The ASHA Leader asked readers, "What is your greatest challenge in treating people with aphasia?" Here's what some of them said:
It is challenging to pick the most challenging aspect, but one of the top three for me is empowering the stroke survivor to participate in social activities (i.e., hobbies, friend events, etc.) after the neurological event that the person participated in before the event; and finding activities they can enjoy for a high quality of life. I helped co-facilitate and co-create an aphasia support group, which has been a blessing for the community, the survivors and their loved ones, and for me! We meet once a month and the group is co-facilitated by an SLP and a medical social worker. Aphasia survivors and their loved ones attend in a group setting; each month we have a new topic and have an opportunity to bring up frustrations empowered by solutions.
Jennye Johnson, MS, CCC-SLP
Family Education: I
For me, the most difficult challenge is educating the family on how to help their loved one. I see so many well-meaning spouses and adult children trying to help, but ultimately leading to the two extremes of helping too much—or not helping enough.
I am a big believer in conversational partner training to help reduce frustration and ultimately build confidence, trust, and increased hope in the recovery process.
Jena Casbon, MS, CCC-SLP
Family Education: II
Getting family members to stop treating them like they are children. I overcome it through caregiver/family education.
Jennifer Armenti, MS, CCC-SLP
Family Education: III
One of the biggest influences on my choice to become a SLP was seeing the aphasia groups at a hospital where I worked! It was always an amazing experience!
I've only been a student to this point, but for me thus far, my biggest challenge has been family education and training. I've been stunned by how frequently people assume that their loved one with aphasia is now a completely different—and less intelligent—person. It's really driven home the importance of our role as educators for both the person with aphasia (PWA) and the person's family and peers. Part of our job is acknowledging and helping make sense of what HAS changed in the PWA and loved ones' lives, as well as helping to show what HASN'T changed, and this can easily be just as important as diagnostics and therapy for improving a PWA's quality of life.
Rebecca Berkowitz, MA, CF-SLP
No Deficit Awareness
Fluent aphasics with no deficit awareness!! The way they look at you like you are crazy, and the families always think they understand everything...
Susan Rothberg Nerheim, MS, CCC-SLP
Watching my patients with severe expressive aphasia/apraxia wrestle with the catastrophic changes in their lives. Not being able to speak affects everything. I provide treatment, encourage them, provide strategies and support, but still feel deeply for their loss. They always ask: When will I be normal? I have begun to refer them for adjunctive, supportive counseling.
Kathy Horner Palatucci, MA, CCC-SLP