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Simply Smart Aphasia Therapy (SSAT) is the label that we apply to the treatment methodology developed by Bill Connors, a methodology that he has used successfully in treating hundreds of aphasia patients. From the time several years ago when Bill began to formulate his approach to aphasia therapy and long before he labeled his approach SSAT, he was struck by a couple of thoughts. First, almost every aphasia patient with whom he came in contact and their caregivers were frustrated and stymied with a treatment approach that relied on imitation or cueing. Many had been directly told by the speech/language professional with whom they had worked that they had achieved the best level of communications recovery possible and there was nothing further that could be done. As is the case with many other speech/language professionals, Bill knew both intuitively and based on his years of clinical practice and research reading that this was wrong. He began to evolve a new approach founded on the notion that the best and longest lived aphasia recovery had to be rooted in either reconnecting or redirecting the pathways of propositional speech that had been interrupted by aphasia. Adults think in sentences and therefore need to speak in sentences – ergo, any successful approach to the treatment of aphasia had to be based on sentences and retraining those parts of the brain that seem to be the points of disconnect. Second, Bill believes that the best motivation is self-motivation, frequently encouraged and assisted by others. If the best possible motivation is self-motivation and the best approach to treating aphasia is reconnecting or redirecting the brain pathways of propositional speech, it was a logical conclusion to use his training and knowledge to get aphasia patients and their caregivers to help define their own unique aphasia communications problem. And this is exactly what happened. Bill found that although unschooled in brain functions and communications disorders, inevitably the aphasia patients and their caregivers were able with a high degree of reliability to define their communications disconnect. This in turn gave Bill wonderful direction in how to approach their individualized treatment. This insight led to the successful treatment of hundreds of patients and gave rise to SSAT. And that is why the concept of self-help is so critical an element of SSAT. It truly makes no difference whether the person who uses the www.aphasiatoolbox.com Self-Help Guide is a speech/language professional, a caregiver, or an aphasia patient who is able to follow the Guide. Our Self-Help Guide will assist you regardless of your level of knowledge or communications sophistication. Use it and, whether you are a www.aphasiatoolbox.com subscriber or not, you will get a greater understanding of the uniqueness of the aphasia disorder with which you are dealing.
Internet Based Aphasia Self-Help Therapy by Bill Connors
As I travel around the U.S. and Canada I hear a common issue, “How can I help my loved one continue to improve her speech and reading and writing. I was told that she reached a plateau but we refuse to give up. What can we do?”
With more than one million people in the US alone with residual aphasia and related communication problems most of whom are not receiving formal speech therapy, the need for creative solutions to that passionate question is at hand. Many of these people feel abandoned by the healthcare and rehabilitation systems. The people I have met and worked with are not quitters and challenge any verdict of “nothing more can be done.” They have an intuitive faith in the patient’s potential to heal and improve wanting only to find effective ways to accomplish this. They say, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, “Give us the tools and we will get the job done.” At www.aphasiatoolbox.com we offer a solution for this aphasia self help quandary. Considering the message from our quote of the month, our Self-Help Guide provides the right track and direction to move forward. It is a blueprint for self-help aphasia rehabilitation. During my recent presentation at the Ottawa 2007 Stroke Conference [http://www.strokesurvivors.ca/ ], I described eight key elements to an internet-based aphasia self-help therapy program:
Find and use effective, innovative tools, based on proven clinical evidence, that explain in simple terms what to do and how to do it.
Work during therapy from the patient’s memory and personal thoughts [normal, propositional speech] so that the process resembles real human communication whenever possible. In SSAT we rarely use imitation or excessive external cueing.
Travel the brain’s normal neural communication pathways in order to most efficiently and effectively reconnect those pathways for conversation.
Follow the 3Cs – coach [lots of rhythmic repetitions], concept [to maximize the patient’s progress, make sure that everyone involved understands what the activity is and why it is being done], conversation [use the new skills in everyday life and natural practice situations right away].
Do SMART work. Never waste valuable time doing busy, ill-advised work.
Address the patient’s cognitive skills that are the underpinnings for effective communication. These include verbal working memory; attention skills [focused, sustained, selective, alternating and divided]; mental flexibility; reasoning; problem solving and mental resource allocation. Visit speechpathology.com at this address http://www.speechpathology.com/askexpert/display_question.asp?question_id=243 for additional information about the importance of cognitive skills. Each of our treatment protocols at www.aphasiatoolbox.com contains a list of targeted mental processes for that activity.
Expect and be prepared for ongoing changes and progress. Each aphasiatoolbox.com therapy protocol includes vertical stepping [how to move to more difficult exercises] and horizontal tweaking [how to simplify or expand each exercise in manageable increments].
You can begin traveling the pathway of recovery. The following guidelines will help you to choose the most appropriate communication problem(s) to work on and how to get started. Remember, in the self-help videos available to aphasiatoolbox.com subscribers and in our Free Sample I personally demonstrate Simply Smart Aphasia techniques for you.
How to use this Self-Help Guide:.
Identify a problem - Identify below a problem that the patient has complained of, that you notice yourself, or that a speech/language pathologist or physician has identified. The problem may be with the patient’s speaking, listening, reading or writing.
Click on a protocol - Review the information provided on the protocol, print the protocol and any related practice materials.
Watch the videos- Videos are linked to the protocol to see how simple it can be to help the patient practice.
Do it, Give it a try - Begin working with the patient using these innovative and effective aphasia self-help activities. If you are not yet a subscriber, click on the Free Sample button on our home page.
Rest assured - You will never be alone in your efforts as practical and useful information, programs and protocols will be continually added to the website.
Use the more advanced activities - Once you have become comfortable with the basic activities, you may want to use the more advanced horizontal tweaking and vertical stepping to adjust to the patient’s progress, be sure to tailor activities to the individual patient, and to accommodate any trouble spots. We also scour the internet to find links for you that provide useful and productive additional practice.
Work with others in your community - Consider forming along with other aphasiatoolbox.com subscribers a self-help group or aphasia computer club in your community. Visit, on our products page, the Support Group & Computer Club category or contact us for more information.
Share your ideas and success - Share your ideas with others in our community on the Information Exchange, as we are all in this together.
Quote of the Month
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” Will Rogers, American Humorist. As those of you who have read our newsletters for some months now know, we like to choose quotes that emphasize enduring human qualities necessary to not just survive aphasia, but to prevail over it and move into a New Normal Level of Communication. We have touched upon hope, perseverance, choosing the right tool for the job, determination, and support. One theme that underlies all of these is the need to take action. Our quote selection this month touches upon this theme, but there is yet another theme that underlies the need to take action. Nothing will happen unless you take action yourself. This is the enduring theme of self-help. One of the critical elements that guided Bill Connors in his development of www.aphasiatoolbox.com is the notion that caregivers, aphasia patients, and professional speech/language pathologists needed a treatment methodology that would be understandable and easy to use so that they could help themselves. So don’t just sit there – take action to help yourself. Whether you are a speech and language professional, a dedicated caregiver, or an aphasia patient who isn’t satisfied with your recovery communications level, there is something on our website that will help you to help yourself. Plateaus are nothing more than platforms for the next higher level of performance.
Tip of the Month
Use the Self-Help Guide on www.aphasiatoolbox.com to help determine the best focused selection of protocols and matching materials for your need. We provide our Self-Help Guide through a link right on our www.aphasiatoolbox.com Home page. Our Self-Help Guide is your starting point and is readily accessible to non-subscribers as well as subscribers. We did that for a reason. Sure, we would love to have your business as a monthly or annual subscriber and we have priced our product to make it very affordable. But even if you decide not to subscribe, we want to help you or at least get you thinking along the lines of working daily using smart tools toreconnect the brain’s normal communication pathways that are interrupted by aphasia. Whether you are an aphasia patient who is impatient with your current level of recovery, a concerned caregiver who is hurting and frustrated with your care receiver’s lack of progress in recovery, or a dedicated speech/language professional looking for another way to assist your patients, you will find that our Self-Help Guide is a wonderful tool for focusing your analysis of the specific communications problem and deciding on a treatment approach.
Bill Connors' Scheduled Public Events
Wednesday, 09/05/07: Bill will be in Philadelphia, PA doing private therapy and will be available for telephone calls and appointments. Friday, 09/14/07: Bill will be in Fairfax, VA for meetings and will be available for telephone calls and appointments. Wednesday, 09/19/07: Bill will be in Wheeling, WV for meetings and will be available for telephone calls and appointments. Wednesday, 09/26/07: Bill will be in Cambridge, OH for meetings and will be available for telephone calls and appointments.
We Want To Hear From You
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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. If your support group has an on-line newsletter and you would like us to publish your url address, send us the information at email@example.com. If you know of someone who would like to receive our newsletter, you or they can send us the correct contact information with the word “subscribe” to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2005-2007 Aphasia Center of Innovative Treatment, Inc.
The National Aphasia AssociationAs you know, technology surrounds us and changes by the second. There are many people with aphasia, caregivers and professionals who now rely on communicating via the internet. Below is a listing of aphasia blogs, online support groups and therapy programs.