We spoke with the the University of Texas at Austin Aphasia Research and Treatment lab (ARTlab) to learn more about their services, their approach, and why they find working with Aphasia so important. In this profile, they also share with us their favorite success story with a patient and what makes their center unique. Check out their NAA listings at the end of the post.
Tell us more about what you do and what services you provide to persons with Aphasia
Our research aims to better understand how specific treatment approaches can improve communication in persons with speech or language difficulty caused by stroke or neurodegenerative disease. Currently, our lab provides treatment to individuals with primary progressive aphasia (PPA), as well as aphasia caused by stroke. We also offer treatment to people who have naming difficulty caused by mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s dementia. Those who qualify receive individual treatment free of charge that specifically addresses their communication difficulties.
What is different about your therapy approach/support group?
We provide individually-tailored treatment to individuals with aphasia in person or via teletherapy (distance therapy via video conferencing software). Teletherapy has been found to be as effective as in-person treatment and allows us to provide services to individuals all over the U.S. and internationally who might not have access to treatment otherwise.
What do you like most about your work?
The best part of our work is connecting with our participants through conversations and sharing of personal stories. Some individuals participate in a script training therapy program. Throughout the process of creating scripts individualized for each person, we hear all about their lives and their many amazing stories. Others participate in naming treatment, where we work together to identify important vocabulary for use in conversation. While gathering personal photos for use in treatment sessions, we learn about each person’s interests and life experiences.
What do you find most challenging?
We want to provide treatment to individuals who are most likely to receive benefit from the specific treatment programs that we offer. Although we would like to provide treatment to all individuals with aphasia, we are a research program, so must limit our enrollment to those who meet certain criteria. We find it very challenging to limit participation in any way. However, we try to offer support and resources to everyone who gets in touch with our lab.
Tell us about your favorite success story with a client
We have had the pleasure of working with many participants over the years. One story that stands out involves an individual with a diagnosis of nonfluent PPA who we have worked with for several years. Early on, we provided him, along with his family, education and counseling regarding his diagnosis. We also worked together on techniques to preserve his speech and language for as long as possible using script training. As his condition progressed, we created an augmentative communication system that he could use during his everyday interactions. It was extremely rewarding to work with this participant and his family as his communication needs evolved over time.
How do persons with aphasia and their families find you?
Many individuals find us via our website or via referrals from their neurologist.
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