Speech Therapy for Dysarthria or Aphasia Can be Stimulating!

Speech Therapy does not have to be boring or stupid!

Speech Therapy does not have to be boring or stupid!

I use to hate doing traditional speech therapy for aphasia in adults, and so did most patients.  It is often boring for everyone involved and may lack creativity and spontaneity.   I can not tell you how many times patients have told me that speech therapy for them seemed boring and stupid.   I am writing this blog today in order to make a point to everyone involved in the process.  Speech therapy can be enlightening, exciting and educational for not only the person with the speaking difficulty but also for caregiver and therapist.

Case in point:  Sammy is a patient I had started in speech therapy last week.  He does not need cognitive therapy, or to  follow one or two step commands, confrontational naming or problem solving blah blah blah.……Sammy is dehabilitated.  That means he is weak from his illness.   He had a stroke, which left him unable to independently get out of bed, and right now he is confined to a wheelchair.  Thank goodness he is getting physical and occupational therapies.  He also was left with a hoarse, breathy voice and slurred speech which causes people to ask him to repeat himself, often 2-3 times.  He’s a cool guy and speaks with a distinct accent.  It’s familiar; a mixture of African-American, French, and southern white; that’s about the only way I can describe it.  

Louisiana was named after King Louis-XIV-of-France

Louisiana was named after King Louis-XIV-of-France

The other day I learned the difference between a Coonasse, a Cajun, and a Creole from Sammy; something I had always wanted to know.  Do you know how sometimes we want the answer to a question, but never find the time to find out?  Well I had that opportunity during a speech therapy session.  It really brought me into rapport and by the end of the visit we were laughing, and becoming the best of friends.  Why?  Because we were talking about something that was near and dear to his heart!  His homeland, the place he was raised…his culture and heritage.

As stated above, Sammy has a weak voice that is breathy and hoarse while also having slurred and imprecise articulation of speech sounds.  When I showed Sammy how to speak loudly after my model, he was able to get a normal voice, and his articulation improved  spontaneously.  It was like killing 2 birds with one stone!.  (We increased the loudness and the voice and motor speech performance improved.)

Once Sammy got the idea in his head that he could speak clearly and normally in simple phrases and sentences, I started to ask him to talk about living in Louisiana; the food, people, geography, and favorite past times.  He also shared the history, culture, socio-economics, and leisure activities.  I learned about people living in the swamps of Louisiana and how some make their living hunting alligators, crocodiles, swamp rats, shrimp, and other bounty from the waters.  He also freely gave me information about growing up in Louisiana, and some very interesting experiences in stories; all in simple sentences, while speaking loudly, and sounding like his his old self, before the stroke.

This is another reason why I wrote the Teaching of Talking, Learn How to Stimulate Speech and Language at Home, for Children and Adults.  It is a book for both caregivers and speech language pathologists, and emphasizes the need for both caregivers and therapists to learn how to stimulate language spontaneously that engages conversation and the need to talk with one another.  The Teaching of Talking emphasizes talking which is why people usually come to the speech language pathologist.  It is available at Amazon, and most major book purchasing websites in both the paperback and Digital-Kindle edition, and it was just released by audible.com in Audio-Book format.  It can also be purchased on our website at teachingoftalking.com and is personally autographed with a free pocket technique guide.  I hope this helps!

I encourage you to share our blogs with your friends and organizations, so that others can learn about a new school approach to speech and language stimulation that is fun and interactive.  To receive our blogs please put your contact information in the box on the home page of teaching of talking.  Please like us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/teachingoftalking ,

Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/markittleman for educational videos                    

Our website is at http://www.teachingoftalking.com .  

You’ll be glad you stopped by!  Lots of information for both caregivers and speech language pathologists.

Until Nest time……..Best regards to all!


About Mark Ittleman

Mark Ittleman is a Senior Speech Language Pathologist and serves those with moderate to profound speaking difficulties. He consults with many of the best rehabilitation hospitals and now travels the country with his wife, and lectures at Universities, Hospitals, and Aphasia Organizations. He also consults with people all over the world with speaking difficulties and their families.
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