Archive for the ‘Aphasia Recovery’ Category

Aphasia Recovery and Oral Reading

November 3, 2012

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:

Carol Cline Schultz, Author

Crossing the Void: My Aphasic Journey

New Hope for Aphasia: Reading Aloud Can Help

September 17, 2012

A new aphasia therapy method promises significant hope for more people. Please find my article in the Bellingham Herald Prime Time magazine about “phonomotor therapy”. For more information, — Aphasia Research Laboratory at the University of Washington: 206-685-2140 or

Aphasia: Help Me Communicate

August 30, 2012

Aphasia’s “wordlessness” is bewildering not only to the victim, but also to those who interact with them, including doctors. The victims cannot speak, and often cannot read and write. The doctors most needed to support them do not comprehend the situation. Each group finds itself in an awkward, uncomfortable communicative vacuum that too often leaves the victims feeling ignored and abandoned.

Some in the speech profession are striving admirably to remedy that vacuum. University of Washington Aphasia Retreat Day professors stressed the importance of doctors being able to communicate with their aphasic patients and suggested that one way would be to use a form similar to the one below. It can be prepared for the aphasic victim by a speech therapist or caregiver to be presented to the doctor.

Items can be checked off, added or subtracted as they may apply to particular communication needs. What doctors learn from one aphasic will help future patients.

Tips for communicating with someone with aphasia.*

I have aphasia. Below I have marked some ways that you can help me communicate. Please remember that my thinking and memory are good. I just cannot communicate easily with language.

 _____   Talk a little slower, but still use a normal tone of voice. No “baby talk.”

_____   Face me when you talk so I can watch you. That helps me understand.

_____   Use gestures and body language to help convey what you are saying.

_____   Write down key words you are saying. Write down anything you need me to remember.

_____   Draw simple pictures to help me understand.

_____   I want to know all of the information, but explain it slowly and clearly. Define new words for me.

 Things you can do to help me express myself:

 _____   Allow me to use my communication notebook or other communication aid.

_____   Give me extra time to answer you.

_____   Sometimes it is hard for me to say exactly what I mean. Check to be sure you understood what I meant.

_____   I use a lot of gestures, body language, or drawing to communicate. Watch me closely.

_____   If I get stuck, it is OK with me if you try to guess what I am say. Or ….

_____   If I get stuck, please do not interrupt me. Please wait until I finish what I am saying.

 Getting help from my family or other caregivers:

 _____  I like to have my family with me to help. However, please still talk directly to me and include me in conversations.

 *Form contributed by Dr. Carolyn Baylor and Dr. JoAnn Silkes, Aphasia Day 2012 Handout.

Carol Schultz, Author

Crossing the Void: My Aphasic Journey