Neal referred himself to Speak With IT following a stroke three years ago. He has since been engaging with speech therapy apps over Zoom. After his stroke, Neal felt that he “didn’t know what the future held” as he spent three months in the hospital recovering. Neal received some speech therapy support from the NHS, but was keen to do more so began attending an Aphasia Café in where he met another SWIT client who suggested he get in touch with us.
In August, Neal was paired with his volunteer Georgia, a student of speech and language therapy at Leeds Beckett University. Like many of our clients, Neal did not initially feel confident using Zoom, but as Georgia notes Neal is now able to access the call quickly and entirely independently – “I haven’t seen family helping for a very long time”. Keeping regular appointments has helped the process become more familiar, as the pair meet weekly to review Neal’s progress with the speech therapy apps.
Neal’s commitment to practicing and dedication to working on his communication has also helped speed up his progress. Neal practices everyday and as a result is able to meet his own target that “every week he has to do a harder exercise”. At the moment, Neal and Georgia are working on numbers and listening, though Neal is already on the final level of his listening exercise and by his own admission “I can normally do quite well now.”
So what useful gains have been made for Neal through his work on speech therapy apps? As Neal says “there’s words I couldn’t say before but I can now, for example piano and violin… I can order my own medications on the phone now. I can say my own medications”. As well as this, Neal’s confidence in communicating has improved, as “people tell me the speech is probably better than I think it is because my confidence is getting better. I’m better at speaking to other people now.” And what has Neal enjoyed? In his own words it’s the simple opportunity of “talking to someone outside of the family… I’ve met some people. Some nice people. I’m looking forward to when we can all meet properly”. When I asked Georgia what she had enjoyed about supporting Neal she said “I was going to say the same – especially during lockdown! It’s been good to get to know Neal”.