Meet Treat Street Therapy Aphasia Group, located in San Francisco’s Mission District. The group meets once a month on Saturday mornings (10 am to 11:30 am) and is home to the 50 Word Challenge. Keep reading to learn more from Maureen McKeown, MA CCC-SLP about this unique aphasia program.

treat street
Tatonka the “therapy dog” with Maureen McKeown, MA CCC-SLP (left) and Joanne Lacson-Seiferle, CCC-SLP (right)

Services Provided at Treat Street

I am a sole provider, ASHA certified speech-language pathologist. I opened my little business in 2008 and have been providing evaluations and treatment for both children and adults in San Francisco since then.

My goal has been to be a trustworthy neighborhood business. To that end I decided early on to accept insurance, including Medicare. I wanted affordable speech-language therapy to be available in this community. I also wanted to be able to control the flow of patients, to take my time to do solid work, to limit bureaucracy and to have fun.

Aphasia has always had my attention. A class by Dr. Roberta Elman, PhD, CCC-SLP (Aphasia Center of California) about the Life Participation Approach to aphasia therapy inspired me to start the aphasia group. My group has been running for about 5 years, and several of the original participants continue to attend.

A random phone call several years ago from Dr. Isabelle Hubbard, PhD, CCC-SLP, researcher at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Memory and Aging Center, created a lasting connection to that center. At that time, there were no local providers of speech-language therapy for people with Primary Progressive Aphasia.

I agreed to do what I could for that population and currently offer evaluations, therapy and family training. I occasionally run a small group for individuals with PPA that is separate from the other aphasia group.

Finding Treat Street

People with aphasia find us from the Treat Street website, from direct referral by their doctors or speech-language pathologists or by word of mouth. I have had to limit group size because we are in a very small space. However we will be moving to a larger space later this year if all goes as planned.

What Makes Treat Street Different?

We are diverse. Cantonese, Hindi, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and English are used here. We are all ages. One of our members recently became a first-time parent. Another unique feature is that we have a wonderful group of student volunteers, who are mostly from San Francisco State University. The students help with all aspects of the group, including providing tech updates at our meetings.

What We Love About Treat Street

It’s fun. The aphasia group is like Cheers, “where everyone knows your name…” It is wonderful to watch communication in all forms no matter how long it takes or how creative we need to get to make it happen. Each member supports every other member in his/her successful communication.

We are in a relaxed space that allows well-behaved pets entry, and we have 2 “therapy dogs”, Patches and Taco, who join the group frequently. The dogs inspire communication in ways I never thought possible. The only challenge? Billing Medicare! Enough said.

A Treat Street Success Story

The successes have nothing to do with me but only with the individuals who have aphasia and are determined to continue living their lives. We have a member who whips out a cell phone and uses Google to find an answer almost before I have finished asking the question. This individual travels all over the Bay Area using public transportation and a power chair. They just earned a technical qualification and are actively looking for work.

Do you also provide aphasia services? Become an National Aphasia Association affiliate.