Art & Aphasia: In Isolation
by Firle Beckley, speech and language therapist
We’ve all experienced isolation recently in ways we never imagined – a lack of face-to-face contact, the loss of our normal routine, navigating the conventions of a successful video conversation with dodgy wi-fi connection – alongside a sense of potential looming personal disaster. This time, more than any other, may have given us all some insight into what it is like to live with aphasia.
Imagine waking up to find yourself in hospital. Now try asking people around you what is going on and realising no one understands you and you don’t understand them. Aphasia is a loss of language after a stroke, effecting reading, speaking, understanding and writing. One third of people who have a stroke experience this communication disorder. It can make conversation and relationships very difficult. As a speech and language therapist, living through lock-down has given me a greater insight into how very isolating and distressing a loss of routine and loss of daily connection with others can be.
This is why it is so vital that the University College London (UCL) Innovation and Enterprise funded ‘Art & Aphasia’ project is happening now. The project aims to develop UCL’s Better Conversations with Aphasia conversation therapy, shifting from a traditional sickness and cure model of stroke healthcare, into a creative wellbeing project embedded in an arts and culture setting. Working with De La Warr Pavilion and the charity SayAphasia, we aim to help people with aphasia and their friends and family members develop helpful communication strategies and creative skills.
Although our work has been disrupted by the pandemic, we will resume our open call to appoint an inspiring artist to the team over the summer and begin to deliver six week courses later this year and in early 2021. For a sense of who the project team are and how we have been managing during lock-down, please watch the video on DLWP’s You Tube Channel here
Please follow our blogposts for further updates. For any speech therapists wanting tips on remote communication partner training please take a look here
Posted by sally on Thursday 4 June 2020