Neuro Café 20th April 2022 by Linda S
We were joined by Rosemary from Dyscover, a charity providing long term support and opportunities for people with aphasia.
Dyscover: Who, why and how
Dyscover is led by speech and language therapists and has nine part-time staff. There are groups in Cranleigh and Kingston. Since Covid - 19, Zoom has become a new avenue for participation and staying connected. This has worked well for the charity and there are now four Zoom sessions a week.
Aphasia impacts people differently. Aphasia is a broad syndrome with different degrees of severity. It can be distressing when you cannot speak and express yourself or understand what is being said.
This is particularly difficult, when something traumatic has happened and you want to talk about it. The environment can have a big impact on your ability to get your message across. If you live alone the prospect of speaking to other people can be daunting. Even an activity like shopping can cause anxiety.
It helps to have a space where where people can participate, express themselves and share. Dyscover helps people to pick up activities and have a sense of purpose by inclusion in small groups. This gives opportunities for participation, taking the lead, engaging others, developing self-esteem and building confidence.
Dyscover encourages their members to be ambassadors. The aim is to stretch people to do things like hobbies, to volunteer and to sustain support and friendship, and practise conversation skills in small groups where they talk about various topics.
Rosemary described various recent activities. At Waterstones café they have helped educate staff on how to do things and spread awareness. Participants are encouraged to take part in a Challenge programme with activities such as golf and swimming, Neuro fit on Zoom, seated Pilates, Music, Art.
Dina and Neil, Ambassadors
Rosemary introduced Dyscover members Dina and Neil to help explain some aspects of aphasia from their own personal experience. Despite the challenges posed by their aphasia, they were happy to tell us their stories and confidently inspired us with how they have overcome many difficulties.
Dina used to be a nurse and teacher. Following a stroke 8 years ago, Dina had no language except 'no' and 'yes'. This was traumatic. Dyscover helped her recover with tips such as ‘go slowly’, ‘learn to be calm’, ‘pace yourself’ and her language abilities improved.
Following a stroke 9 years ago, Neil lost many aspects of his communication. Now he can speak, but still finds elements around speech difficult. Sometimes speaking is easy, sometimes it is hard. There are good and bad days.
Reading and writing has also affected. Neil finds it easier to us key words to convey meaning, rather than create a full sentence. Reading ability has largely returned, it feels 90%
Prior to his stroke Neil worked in TV doing special affects, which he has returned to on a part time basis working from home. He has developed a hobby and cycles using recumbent 3-wheelers in his local park. This is good where a conventional bike is not possible.
What an inspirational message!
Thanks to Dina and Neil for showing us their remarkable progress and their courage and determination in speaking about their experiences to a bunch of strangers!
Thank you to Rosemary for presenting such an insightful Neuro café.