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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Newsletter Vol. 7 March/April 2007
Newsletter Vol. 7 
March/April 2007
Tip of the Month
Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.  Simplistic, homespun advice, but very profound.  Regardless of our position in life, each of us has to figure out each and every day what we need to do to accomplish our goals – and then we have to do it!  The thinking and the figuring is only the first step.  After that is done, we have to take action if we are ever to accomplish anything both for ourselves and others.  This is especially true when overcoming a disability such as aphasia.  And we have to take action each and every day. 

Sometimes it is hard to push forward a little bit each day.  Sometimes our perceived lack of progress gets us down and we want a break from the unrelenting difficulties faced on the pathway of aphasia recovery.  It is hard on the aphasia patient and it is hard on the caregiver.  Sometimes it is OK to give yourself a little break just to review progress to date – and smart therapy applied daily means there should always be progress to reflect on– and take a breath.  But it always comes back to doing what ya gotta do as patient or caregiver using smart therapy tools to achieve your New Normal Level of Communication.
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Description of Simply Smart Aphasia Therapy (SSAT)
Those of you who have been receiving and reading our newsletters for some time now know how important daily action is.  Whether your role is as aphasia patient or caregiver, you must take some action that day to help yourself or your care receiver.  Simply Smart Aphasia Therapy provides the direction and the tools to make this easier.

For example, we have formatted our protocols, which are your self-help exercise guidelines, for ease of understanding and ease of use.  Think of our protocols as your self-help directions.  The SSAT materials that support the protocols are likewise designed to be easy to understand and use.  Finally, we provide videos that demonstrate how to use each protocol and accompanying materials.  Although there are volumes of evidence-based research and years of clinical experience that went into the making of SSAT, in the end we have developed SSAT to remove the mystery from aphasia therapy and make it accessible and easy to use.  Simply Smart Aphasia Therapy has been successful for patients in both acute and chronic stages of recovery.  It is not hard to understand what needs to be done to help the aphasia patient reach their New Normal Level of Communication.  If you use Simply Smart Aphasia Therapy, it is not hard to understand how to help the aphasia patient achieve this goal.  The hard part is doing “what ya gotta do” each day in a consistent, disciplined manner.  But if you are determined as both aphasia patient and caregiver to get to the aphasia patient’s New Normal Level of Communication and improve their quality of life, SSAT will help you do it.  You are responsible for your own progress – no one else is.
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Free SSAT Treatment Protocol Sample (will be available at
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This protocol description is part of the Simply Smart Aphasia Therapy program.

To learn how to make optimal use of any protocol, visit

This month’s protocol uses anagrams (scrambled words) to work on not only improving spelling but also to use knowledge of letters to strengthen speech sound production (aphasiaphonics).  Additionally, by working from a patient’s memory, we address improving verbal working memory.  By using less common examples in a semantic category (such as ‘kiwi’ in a bird category), we take advantage of complexity training which evidence-based clinical research has shown to be effective in speeding up both word recall treatment effects and sentence production.   In other words, you can get better, faster.  (American Journal of Speech-Langauge Pathology, Vol. 16: 3-5. 6-17. 18-29. 30-42. February 2007, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association).  Remember to use both common (robin for bird category) and less common (penguin) examples.  Another way to expand anagram practice is to play games such as hangman. is one website that offers a free hangman game.

Another important feature of this month’s protocol is our new format.  The first page is the basic, very easy, self-help instructions.  Page two offers more advanced  therapy ideas.  Let us know how you feel about the new format by emailing us at 

Protocol – Self-help exercise guidelines: Spelling Random Anagrams Given the Semantic Category

Use the Spelling Random Anagrams Given the Semantic Category practice materials and basic demonstration video with this protocol.  An anagram is a scrambled word.  Semantics refers to the meaning of the word.

Easy Step-By-Step Directions:

  1. Place 3 letter tiles (such as those used in a Scrabble Game) not in correct spelling order, on the table in front of the patient and say ‘This is a body part.’ ( G L E )
  1. Ask the patient to ‘Rearrange the letters to form a body part.’ ( L E G)
  1. Ask the patient to ‘Spell the letters aloud.’ (‘LEG’)
  1. Ask  the patient to ‘Say the word aloud’  (leg)
  1. Repeat 1-4 for the next word using the same category,  
ü      How to make this activity a little easier:  Identify the first letter for the patient; ‘Here is the L.’  It is the first letter.  Now you put the rest in correct order to form a word.’ (L E G)

ü      How to make this activity a little harder: Advance to presenting 4 tiles representing 4 letter body part words.  (B O N E)

ü      How to expand this activity:  Ask the patient to ‘Write the word from memory (cover the letters).  ( LEG )

ü      How to get extra practice for this activity:  Use the 3-letter word list on our Aphasia Sight Reader Software Program.

Horizontal Tweaking and Vertical Stepping are simply more advanced ways to expand the basic activities or to make them easier or harder.   Effective use of the basic procedures above and the advanced ideas below will grow the activities as the patient makes progress and will preclude any patient plateau in progress.
Horizontal Tweaking for this protocol – exercise activity:   Use attention training techniques (remember last word and write it); use word in a sentence; use words as stimuli in flash sight reading activity’ use attention training techniques (‘Was this a word you wrote?) and patient answers from memory or printed stimulus selection); vary category (body parts; fruits; sports)’ ; help the patient put the word in a written or spoken sentence; keep the tiles completed in a row and have the patient practice saying and spelling them in a cumulative fashion.

Vertical Stepping for this protocol – exercise activity:  Use words of longer length (4, 5, 6 letters, etc); use words of varying length; use words that follow a rule spelling rules (such as words that end in  _ _ _ E)’  ; use words of lower frequency (frequency effect)or imageability (imageability effect);  use words representing less concreteness; vary phonological or orthographic length (length effect).

Behavioral Objective for this protocol – exercise activity:  Given a semantic category of which it is an exemplar, the patient will rearrange 3 scrambled letter tiles to form the target word, spell the word aloud, and then say the word aloud and finally write the word from memory while simultaneously spelling it aloud.

Targeted Mental Processes for this protocol – exercise activity:  Phonics; aphasiaphonics; grapheme to phoneme conversion; lexeme activation; lexical to semantic area interaction; reading; grapheme activation; visual tracking and focus; task focus to task shift; verbal working memory.

This protocol is part of the Simply Smart Aphasia Therapy program.

To learn how to make optimal use of this protocol, visit   

Copyright © 2005-2007 William A. Connors, M.A., C.C.C. 
All rights reserved.
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Quote of the Month
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“Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.”  Sylvester Stallone as Rocky in his movie, “Rocky I.” In the movie “Rocky I,” Stallone is driven to regain his edge as a boxer and fight for the championship.  His pursuit of his goal was single-minded.  Everything he did, he did to achieve his goal of being the champion.  This drive to take action every day with single-minded determination is what it takes to overcome aphasia.  This is how you help yourself achieve a New Normal Level of Communication.

Will you dare to do what “ya gotta do” in order to become an aphasia plateau buster?

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At the Aphasia Center of Innovative Treatment, we continue to make progress in the design and development of our website,  We are at the stage where we are actively loading protocols, materials, and videos.  We are also finalizing the administrative backend of our website so that, hopefully, all on-line and behind-the-scenes procedures will work flawlessly.  Stay tuned.
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Bill Connors' Scheduled Public Events
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Thursday, 4/5/07: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.  Panera Bread, McKnight Road across from Ross Park Mall, Pittsburgh PA.  The Pittsburgh Aphasia Information Technology Club will hold its second meeting.  Email to confirm attendance. 

Thursday, 4/5/07: 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.  Panera Bread, McKnight Road across from Ross Park Mall, Pittsburgh PA.  The monthly meeting of the Aphasia Support Group of Western PA will be held with a focus on how to accomplish effective self-help strategies; planning for the next Pittsburgh Aphasia Information Technology Club meeting and sharing ideas for continued physical strength & coordination improvement.
Email to confirm attendance. 

Friday and Saturday 4/6/07  and 4/7/07: Dallas, Texas.  Bill will be available by appointment to meet with area Support Groups or to discuss how to start a Self-Help Group.

Friday and Saturday, 4/13/07 and 4/14/07  Bill has scheduled patient therapy appointments in Philadelphia, PA and will be available by appointment to meet with area Support Groups or to discuss how to start a Self-Help Group.

August 17 and 18, 2007:  Bill will present at The Stroke Survivors Association of Ottawa’s 2nd Stroke Recovery Conference at the Hampton Inn Conference Center in
Ottawa (  The conference highlights best practice and management of stroke in the community by featuring talks by leading researchers and therapists as part of the ongoing effort to empower people with stroke and their families to manage better.
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We Want To Hear From You
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To nominate a support group for our “Support Group of the Month,” simply send us the name of the group, some background information, and contact information to:

We select a Patient of the Month from among the members of our Support Group of the Month.  To nominate a Patient of the Month, simply send the information to:

If you know of someone who would like to receive our newsletter, you or they can subscribe by visiting 

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Support Group of the Month
Deferred due to length of current newsletter.
Patient of the Month
Deferred due to length of current newsletter.
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Copyright 2005-2007 Aphasia Center of Innovative Treatment, Inc.
All rights reserved.
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© 2007 Aphasia Center of Innovative Treatment
Newsletter Vol. 7 March/April 2007SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

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