums through sheer frustration. His mother was suffering under the strain and professionals believed that the boy should be sent to a mental health institution.
It was the general opinion of speech clinics then that it was pointless to refer children for speech therapy before they were of school age. There were no diagnostic facilities, the tests available were very limited and consequently many children were being sent to special schools, general provision did not exist.
It was obvious to me that this child was not mentally handicapped and I spent a sleepless night tormented by this sorry state of affairs. It became clear to me that I must start an association for the parents of these children as they were bewildered, scattered, and completely without support.
Among those who gave me marvellous encouragement at my first meeting were Mr Tony Martin (director of the Nuffield Speech & Hearing Centre) and Dr Mary Sheridan, who then had responsibility for the deaf and hard of hearing at the Ministry of Health.
Even so, I had been determined from the start that Afasic would be an association for parents. After reading Elizabeth Browning’s book about her own experiences in bringing up a son with severe speech and language difficulties – the frustrations, lack of understanding and ignorance she and her family faced – I knew she would be the ideal person to join the committee of Afasic and take responsibility for publicity and fundraising.
Over the past fifteen years Afasic has worked with tremendous determination and strength to awaken society to the existence of this group of much neglected children.