We’re continuing with our affiliate highlight series, this time turning our eye to Adler Aphasia Center in multiple locations around New Jersey. This includes full-service facilities in Maywood and West Orange, New Jersey as well as Aphasia Communication Groups in Bridgewater, Haddonfield, Hammonton, Maywood, Monroe, Morristown, North Bergen, Scotch Plains and Toms River, New Jersey.
What Makes Adler Aphasia Center Unique?
Adler Aphasia Center is one of the largest post-rehabilitation long-term aphasia treatment programs in the country. Now in its 15th year, the Center, with two full-service facilities located in Bergen and Essex counties in NJ, has become a national pioneer in post-rehabilitation support services.
The Center has also expanded its services by offering Aphasia Communication Groups throughout the state of NJ. In addition to providing direct services using the Life Participation Approach to Aphasia for people with aphasia and offering caregiver support groups for their loved ones, the Adler Aphasia Center recognizes the need to provide training and education to health care students and professionals so that effective care is more accessible to those with aphasia. The Center also conducts research that focuses on demonstrating the efficacy of our model to expand the understanding of aphasia rehabilitation.
Great Success Stories
Ed, one of our youngest members with aphasia led a life that was enriched by sports. From seeing his first World Series in elementary school to playing basketball, soccer, running track, and skiing through high school, his love of all things sports took a hold of him at an early age.
Ed was captain of his high school’s varsity soccer team for two years and was a star team member of the varsity track team. You could find him with his dad every weekend following the Jets or the Yankees, depending on the season. During summer vacations in New Hampshire, he would swim every day and water ski.
His athletic abilities carried over to college where he received a degree in psychology and took a postgraduate program to become an athletic trainer. Ed interned with the Miami Fusion professional soccer team. Ed’s professional career brought him to Bard College where he worked as Head Athletic Trainer and Director of Fitness and Wellness.
During one of his many opportunities to help his community, Ed signed up for a 10K race, raising money for a local charity. A strong runner still at the age of 33, he felt dizzy and saw bright lights in the middle of this particular race. He rested then got up and finished the race. Two days passed when he complained of a severe headache and was immediately hospitalized. There it was determined that he developed a dissection of the carotid artery.
Complications led to a stroke, putting him in a 47-day coma and leaving him with aphasia and weakness of his right hand and arm. Gone were the days of water and snow skiing, running, playing soccer and basketball. Also gone was the spark that defined Ed pre-stroke.
As his parents say, Adler Aphasia Center, gave him back his life. Ed came to the Center in 2012. He couldn’t say many words and he was slow to meet other members at the Center, being one of the youngest members with aphasia. It took him almost a year for him to say the word ”Dad” again, a huge highlight for his father who hadn’t heard Ed call him that since 2005 and a pivotal point in Ed’s recovery.
With his increasing confidence and self-esteem, Ed has taken the Center by storm. Last year he took on the lead role in the Center’s annual musical production of Grease, using scripting to learn almost 90 minutes of lines. This year he was Gaston (the conceited admirer of Belle) in Beauty and the Beast.
Ed has become the Center’s go-to photographer. With the support of his family and new friends at Adler Aphasia Center, Ed has redirected his life and developed new skills and abilities behind the lens of a camera. And thanks to another younger member with aphasia he met at the Center, he has reacquainted himself with all the sports he once loved and has taken on new ones, thanks to area adaptive sports programs. If you ask him which he prefers––cycling, skiing, kayaking, golfing or sailing––Ed will say “all of the above.”
They Love What They Do
Offering unique services that successfully enrich the lives of those who have been dealt the blow of living with aphasia is both inspirational and impactful to me. The life-altering challenges our Center’s members with aphasia face daily are set aside as they come together to socialize with others with aphasia, build new communication skills and increase their confidence. Being focused on bettering the aphasia community provides me with a strong sense of personal fulfillment.
Services and Support Groups
The programs offered at the Adler Aphasia Center all share the primary goals of enhancing and strengthening the communication skills of Center participants, providing opportunities for social and peer support, building self-esteem and self-confidence, and preparing participants for re-engagement with their former lives.
Support groups for caregivers provide strategies for communicating with loved ones to help facilitate their independence.
By engaging in one-on-one and group activities that develop communication skills required in every-day life, guided by licensed speech language pathologists and life coaches, people with aphasia become more confident in their ability to communicate effectively. They regain the self-esteem that enables them to once again become active members of their families and communities.
The program helps mitigate their isolation, bringing them together with other people with aphasia and volunteers to learn, experience, and confront daily challenges.
Special Services for Caregivers
During our caregiver support group meetings, we offer from time to time, a special lecture series on important topics that are unique to caregivers.
Thanks to major aphasia advocacy efforts led by founders Mike and Elaine Adler, New Jersey is the first state in the nation to sign into law a formal task force that will enact legislation to increase the provision of support services to people with aphasia. Called the Mike Adler Aphasia Task Force, this legislation was sponsored by NJ Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and NJ Senator Bob Gordon.
New Jersey now leads the nation in raising aphasia awareness and hopefully will inspire other states to follow our example. The establishment of the Mike Adler Aphasia Task Force will ensure there are appropriate null resources and support systems available in New Jersey to assist people with aphasia and their families.
A 13-member task force will monitor the prevalence of aphasia in New Jersey; assess the unmet needs of people with aphasia and their families; identify and facilitate the establishment of aphasia support groups and other resources designed to assist in satisfying these unmet needs; and provide recommendations to the Governor and Legislature for legislation or other action that would further facilitate support for New Jerseyans living with aphasia and their families.
Do you live in the state of New Jersey? Contact the Adler Aphasia Center for speech services and support groups.
We’re spending 2018 highlighting our affiliates in order to make it easier for caregivers to find services for their loved ones. Are you an affiliate of the NAA and would like to be highlighted in a future installment? Please fill out the form and we’ll contact you.