Saturday, October 17, 2015

Caregivers & Therapists Learning To Think - Aphasia Speech Therapy

Mark A. Ittleman
The Teaching of Talking
Oct 8 / 2015

We are teaching graduate students in speech language pathology and working with their clients who have aphasia. It has been a real pleasure and challenge to work with students and caregivers, while teaching them how to stimulate speech and language.  Their professor invited us to California to pursue student training and research to compare the results of the Teaching of Talking Approach to Conventional Speech Therapy.

This is an interesting experience for us, being at a major University and teaching graduate students and caregivers, simultaneously, in speech language therapy the fundamental principals and methods to stimulate speech and language without photos, pictures, flash cards, apps, or homework sheets. They are learning The Teaching of Talking Method which is a way to talk in a conversation while simultaneously improving the speaking of those with aphasia. (The skills that took a whole career of over 40 years to master.)

One of the first things we have been teaching the students is how to:

I.  Observe

How to initially in the evaluative process get away from the Standardized Tests they are so fearful of, and enter into a conversation with the person who has difficulty talking.  They are learning how to develop rapport, since the first principal is not only to observe, but also to engage the person and keep in mind that they are becoming our next best friend.  

You heard me right!  Best friends talk and joke with each other, and tell one another interesting tidbits of what has been learned and experienced in living.  And it does not matter if the conversation is at a single word, two word, or even phrases or sentence levels.  While conversing and finding out about the other person, the therapist or caregiver learns to observe speaking, and listens to the processes involved in talking while obtaining recordings of the language spoken that can then be compared later with other recordings that often show considerable increase in the number of words spoken as well as improved grammatical, phonological and syntactical abilities.

II.  The ability to Stop, Look, and Listen

Students and caregivers are initially scared; their clients are fearful. The standardized tests that are given may not always address the types of deficits many with aphasia have which include the breakdown in the ability to comprehend and construct spoken speech and language.  Many tests and subtests are not always appropriate for severe speaking difficulties, and students can be so focused on making sure they “do the test right” that often much of their attention is on giving the test rather than having open ears, eyes and mind that can speak, interact, listen, watch, and observe.

We are looking at a new and different model of student and caregiver training, and this is the model that has been used to train caregivers, and family members for decades. Students, caregivers, therapists and family members are learning to do what it took me over 40 years to develop when it comes to the stimulation of speech and language with those with aphasia or children with speech and language delay and the skill can be promptly learned and improved over time.

Besides gaining rapport, the ability to converse with another human being, whether they have a speaking difficulty or not is an exceptional skill that speech language pathology students and practitioners are improving to earn the trust, respect, and cooperation of those with whom they work.

Our students and caregivers are learning how to stop, look and listen.  They are trained to think; about what is going on during the process of speaking especially when there is a breakdown, while simultaneously using their mind and common sense to independently figure out goals and approaches for improvement.

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

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