Friday, July 31, 2015

Aphasia: 7-Suggestions for Speaking Improvement
         (Learned On the Other Side of the Pond)

Mark Ittleman
The Teaching of Talking
July 29 / 2015

Dear Readers and Friends:

Malka and I have returned to America from a 6 week assignment in London where we were consulting with families regarding their loved ones with speaking difficulties.  We went to train family members and interested friends in methods that help people improve the ability to speak.  Therapy was provided in their homes and schduled for many hours each day.

Multi-family housing in London
It is our sincere belief that in many-most cases the assistance of family members is critical to the improvement of communication and the ability to speak, as long as the person with the speaking difficulty is stimuable, or able to imitate sounds, syllables, words, phrases and sentences and has the ability to comprehend and recall. The method of speech and language stimulation involves stimulating speech within a conversation that involves inquiries into an individuals interests, values and expertise. We believe people will be more forthcoming with speaking if given the opportunity to speak about what truly interests them. Then there is a true reason to speak!

This article summarizes some of the learnings from the London experience, and we  hope you will also benefit and apply some of the principles when helping your family member, loved one, or client.

What we learned that can help you…

  1. It makes no difference which side of the pond you happen to be on. The same fundamental principles of speaking improvement apply.
  2. Consider making the person with the speaking difficulty the “expert” or teacher. Take a sincere interest in what they know and what they value. A clinician can typically get more speaking if the conversation revolves around the client’s interests. This can be done at whatever level of difficulty an individual is capable of. Recently we worked with a gentleman who was capable of 3-4 syllable utterances. Therefore our stimulation focused on methods to stimulate the number of syllables he was capable of per utterance. Speech therapy should always be geared to the individuals speaking abilities rather than trying to make the person fit within the parameters of a device, software or therapy technique.
  3. Speech results seem to be superior when therapist and client speak the same language. When that is not possible, a translator or intermediary is helpful.
  4. No matter how much individualized therapy is provided, there is no substitute for family involvement since skilled speech and language therapy will eventually end.
  5. The long-range results of speech therapy will be dependent on a full commitment by the client and family to learn methods to improve speaking and utilize them at every opportunity.
  6. Client and family must fully cooperate with one another and be willing to have speech and language stimulated with daily regularity and during leisure times. They should be equally motivated to improve speaking.
  7. A stroke and aphasia not only happen to the individual, but also affects family and loved ones. It really is the family who has aphasia. It is for this reason why it is incumbent on each family member to learn what can be done to help their loved one with aphasia and to learn methods for speech and language stimulation. 
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In future articles I will share other insights you will find helpful when assisting adults with aphasia and children with developmentally delayed language.

We’re glad to be back home in the good ole’ USA, but will sorely miss the wonderful relationships and friendships made in London, UK.  We look forward to helping others with aphasia right here in the U.S. with our online video training course, mentoring program and on-location consulting.

Moshe Mark Ittleman, M.S., CCC/SLP
Senior Speech Language Pathologist
Author: Teaching of Talking

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