Richard, Eydie, and Jackie

Aphasia Threads: Richard, Eydie, and Jackie

Welcome to the Aphasia Threads Project, which weaves together three points-of-view: people with aphasia, caregivers, and the professionals who help each family navigate aphasia. Each week, we bring together three unrelated stories, one from each member of this triad, to learn from their experience. This week, we’ll hear from Richard, a person with aphasia, who had a stroke while on a ventilator. Then, we’ll hear from Eydie, who is a caregiver for her brother who had a stroke five years ago. Finally, we’ll hear from Jackie, who works in an aphasia center.

Aphasia Threads

Person with Aphasia

I suffered a stroke while on a ventilator.

Aphasia Changes Your Life

Communicating with others who do not understand aphasia.

But There Are Things That Help

Participate in weekly speech therapy program at the University of Montavello.

And Things You Learn Along the Way

Don’t lose hope and continue to be patient with yourself.

What Caregivers and Professionals Can Learn From Me

The students who work with me at the speech therapy program at the University of Montevello are very knowledgeable and understand what aphasia is all about. Just be patient with me so that I can communicate what I want to say.

Aphasia Threads

Caregiver

My brother had a massive stroke five years ago.

Aphasia Changes Your Life

I visit him often and find it very frustrating to see him, day in and out, with no change.

But There Are Things That Help

Television is the only thing he has wants. Nothing else but to die.

And Things You Learn Along the Way

Constant speech therapy.

What People with Aphasia and Professionals Can Learn From Me

How can I help him to speak? He gets very aggravated when I pursue him. So just be there for them.

Aphasia Threads

Professional

Jackie works at an aphasia center.

I began volunteering at a local aphasia center in graduate school. There was an immediate interest and connection with people who have aphasia. I am still at the aphasia center as a paid employee 10 years later.

Jackie

What I’ve Noticed Along the Way

Working with people with aphasia is, in my opinion, the most rewarding job out there. I work at an aphasia center where we focus on not only language recovery, but life participation. One of the biggest barriers when working with a person with aphasia can be their confidence and reduced awareness to how much progress they are actually making. This can often cause isolation and loneliness in the person with aphasia. One of the greatest joys is facilitating and supporting people with aphasia’s communication to show them and their families they can do more than they think they can.

There Are Things That Help

I use the Semantic Features Analysis quite a bit in one-on-one therapy as well as groups, whether it be in the structured format or taking bits and pieces of it to use in different activities. I think it is not only a great therapy tool but a great starting point for most language tasks.

And I Encourage New Professionals to Learn About Aphasia

Give the person with aphasia extra time before jumping in to cue or help. I train a lot of students, and I feel the hardest thing to overcome is getting over the “normal” amount of time it takes a person to respond. Learning it is okay to have some “white space” between asking a question and gaining a response can help the person with aphasia feel more at ease.

What People with Aphasia and Caregivers Can Learn From Me

It takes a couple of meetings or sessions to really grasp the whole person with aphasia. Meaning – the person with aphasia is not a test score. It may take an SLP several sessions to fully understand what helps the person with aphasia and tailor the therapy to them specifically. It is also important, as a caregiver, to ask questions. The more you know and understand aphasia, the better you can communicate with your loved one. My favorite and most successful families have been the ones who ask the most questions!

Aphasia Threads

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