People with Aphasia for People with Aphasia from Connect

Aphasia survivors helping each other are instrumental in recovery, as is evident in this report  from Connect (www.ukconnect.org), the communication disability network based in the UK:

“Aphasia can affect the ability to read, write, speak or use numbers. It affects each person differently. It can affect anyone at any time and at any age. When aphasia strikes it changes people’s lives in an instant. Aphasia can lead to isolation, the breakdown of relationships and at times depression.  At Connect we make sure that people with aphasia are at the centre of everything we do. They act as trustees, trainers, advisors, staff members, volunteers, interviewers, service deliverers, co-facilitators, activist and hub members. Connect has a very strong peer-led philosophy. We work in equal partnership with people with aphasia, to develop and offer services that are run by people with aphasia for people with aphasia. An example of our peer-led philosophy in practice is our weekly drop-ins at our London centre, our befriending schemes and our special interests groups.

Below Carol tells her story. Carol Griffiths had a stroke in 2007 when she was 42. She was leading a busy life as a MENCAP carer, teaching assistant and foster mother.”

“One day out of the blue I had a stroke and in an instant and my ability to talk was wiped out. I felt so isolated and confused because I could not communicate with people. I felt depressed and very anxious about how“Aphasia can affect the ability to read, write, speak or use numbers. It affects each person differently. It can affect anyone at any time and at any age. When aphasia strikes it changes people’s lives in an instant. Aphasia can lead to isolation, the breakdown of relationships and at times depression.  At Connect we make sure that people with aphasia are at the centre of everything we do. They act as trustees, trainers, advisors, staff members, volunteers, interviewers, service deliverers, co-facilitators, activist and hub members. Connect has a very strong peer-led philosophy. We work in equal partnership with people with aphasia, to develop and offer services that are run by people with aphasia for people with aphasia. An example of our peer-led philosophy in practice is our weekly drop-ins at our London centre, our befriending schemes and our special interests groups. I could parent my children properly. I lost most of my old friends, as people lost patience with me. I felt trapped, with my confidence destroyed. I couldn’t carry on with my old life.

Connect helped me to come to terms with what had happened to me. They helped me understand that I didn’t have to go through this process alone. Step by step with diligence and patience they taught me how to communicate and recover my life back. Meeting other people who know what aphasia is like is the key to feeling like I can be myself again. It also is the key to unlocking my potential in helping others and being independent. That’s what Connect and the Connect Cornwall project is all about. With new hope and confidence I wanted a new purpose in life and to ensure that people didn’t become isolated like I did. That’s why I trained to be a Connect befriender.

 

The first person I visited was Kay. She lived by herself after having aphasia for four years and had little therapy or support. I have helped encourage her to communicate again and in our own way, we chatted about lots of things. I got huge satisfaction from seeing Kay blossom and was delighted when she felt confident enough to train to be a befriender like me.

Since befriending, I’ve gone from strength to strength. I have recently qualified as a teacher and am due to start work soon. Imagine that! I now love standing up and talking to people. When I first came to Connect I couldn’t say ‘Boo’ to a goose.”

 

As reported from Connect.

Shared by Carol Cline Schultz, author. “Crossing the Void: My Aphasic Journey”, Carol@CrossingtheVoid.com

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