March 2014: Three new words

Three new words

In 2006 a stroke caused Steve to lose his speech; since then he has been able to say “1,2,3”, “difficult” and a few other words. His frustration has been immense and the impact on family life is beyond measure.

This Saturday evening our daughters had a baking competition, Steve was the judge. Gina (now aged 14) presented a large, well risen, Oreo cake while Tanya (now aged 8) proudly handed over a modest, highly decorated chocolate cake. Tanya asked her dad whose cake was the best. He turned to her and said “Yours”! This was a word that Steve had not been able to find for eight years. Later that night he named both of our daughters. Tanya had not heard her daddy say her name since she was 10 months old and Gina since she was 5.

Relief

Over the past couple of months Steve and I have been sharing a sense of relief. He was told that he could not overcome his word finding difficulties but he has never accepted this and I made him a promise that I would not leave him locked inside himself.

When Steve finished his allocated set of speech and language therapy sessions we found it very difficult to get more. The cost of private therapy was prohibitive and the logistics of getting to and from hospital departments made it impossible. I tried to help him at home but his progress has been painfully slow. This is what motivated me to create apps for aphasia and stroke; I wanted some way for him to work on his word finding difficulties at home.

“Find a word Dad”

As a former karate master Steve understands the importance of consistent training. When I gave him an iPad with our Talk Around IT apps he started to work. Over the past few months as I do homework with the children or wash the dishes I hear my voice coming from his iPad as he practises for hours every day. When I come home from work he points to the iPad and says “good”. I knew that working with the apps was helping him to feel like he was doing something positive but I was worried that I had invested everything and spent all this time away from home developing apps that might not work.

Over the past month Steve has learned approximately one new word a week but this seems to be speeding up now and it is immensely exciting for all of us. We have all agreed that Dad has to use his words every time he talks to us; last night I heard Tanya tell him that he had to “find a word” for her, he did, he found her name.

I am not writing this as proof that our apps work, we have ongoing trials for that. I am simply sharing a personal experience so that it might give hope to other families living with speech and language difficulties. It is so important to keep searching for words and searching for ways to make life better.

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