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Monday, September 26, 2011

Strictly Speaking

Awhile back, I started a new speech therapy technique with Bob which involves increasing the length and complexity of sentences. Bob has Broca's aphasia and his two biggest problem areas are not being able to form a complete complex sentence and not being able to find the right word, especially the names of things and people. He tends to speak using mostly single words though sometimes he can say a simple two or three word sentence, for example: "I love you". A lot of what he says still comes out garbled, but that, I think, is due to semi-paralysis of his tongue and throat and so we are also working on tongue exercises and throat/vocal exercises. Which means we spend a good amount of time sticking our tongues out at each other, making funny faces and singing--which is actually quite fun.

Increasing the length and complexity of sentences, though, is not fun. It's tedious work.

While Bob was going to "professional" speech therapy, the ST did not think it was a big deal that Bob could not speak in complete sentences. To her, it was only important that he get his message across with gestures or single words. So, for example, if Bob wanted me to the turn the radio up, if he could say "radio" or even just point to the radio and then say or gesture "up", and that was good enough for the ST.  Well, that's not good enough for me.

I suppose if Bob had been the "strong and silent" type, perhaps that would be good enough. But Bob was a chatterbox, a real talker, I mean, he made most of his money in sales and the last eight years at his old job, he was top salesman in the company. This is a guy who could sell ear enlargements to an elephant. He was so charming and witty and such a good conversationalist. I remember folks used to be shocked when they found out that Bob and I did not own a television set. What do you do at night? they would ask and when we said we "talked", they would look at us in disbelief because what on earth do you talk about after 16 years of marriage? Well, we did talk. About everything and anything. And lord, I certainly miss that.

But back to my new therapy technique which involves me saying a word and then Bob repeating it, then me saying a slightly longer derivative of the same word and him repeating it, then me using the word in a complete sentence and him (hopefully) repeating it. We do this for about 20 minutes a day, which is tedious, so I try to make it fun though that's not always possible. Here's an example:

Me: "miss"

Bob: "miss"

Me: "missing"

Bob: "missing"

Me: "The money is missing."

Bob: "Oh no!"

Me: "Repeat the sentence: The money is missing."

Bob: "Is missing."

Me: "Say the whole thing. The money is missing."

Bob: "Say the whole thing."

Me: "The"

Bob: "The"

Me: "money"

Bob: "money"

and so on. As I said, it is tedious, BUT, I do believe this therapy is working! Just this past week, Bob has come out and said, quite clearly, some very spontaneous and complete sentences. Here's some that I wrote down to share:

"Gee, you are mad."
"That show was good."
"Yes, I do understand."
"We did a lot today."
"We are moving on up."
"Why didn't you say so?"

and this one, just yesterday:

Bob: "Do you want to know my name?"

Me (surprised): "Sure."

Bob: "Bob. My name is Bob and you are... (long pause here)... not Bob."

OK, still work to do on names of people and things....


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful blog about your loving work with Bob. He is so lucky to have a wife that takes the time and does the extra work to help him improve his entire life style after his stroke. You and Bob are such an inspiration. I sincerely tip my hat to you both.
(Caring1) Dan

Jenn said...

Kudos and then some!
I do believe, "not Bob", you know what you're doing! :-)
Your guy is such a card! Lol

Linda said...

I think you guys are making great progress. You both are working so hard.

I read your blog out loud to my husband, Bob. Shortly after I asked him which one of us was going to do the lunch dishes.

His response.. "Not Bob!"

Apparently you and I now share the same name!


Nikki said...

Not Bob, lol! I love it when he says something that's unintentionally funny like that. It's great to read about all the progress he's making!

Sally said...

Thats great when he said Not Bob. Another laugh for the evening. You are doing a great job with him. Keep up the great job. Bob has come a long ways.