Former architect Phil Jones who was left unable to speak after a stroke has learnt to communicate by drawing architectural plans
The 68-year-old from Penzance lost all movement in his right-hand side and his ability to talk after a debilitating stroke in 2005.
However the former architect has managed to learn to communicate with his wife Deana by drawing plans of their home so that he can direct her to what he needs.
Phil’s first sketch for Deana, who works as a special needs teaching assistant, was of a place in Milton Keynes, his second was a street map and house plan.
Over the last decade, through trial and error, the couple have managed to build up a picture book of images which can be used to help Phil communicate.
Speaking to the AJ, Deana said: ‘I tried all sorts of different ways of trying to communicating such as using computers to enable him to speak. But nothing was really working.
‘I had to turn the conversation around from what I wanted him to do, to what he could do for me.’
‘The only thing he seemed to rigidly retain after his stroke was his architectural way of seeing things. In the early days it was always with the bird’s eye. He couldn’t do a picture, but he had that perspective of plans. Everything was looking down, whether it was a person, or a dog with its legs splayed out, or a house.’
Phil, who worked as an architect in the Bristol office of King Sturge for 30 years, was unable to receive medical attention for twelve hours after suffering a stroke at his home ten years ago.
As a result he was unable to walk, talk or move at all, and was in hospital for six months.
Since the stroke Phil has worked with the UK charity Connect, which helps people with aphasia to overcome their difficulties communicating.
According to Deana it took 18 months to find a way of communicating properly again through his drawing: ‘For a man who doesn’t know what a flannel is to wash his face, the fact that he has kept this architectural skill is remarkable. In the basic way we started with a plan of the house, if he needed something he would draw a room and would map in the room what it was.
‘He has no understanding of peoples names, but if you mentioned where they lived on a map he knows immediately. He has a huge memory for historical and geographical information. While watching TV he does not understand the language but relates the buildings and towns of the locations they portray and has often pointed out previous buildings of work that he had been involved in.
‘Even a drain pipe on a building in Oxford that was in a drama.’
Despite suffering from the stroke, Phil even managed to put his architectural knowledge to good use by helping renovate his daughter’s house.
Deana said: ‘He would draw plans and I was knocking on doors asking ‘do you know what this means on this part of the window. He would show my daughter how to locate where drains were in their cottage.’
‘He said when he retired that he didn’t want to work again.’