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Three Ways to Add Speech Therapy to Everyday Activities

Caregiver and stroke survivor practice speech therapy at home.

When a loved one suffers a stroke or acquired brain injury that results in aphasia, family members often want to assist in the recovery process.  Questions regarding home activities that can assist with language and communication recovery frequently arise.  However, it can be difficult for families to determine what types of activities would be beneficial and helpful. 

Using the Life Participation Approach to Aphasia persons with aphasia (PWA) can still have meaningful life experiences despite having communication impairments. The Life Participation Approach focuses on the “real-life goals of people affected by aphasia” and an emphasizes “re-engagement in life by strengthening daily participation in activities of choice.” Today, there are many resources that are available to help support the long-term communication needs of PWA.  A speech-language pathologist is often the best resource for obtaining this type of information, as it is not a “one-size-fits-all” paradigm.  No two persons with aphasia are exactly alike in terms of their abilities and their communication needs.  Therefore, seeking out input from a speech-language pathologist is highly recommended. 

Below are just a few examples of various tasks and activities that have been modified to facilitate the PWA’s participation and communication.  Using these methods, in addition to speech therapy, can help the PWA have successful communication in all aspects of their everyday life.    

1. Add Speech Therapy to Everyday Tasks

Preparing Lists and Grocery Shopping

Have the PWA copy the names of needed items from the grocery store flyer.  See if they can try to say the words, or imitate a family member saying the words.  While at the grocery store, see if they can locate items from the list.   You could also ask yes/no questions regarding the list.  For example, “Do we need milk?”

Reading the Newspaper

Ask them to locate various sections of the newspaper (i.e. movie listings, sports section) to work on reading and listening skills.  Review the weather forecast, as weather picture symbols are often listed for the local area, which can help with their understanding.  Ask yes/no questions, such as, “Is it going to be sunny today?”, or “Is it going to snow today?”

Looking at Family Photos

Reminisce over family photos.  Ask the PWA questions about the photos.  They can be yes/no questions, either spoken or written down, or consider asking and writing a more open-ended question and providing the PWA possible answer choices.  For example, speak and write: “What was your favorite activity at Disney World?”  Then, write down and verbally review possible answers, such as,  “a) seeing the castle; b) spending time with family; c) going on the rides; d) enjoying the nice weather; e) all of the above”.  This provides the PWA with opportunities to express an opinion or make a comment.

2. Use Specialized Workbooks and Software

Aphasia Workbooks

There are several companies that sell workbooks and other products to address speech and language difficulties. Linguisystems and The Speech Bin are just two examples. For additional options, a simple internet search for “Aphasia workbooks” will yield additional results.

Aphasia Computer Programs

  • Parrot Software offers a monthly internet subscription program for personal computers, as well as iPads.  There are a variety of computer programs to address speech and language difficulties.  Tasks can be modified for different levels of ability with corrective feedback provided.
  • Bungalow Software sells computer software programs with numerous options that are specifically designed to meet the needs of persons with aphasia and other communication difficulties.  There are different levels of difficulty for many of the tasks with corrective feedback provided.

3. Take Advantage of Books and Movies Adapted for Persons with Aphasia

Aphasia-Friendly Book Club

The Aphasia Center of California has created support materials for a number of popular books such as, “The Greatest Generation Speaks” by Tom Brokaw, and “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom.  These materials can be downloaded directly from the website for a fee.  Fees vary, depending on the length of the book.  The materials include chapter summaries that have been simplified, along with worksheets to stimulate discussion.  Although intended for an aphasia book club, the materials can be utilized on an individual with basis with family members’ support.  A speech-language pathologist can guide family members with how to best utilize these materials at home.  This is a great way to continue an individual’s love of reading after a stroke.

Aphasia and the Movies

Speaking of Aphasia is an aphasia therapy practice in New Jersey that is heavily focused on the "life participation approach."  They offer “Aphasia Film Forum” support materials for internet download at a nominal fee.  Movie titles include, “The Devil Wears Prada” with Meryl Streep and “The Pursuit of Happyness” with Will Smith.  A speech-language pathologist can guide family members with how to best utilize these materials at home.

By: Kim Winter MA CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist at Hospital for Special Care

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"The Life Participation Approach focuses on the 'real-life goals of people affected by aphasia' and an emphasizes 're-engagement in life by strengthening daily participation in activities of choice.'"

More on Aphasia

For more information on understanding an managing aphasia, explore the articles in Stroke-Network.com's Speech & Communication section.

Understanding Aphasia

Everything a stroke survivors needs to know to understand the different types of aphasia, diagnoses and initial treatment strategies. Read more here.

The High Price of Aphasia

For stroke survivors coping with aphasia, the costs can be personal, professional, and financial. Read more here.

Tools for Improving Communication

Four easy tools that help stroke survivors improve communication and comprehension. Read the complete article here.

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