Your Health October 24, 2013 Foreign Accent Syndrome

{}{}{}{}{} Ever heard of Foreign Accent Syndrome?{}{}{}{}{}{} It's an extremely rare condition that affects more than a person's speech.{}{}{}{}{} Two local women talk with ABC 33/40'S News Anchor Linda Mays about how Foreign Accent Syndrome robbed them and their families of life as they knew it.{}{} Here's their story.{}{}{}{} 54 year old Karen Mullinix,{}{} is a southern woman.{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Though, she doesn't sound like it, now.{} Mullinix says, "They say, how do you say this in your language? Oh, I say, this is a cart. These groceries for eat, you know."{}{}{}{}{} Born in Mississippi, a resident of Anniston, Mullinix{} hasn't always talked with a sort of Arabic, Italian, or German accent.{}{}{}{} About eight years ago she was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition.{}{}{}{} Mullinix suffers from what's called... Foreign Accent Syndrome.{}{}{} Mullinix says, "When you have this syndrome, it is, it change everything. Your life is never same. You do not be the person before."{}{}{}{} It may sound bizarre, her family remembers, she was bitten by a black spider one night. {}{}{}{} When she woke up, she couldn't talk.{}{}{} Mullinix says, "I break out in rash all over, and I start having difficulty breathing... At the hospital because the speech is no good already, it's going in and out. I try to tell them what is going on. They did not understand. They send me home."{}{}{} It's believed the spider bite affected her brain function. {}{}{}{} Mullinix showed us medical documents dating back to 2007 and 2008. {}{}{}{} Her neurologists... noting what has happened to her and the difficulty she's had to endure including impaired speech and memory loss.{}{}{}{} She didn't even remember her children or husband of more than 30 years.{} Her husband, Max Mullinix says, "I had to show her marriage license and stuff, several times. And she say we're not married you know. I don't know you and stuff. I'd get them and show her the pictures of the wedding and marriage license..and then she's alright. But it happens about every six or eight months."{}{}{}{}{}{} Experts say Foreign Accent Syndrome is a neurological condition{} characterized by an injury to the brain in the part that controls speech.{}{}{}{}{}{} It can happened in some such cases of severe stroke, paraplegic migraines, or serious head injury. {}{} {}{}{}{}{} Mullinix's mission is to lend support to other people battling FAS, like 43 year old Jeanie Atkins.{}{}{}{} One doctor believes a mini stroke led to FAS in Atkins in April this year.{}{}{}{} Like other people with syndrome, she found herself ridicule, rejected and isolated.{}Jeanie Atkins says, "I was so alone before I met her . My family doesn't understand it. My friends are supportive. But, you need someone that understands you.{} The accent I can live with; but, FAS, what it means for my life.. it's memory loss, vertigo, imbalance; it's a compromised immune system."{}{}{}{} Atkins and Mullinix agree that the devastating affects of FAS go beyond the individual with it.{}{}{}{} While people are often fascinated with the way, they speak.{}{}{}{} Mullinix says there's no known cure and it's something she wouldn't wish on anyone.{}{}{}{} Jeanie Atkins, who speaks with a British accent, is from Bluff Park, now lives in Oxford. {}{}{}{}{} Mullinix says, there are less than 100 known cases of Foreign Accent Syndrome in the world. {}{}{}{} Karen Mullinx helps lead or is apart of three international support groups on Facebook. {}{}{}{} One is an open group.{} Go to Foreign Accent Awareness.{}{}{} Members are from around the world.{}{} {}{}{}{} She has close ties with two experts on FAS, Dr. Nick Miller in London and Dr. Jack Ryalls In Florida. {}{}{}{} They have written a book called Foreign Accent Syndrome which Karen Mullinix says, she and other people with FAS have contributed to.