Never in my wildest imaginings did I envisage being a beneficiary of Speech Pathology many years after doing a six-year stint as a Speech Pathologist myself! When our daughter, Ariana, was diagnosed with a bilateral frontal germinoma brain tumour just over a year ago at the age of 17, speech pathology came to the forefront again as being an essential part in Ariana’s rehabilitation program. Working with Jason, his students and the Brain Injury Community Team has been invaluable in exploring ways to tap into Ariana’s interests and work on achieving functional goals that will motivate her to move forward. A great example of this was bringing Ariana’s passion for running into therapy sessions through the analogy of a conversation to a relay race. Handing over the baton was a good way to encourage Ariana to take turns in conversations. Other individually tailored activities such as providing templates for Facebook communications with friends or helping Ariana order food in cafes, all contribute towards building up her skills in real contexts where she wants to communicate. Involving friends and family in therapy sessions or in Communication Partner workshops helps so much in developing a better understanding of why someone we love has difficulty connecting at times. People want to help but they need to be taught strategies to help unlock language and create more equal partnerships.
It’s a long road indeed but we get encouragement and joy as Ariana’s spirit shines through. This last year has been huge but it’s a matter of taking each day as it comes and continually exploring new opportunities. Our sincere thanks to Jason and the team at Royal Ryde Rehab!
I love to talk and I am happy to be able to say I love you to my mum and dad and friends. After discovering I had brain cancer, my communication skills dropped down and I had trouble getting my feelings out. It makes me feel angry and limited. Jason and Skye introduced me to a very useful app called Those Days. I can track what I’m doing for the day and I can look back at the photos and see what I did. It helps with my memory. I can record videos and see what I’m doing well and what I need to improve and best of all, I can use it to record dance sessions with my dance teacher!
Communication is so often taken for granted but when it is suddenly compromised through severe brain injury, it takes a lot of energy, expertise, patience and innovation to achieve the best possible outcomes. Speech pathologists have such a key role to play in being the drivers behind educating families and the community at large in ways of helping loved ones to maximize their communicative potential.