New Pathways for Speech Recovery 

 Program author and designer, STM speech coach

Strokefamily.org bridges the gap between clinicians and families to help people recover from aphasia and apraxia.   The author, Barbara Dean Schacker, discovered how to trigger speech pathways from early childhood through touch.  Stroke Family is a project of Pathways Publishing, the company that publishes the Whole Speech Practice Kit.  This kit includes online software programs with down-loads, guides and the new Speech Recovery Solutions series.  Barbara also does online Sensory Trigger speech recovery coaching using Skype and other video conferencing apps.

The beginning of a new method

Originally, she set out to find a way to communicate to her global aphasic father.  Her father, Vernon Keller Dean, (who was declared “untreatable”) could only say a few words due to a massive stroke, even though he had two years of speech therapy.

After making a set of picture cards, she devised a non-verbal communication system for him. The cards were laid out on the table to form a “picture command”.  Vernon showed he understood by pointing to an object with his left hand.  He then learned how to pick up the cards with his left hand and place them or string the cards together to ask for ice cream or a ride in her car.  Soon he started to say the words on the card.  That is, he could now repeat the words after she said the words that went with the cards along with him.  She laid out, “Vernon draw cup”  and then,  “Vernon write cup”.

So he made cartoons and copied words in his notebook.  He drew two eggs and bacon and pointed to it to tell his wife, Mable, that he wanted eggs and bacon for breakfast.  Vernon practiced every day.  As a result, 18 months later, he said his first spontaneous word: “Mars”.  More words came back one by one.  When Barbara came to visit he looked at her with a big grin and said, “Amazing!”  He went on to say over 700 words and consequently became confident going to the bank, the grocery store or on the bus by himself.  In addition, he became an artist with his left hand.

Years later, Barbara quit her job to do brain research in order to find out why this had worked.  Suddenly, she had the idea to design a computer program.  She wanted to see if she could duplicate her success with others. It was the beginning of a life-long career.  At the time, she didn’t know she was actually going to invent a whole new method for speech recovery.  She would call it the “Sensory Trigger Method” because she had learned from the research that multi-sensory learning (using all three senses) was very powerful.  Read the whole story.

What is the Sensory Trigger Method?

The Sensory Trigger Method uses touch along with sound and pictures to make new pathways in the brain for speech.  With daily practice, the touch signals make new pathways in the brain for speech.  The person learns to talk in ways linked to early childhood development.  As you can imagine, this works well with children as well as adults. For more information request this free e-book.

Each program draws from over 1600 Core Words.  We start with the easiest words to say. Then the content in each program expands to more challenging expressions.  For example, we add words to make two-word phrases, then three-word sentences and so on.  The three programs are “Let’s Talk”, “Speech Bridge” and “Speech Tree”.  These programs are unique because they can be edited for individual needs and have matching printable speech practice materials to go with them.

Our new course “Affirmations for Speech Recovery” is an activity that’s a big hit with our clients.  It helps overcome negative subconscious beliefs and learned helplessness, while encouraging them to stay motivated.  Affirmations give them hope for the future.  It’s speech practice that actually improves their mood and outlook on life.  The program has 7 levels, starting with single syllable words and progresses to up to 11 word sentences using more complex vocabulary.  It is the first of a new series of short programs, called the “Sensory Trigger Speech Recovery Solutions” series.

The Pathway to Speech Recovery guide is included in the portal.  This is included free from Strokefamily.org  along with many other guides and resources.  This guide explains how to do the method in detail and how to address problems that block speech like depression and “aphasia stage fright”.  People learn how to say what they need, what they want and what they need in the online sessions.  Other free items include the Core Words “talking dictionary”, Daily Activities for Speech Recovery, a Caregiver Guide, as well as a Brain Food guide that explains a special healthy diet and supplements for brain recovery.

Is this method clinically tested for speech therapy?

Yes!  The method is clinically tested and has a long successful track record in being a positive adjunct to speech therapy–particularly for those who have not benefited from speech therapy or are having trouble progressing.  Validation center:  UC Davis Medical School, Speech and Hearing Dept. in 1991.  People who no longer progressed in speech therapy did remarkably well.  100% of them regained some level of speech and enough improvement that they were able to return to a higher level of speech therapy.  The method can easily be blended into any speech therapy approach and other speech therapy programs.

Our method is award-winning!

Also in 1991, the programs won an award from Johns Hopkins University for being the first software designed for speech therapy that used the new natural voice technology.  This ran on an Apple IIe with an Echo voice box and Edmark’s touch window.  Back then, this was a big deal!  Since then, this award-winning method has continued to evolve and incorporate new findings and insights from continued research.

Share our success!

The Whole Speech Practice Kit  is a down-to-earth self-help system for home or rehab or in addition to individual speech therapy.  It contains programs, courses, instructional videos and links to free resources. The kit is easily accessed and operated by just about anyone.  The programs in the Sensory Trigger Speech Recovery Portal are often combined with the excellent video speech coaching over the Internet.  This provides everything you need for intensive and self-paced long-term speech recovery.  Over 90% say their first new words and sentences in our Sensory Trigger Speech Coaching Sessions online.   Stroke survivors can then continue on their own using the programs and courses in the Portal.

Hear what our clients have said about their breakthroughs.  We are proud of our long track record of Success Stories.

In 2008, Barbara’s husband suffered a massive brain injury that wiped out almost all of his left hemisphere.  After a life-saving surgery, Michael was diagnosed with severe aphasia and apraxia.  The neurological team at Albany Medical Center in New York, said, “There will be no speech even with speech therapy because he simply doesn’t have enough brain left.”  Barbara started working with him while he was still in a coma.  She used the method in the ICU when he was unresponsive when doctors and nurses asked him a simple question.  Using the Sensory Trigger, she was able to get responses from him, amazing the staff and doctors.  Then the staff was allowed to adopt the method themselves for future use by the hospital.  It was the beginning of a journey that ironically brought about more sophisticated techniques based on neuroplasticity.  Step-by-step Michael regained his ability to communicate, being able to say spontaneous sentences on his own at 18 months post TBI.  He recoverd enough language skills to help with the publication of his second book, “Global Awakening, New Science and the 21st Century Enlightenment.  Watch video clips as Michael progressed through the stages of recovery. Read about his amazing recovery story here.

Please visit the website or call toll-free 1-855-585-5350 for more information and free tips and watch the video below!

 

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