“He’s not the mesiah, he’s a very naughty boy”
Many of us will recall this line with pleasure and hilarity. The Monty Python films are a piece of British comedy genius. Yet even famous, intelligent actors and actresses can be afflicted by disease. And as we and they live longer they may also be afflicted with progressive neurological disease. Terry Jones, who delivered the famous line quoted above, has recently been diagnosed with PPA.
Terry reports he has been living with a progressive decline in his language skills for some time. The Times article this weekend reported that he has been reading his lines from prompt cards for his most recent live performances of the Monty Python show. What a wonderful strategy he has been using to maintain his functional communication and continue in his job role. I wonder if he has non-fluent agrammatic variant of PPA. Reading aloud is often easier for this group. Although reading aloud can also support those with logopenic variant in retrieving the words they are searching for.
Unfortunately Terry Jones’ communication will continue to deteriorate. Speech and language therapy can provide genuine support. Provision of bespoke therapy tasks such as personalised word relearning, scripting, conversation training and communication aids may be useful. Speech and language interventions can maintain language, conversation, relationships, functional skills and a sense of self.
For the speech and language therapy community people such as Terry Jones can also help. We can tell our patients about him, many people find it reassuring to know there are others even someone like Terry Jones who had what they have. It provides a sense of community for many who will feel isolated by the condition. This is a man who can spread the word increase understanding and reduce stigma for others.