Toward the end of Bob's Speech Therapy, when it became apparent to me that the therapist was giving up, I began to hunt around for new and different speech therapy techniques. Unfortunately, there's not much free information out there. I did run across the mention of "Constraint Induced Therapy" for aphasia, but that invariably led to me a website to "buy our computer program" or "enroll in our clinic", both of those options being too expensive for us. I had heard of Constraint Induced Therapy for arm/hand paralysis, and that the therapy involves securing or tying back the unaffected arm/hand so that the participant is then forced to use the affected arm/hand instead. But how is this done with aphasia? When there's nothing to tie back or secure???
I continued searching for this therapy and finally landed on the results from a research study group for Constraint Induced Aphasia Therapy. In that study, the participants played the card game "Go Fish" and as they played this game, gestures such as pointing, etc., were "outlawed" and the participants were thus "forced" to speak. And I thought, well, Bob and I can do that. We can play "Go Fish."
But alas, I had never played Go Fish before--did I have a deprived childhood, or what? ha! I managed to find a deck of Go Fish cards at the pharmacy for $2.50 and snatched it up. Fortunately, it had directions.
We've been playing Go Fish since about May, when the Speech Therapist was giving up on Bob and she was starting to "teach" him gestures (which was idiotic, I mean, he's aphasic not retarded) and wanted me to put together that Clip Art Notebook so that Bob could point to pictures instead of saying words (I hate to say, but I never did do that. It just didn't seem the right thing to do.)
In case you (like me) never played Go Fish or have forgotten how it's done, the game is pretty simple. The deck I bought is geared for children, so it has pictures of animals on it. Each player gets dealt five cards and the rest of cards are put in the "Go Fish" pile. Then we turns, asking each other, for example, "Do you have an elephant?" And if the other player has an elephant, they must give it up. If they don't have an elephant, the other player tells you to "go fish" which means take a card for the pile. The object of the game is get as many matching pairs as possible. The one with the most pairs wins.
While we play Go Fish, I really force Bob to speak, to say the phrase "do you have a...?" He does have a big problem with names of things, so I show him my card while asking him, otherwise if I just asked him for an elephant, he'd probably hand me a Lion card, instead. So I let him see the card, so that he can make the connection. When it's his turn, I give him time to try to figure out the name of the animal, only helping when he gets really stuck, and then usually if I give him the first sound in the word (example: "el" for "elephant") he can figure it out.
So where is all this leading? Yesterday, when we played Go Fish, Bob really shocked me. Usually when we play, and it's my turn and I ask him for a card and he doesn't have it, he says "no" and I have to coax him into saying "go fish". Yesterday, he responded "No, I do not. Go Fish!" And he did this pretty much consistently throughout our game.
"No, I do not. Go Fish!"
Oh, I do hate to sound like a broken record, but every time he comes up with a complete sentence and/or new words, I am just leaping for joy! So forgive me.
Also, yesterday, Bob hit a new record on the rail: 26 times. But, more exciting for me was that afterwards, he said, "Geez. I'm worn out."
And to think Bob is having this "breakthrough" now, just one week shy of his one year stroke anniversary. And to think, Speech Therapy gave up on him back in June.