Aphasia Recovery and Oral Reading

When aphasia took my words, I wanted to meet someone who had recovered from it. I wanted to know how they did it. In the end, the how that worked for me came with great difficulty because it did not come from speech therapists.

At that time, traditional aphasia therapy emphasized learning one word at a time. Yet the one word at a time approach was too high a threshold for me because the foundation of speech is in the sounds that words make. Assisted by school teacher friends, I learned to speak by learning to read aloud. Although I did not know what was happening at the time, it was because I was first forced to absorb sounds (phonics) before I could process words.

Oral reading was not completely foreign to the speech profession at the time, but it was not utilized. A report by Ron Cole and Leora Cherney wrote about Oral Reading for Language in Aphasia with Virtual Therapist (ORLA) studies conducted in 1986 and 1995. They stated, “Interestingly, the earliest studies of ORLA indicated that individuals improved not only in reading comprehension, but also in other modalities, including oral expression, auditory comprehension, and written expression.”

I am hopeful a new study called Phonomotor Therapy for Aphasia is moving the profession in the right direction. The rationale of the study is to provide an experimental speech therapy where individual sounds of the English language are trained. This summer I observed several sessions and came away very excited about its promise. Today I attend an event where the data collected from this large treatment grant will be presented. Hopefully, my aphasic mind will be able to absorb enough of what I hear to be able to share with you.

For more information about Phonomotor Therapy for Aphasia: http://depts.washington.edu/sphsc/labsites/kendall/about.htm

Carol Cline Schultz, Author

Crossing the Void: My Aphasic Journey

www.CrossingTheVoid.com

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