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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Scrabble As Therapy

Many of you know that Bob used to be a Scrabble Champ. Long before we met, he belonged to a Scrabble Club and used to attend events and tournaments. I remember the first time we played Scrabble. It was a cold winter night in Wisconsin and we had just begun dating when he showed up at my apartment door with his Scrabble game board tucked under his arm. "Do you want to play a game?" He had asked me. I think I laughed and replied that the only games I had played with men recently were "mind games". (I had been divorced for six years then, my dating life had been less than perfect, and I--a bit of a cynic....)

I hadn't played Scrabble since I was a kid, so of course Bob blew me off the board. And his board, my god, it was a high-falutin thing, with a swivel pedestal base and recessed tile markers. Bob bragged that he had only been beaten twice in his life. So the gauntlet was thrown--I figured two can play this game, quite literally. So, I studied his strategy and became quite good at it. So good, that after some time, I beat him! Ha! We have played Scrabble for years now, and are quite well matched, he and I both winning--50% of the time and always scoring in the upper 300's or 400's. We even have our own "romantic" version of the game (I'll leave the details of that up to your imagination....!)

So, it was with some trepidation that I took out the Scrabble board. I had been reading a book written by a man whose wife suffered from asphasia and he mentioned that Scrabble
was good brain therapy. But I was worried, because Bob's reading comprehension is very poor (we are working with Level A Readers and he has a lot of difficulty with them), and his memory is a bit spotty, among other things.

I was quite surprised to see that he remembered how many tiles to pull.  He manages to get all the tiles upright. I can also see him strategizing, trying to figure out how to reach that triple letter or word score. but he struggles to put the letters together to form words, although he occasionally surprises me by spelling out "ziti" or "wain" or "pub". While we play, we say the words out loud, and I let him take all the time he needs and only help him if he asks (he does this by saying 'help' and showing me his letters).

Scrabble (or "Scrabbles" as Bob says) takes a long time and our games are no longer quite so ruthless. But I really think it is helping. I noticed a big improvement when we played on Sunday, and this week, an overall improvement in his speaking.

Still, a long way to go.

And on the side, my computer is giving me trouble (the screen going wonky and everything suddenly shuts down, yikes.) I hope this old Mac is not on its last legs because we don't have the resources to fix it or buy new..... If I disappear from this blog, you'll know why....

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