Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Aphasia Group

Today, I had the pleasure of hosting my first Aphasia group, with two young ladies who had suffered from strokes within the past few months. They both have moderate aphasia, with only mild comprehension deficits, nonfluent speech, difficulty with confrontation naming, and significant word finding difficulties.

This was the first time they had ever met, and you could tell they were both quite nervous. However, as we were doing the icebreaker activity, when one started to talk, the other suddenly exclaimed "She talks like me!!!" and they both burst into giggles. That was all the icebreaker they needed. They had a lovely session, where they encouraged each other, helped cue each other (I was like who's the therapist here now?), gave high fives, and even ganged up on me. It was so good to have that support of someone who was experiencing the same difficulties, who could be patient while waiting for them to get out the right words, because they knew the frustration of knowing what to say, but just not being able to get those words out. Hearing things like "It's ok I have that problem too," "Come on, you can do it," "Don't give up," made me so proud of these two. We were able to do so much more than in an individual session, for example individual therapy sessions are usually based on answering questions, and today I was able to tap into difficulties/strengths in asking questions. By the end of the session they had created a new friendship, made me take their photo together, and exchanged whatsapp information to maintain contact. It was such a blessing to be able to not only help them regain their language skills, but also to provide for them the support of another person who truly understands what they are going through. I'd recommend for any therapist to host an aphasia group and see the impact it has on your clients, and also on you as a professional, and a person.

Session Format:

1. Icebreaker- Participants were required to take turns asking each other and asking questions about themselves. Questions chosen ranged from "what is your name?" to "Do you have a boyfriend?". (They chose the questions not me).

2. How do I feel when….? (Talking about the impact of their stroke, how it has affected their lives)

3. Guessing game- Used functional pictures from the LARK  and played a game where one had to use the strategies they have been learning in therapy to describe a picture of an object (e.g. what does it look like, what is it used for etc.), and the other person guess what it was.

4. Feedback on session

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