A few days ago, I posted on Facebook a home program I was working on for a client. Like most people with aphasia, this particular client needs to spend a lot of time with his words and practicing the skills we learn in treatment. A good way to do that is with a home program.
Recovery from stroke can be a very long process.
Speech therapy is so important to help progress in recovery. Even after 6, 12, 18, 36 months, progress can still happen. A skilled Speech Language Pathologist helps:
break down a task into something manageable
determine the right level of complexity
identify what strategies to use
....and much, much more.
Then you need to practice.
Practice the tasks, work with the words and sounds and visuals - pictures, written word. Research shows hours and hours of practice, sometimes hundreds of hours of practice are needed. Not all that practice requires the skills of a SLP. Most of the hours can be done on their own, if they know what to do and have the right support: a trained communication partner, a loved one, an app are all options.
The tricky part is WHAT to practice and at what level. I've had some families download an aphasia app, then are concerned that their loved one won't use the app. When we try it out together, we find the problem. Sometimes the settings are too complex, it's too difficult for the client to navigate on their own, or the tasks aren't the ones the client needs.
Your SLP can design a custom program to compliment your speech therapy program - at YOUR level, with tasks for YOUR type of aphasia.
I use written words and/or photos to develop a program, like this one (to the right) I created last week. My client didn't understand writing or drawing out his program, and was having trouble following through. With the pictures, it all made more sense and was easier for him to practice between our sessions.
more of the right kind of practice = more progress
The program might be written tasks, scrabble pieces, apps, cards, ordering their own coffee at a restaurant, anything that is functional and addresses important communication skills for that individual.
I like to use apps as part of the program because they provide some feedback - they let the client know if the answer is right or wrong, and sometimes get hints. Apps also provide sound models which can be very helpful, especially for phonomotor or reading programs.
If a client has Tactus apps, I adjust the settings on the client's tablet, then use my picture home program to help the client know exactly what buttons to push to get to the target task. Other programs, like Constant Therapy, let me set up the tasks, and the app will run the client through the series of exercises.
Apps are not perfect though and don't replace a skilled Speech therapist.