Not everyone has access to intensive speech therapy—and not just because we’re in the middle of a pandemic right now. Even before stay-at-home orders, intensive speech therapy may have been out of reach for many people with aphasia.
When we explored this topic during our last online Aphasia Cafe chat, only 47% stated they had done some form of intensive therapy. But 40% did not partake in intensive therapy, and an additional 13% didn’t know about intensive therapy programs. High cost, high time commitment, or distance are three obstacles for daily speech therapy programs.
Which is why some people are making their own intensive speech therapy program and completing it at home.
An At-Home Therapy Solution
Mert spoke about the program her late husband Tommy pulled together for her following her stroke. She started with formal speech therapy once or twice a week (for a duration of six to eight weeks), but he followed it up with her so-called “homework.” She states that he showed her pictures and used them to have her recite “action words, basic personal items, clothing, family and friends in photos, feelings, grocery items, etc. Those that I couldn’t express with a word, I would do my best to describe what I was thinking.”
He didn’t let her give up. He would take her to the mall or park, even when she was tired and lovingly wanted to punch him. He would have her describe what she saw while they were out-and-about. She admits: “Although I disliked the grueling daily intensive therapy almost 16 years ago, the love of my life helped me to become a stroke survivor with residual aphasia today.”
In fact, Mert gives speeches via her local Toastmasters International club, a testament to all the hard work she put in with daily therapy guided by her husband after the stroke.
The History of Self-Therapy
Mert is in good company. Roald Dahl, writer of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and other beloved classics created a therapy program for his wife, Patricia Neal.
As we wrote in her profile:
After the stroke, Dahl was upset to learn that there wasn’t a set game plan to nurse his wife back to health. He was told that she would get one hour of rehabilitation per day, a fact that left him incredulous. Instead, he built a program where she constantly in speech therapy and brain training.
Due to Neal’s success, Dahl wrote a guide and inspired a new method of rehabilitation.
Everything Is Therapy
A speech therapist on our Aphasia Cafe call asked everyone to expand their definition of therapy. For instance, participating in an online chat is therapy. You’re practicing speech, you’re using listening skills, and you’re working to put thoughts into words. All of the activities in our 30-day One Aphasia Action challenge are speech therapy (and they were designed by a speech therapist).
If each of those activities take between five minutes and a half-hour to complete, you could design your own daily intensive therapy session by stringing together several activities from the list.
And while some people have a loved one, family member, or friend who can guide the therapy, others may need to guide their own therapy. Many of the activities on the One Aphasia Action list do not require another person to complete.
We’d love to hear YOUR story of at-home aphasia therapy. Please leave it in the comment section below.