I had a stroke in 2009 and was diagnosed with aphasia, which made it difficult for me to find my words, read and write. It took me a long time to re-learn names of everyday objects, places, and people I knew. I used to have a communication book provided by a Speech Pathologist from the hospital where I stayed initially. I reached for help from people, but they didn’t know anything about aphasia so they couldn’t help much.
My involvement with CAYA started in 2011 when I received a device called Vantage Lite to support my communication. In 2018, I was reassessed by Speech-Language Pathologist Lucy Grant, who recommended an iPad with a communication app called TouchChat. Lucy and Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Tatjana helped me to organize the vocabulary and messages needed for my day to day life.
I am still having trouble with finding words, but with the TouchChat app on the iPad, it is quick to find the name of a person or place I am referring to in conversation, create a grocery list, or make an appointment. It helps me with making plans with my family and friends. I also have a message that provides helpful information to my communication partners about my language difficulty and all the strategies I use to communicate.
I have emergency messages in the app so that I can ask for help. I use medical pages with my family doctor or other medical professionals to let them know about my medical history, medications, and any problems I’m having. It is quite challenging to carry a conversation when you cannot recall the names of everyday objects, people, or places. It takes me a lot of time and effort to explain something without the iPad.
With the iPad, I can also tell people about myself and my life before I had a stroke, including information about my family, my previous jobs, hobbies, and interests. I can share my story with stroke survivors and other people on how AAC helps my communication. I can help people in public transit by directing them where they need to go. It’s easier for me to have conversations with people because they can understand me better, and I have a way to find what I want to say.