Lost, Then Found SLP Caroline DeKrey saw firsthand that sometimes it takes the right moment for a client to turn the corner and generalize learned skills. First Person/Last Page
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First Person/Last Page  |   May 01, 2014
Lost, Then Found
Author Notes
  • Caroline A. DeKrey, MA, CCC-SLP, is a clinician at Southview Acres Health Care Center in West St. Paul, Minn. ■caroline.dekrey@gmail.com
    Caroline A. DeKrey, MA, CCC-SLP, is a clinician at Southview Acres Health Care Center in West St. Paul, Minn. ■caroline.dekrey@gmail.com×
Article Information
Augmentative & Alternative Communication / First Person/Last Page
First Person/Last Page   |   May 01, 2014
Lost, Then Found
The ASHA Leader, May 2014, Vol. 19, 80. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.19052014.80
The ASHA Leader, May 2014, Vol. 19, 80. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.19052014.80
I was dreading my Friday afternoon field trip away from Southview Acres Health Care Center. My patient had already lost so much, and now she was losing her apartment, too.
“Mary” came to our transitional care center with a diagnosis of severe expressive and mild receptive aphasia following a major cerebrovascular accident. She would soon be leaving Southview Acres, as she required 24-hour care. Mary needed to sort her belongings at her senior living apartment in preparation for her move to an assisted living facility. I was asked to accompany Mary to help her communicate.
During Mary’s two-month stay at Southview Acres, I worked to obtain an augmentative and alternative communication device to help her expand her expressive communication. She told me she liked her AAC, but I could tell it frustrated her. Mary had so much to say, and the words she searched for were not always on the device. Truthfully, our treatment sessions frustrated me, too. She demonstrated competence using the device with me, but rarely used it with other patients or staff.
Holding the device under my arm, I entered the senior apartment lobby, where Mary was waiting. She knew she was here to pare down her belongings and appeared sad. The receptionist led us to the elevator to escort us upstairs. On our way, Mary grabbed her AAC and began selecting various icons with her attention directed toward the receptionist. “I used to work at Super Target,” she stated, using her device. “I also used to work at Ghirardelli’s in San Francisco.” The receptionist smiled and laughed, “That’s wonderful!” A small, satisfied smile appeared briefly on Mary’s face.
Sorting out Mary’s belongings went much more smoothly than I anticipated. We were soon back in the lobby, waiting for Mary’s ride. A group of Mary’s friends approached her while she was waiting. She navigated to her photos on her device and showed them pictures of famous landmarks from various trips she had taken. “I went on a trip to the Grand Canyon. I drove my Ford. I took my dog Skippy with me.” Mary smiled proudly as her friends conversed with her about her travels. She used her AAC to communicate with the friends she would soon be leaving behind.
As we left her apartment, my heart was full of bittersweet pride and satisfaction. I had a sense of accomplishment after many exasperating weeks of working with Mary. In that moment, I felt a renewed passion for my work. Mary finally demonstrated she was able to use the AAC outside of our structured treatment sessions to share meaningful information. Yes, Mary had lost so much ... but with her AAC, she had also regained a piece of herself.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
May 2014
Volume 19, Issue 5