There's progress possible when it comes to aphasia

Greta's husband Frank had severe anomia and was unwilling to try talking with their friends. While friends belittled her decision to try intensive therapy, she's thrilled with his confidence now. He's begun to act like his old self again!

I found this place through Aphasia Recovery Connection, which is a nonprofit organization for people to communicate with others who have aphasia. It was on their website that I saw the opportunity to order aphasia tip cards from The Aphasia Center and I ordered the cards. Then I got curious about the Aphasia Center. Then I started reading on your website about what happens here and I thought this sounds amazing.

One friend in particular, whose husband had a stroke 18 years ago, and has no words. She just acted like “you’re chasing rainbows”. “What do you think you’re going to get done after you’ve been through speech therapy and you’ve done inpatient and you’ve done all these things and they have not really given you much hope he can better? What do you think they’re going to do?”

And I said “I think they just see potential. They see hope in almost every situation and why would I not give that a chance? If there’s a possibility that Frank’s communication can improve, then that’s what we’re going to do.”

My dream when we were planning to come here is that we would go back home and carry on conversations in a group of our friends more easily.

I’ve come to believe that it’s not immediately possible, but I do think in time it will be easier for him to participate in group activities and really participate in conversation and give to other people the thoughts and things that are in his mind. But I’ve come to realize that we still have a long way to do and we still have work to do, but there’s hope that it will get better and his communication will be easier for him because of strategies to help him and to practice with him and to involve him. I know that his communication will become easier.

It was really for him before we came here for him to gesture and indicate to me that he wanted something done. Or had I done this or that, he’s very methodical about getting ready to go to bed at night. “Are the doors locked? Have you turned down the thermostat? Have you done this have you done that?”

And one night he said, just like nothing had ever happened, he said to me “have you turned down the thermostat for the night?” and I was just stunned, “listen to you putting those words together in a perfect sentence”. And I wanted to just do the happy dance. It was just so neat to hear all those words come out in a perfect sentence without any pause or any struggle at all. And I thought there is progress.”

I just think that with time, when people are around Frank, they’re going to see that he has more confidence, he’s more willing to participate in conversations, and he’s more willing to work through the steps to find the words that he wants, because we know they’re in there. And it’s not at all that he’s lost his thinking process or the ability to think through a process, it’s just that the words get stuck. They’ll see there’s been progress.

His daughter said to me yesterday, when she saw pictures of his graduation, she said “I’ve seen aphasia in dad’s eyes over the last year and now there’s a sparkle in his eyes that’s more typical of him“. And that makes my heart happy.

“In almost any circumstance, I can’t think of anything because of my experience here and seeing other people make progress when things look kind of hopeless that there’s progress possible in almost any circumstance when it comes to aphasia.”