A Silent—But Eloquent—Statement SLP Linda Pauline Chatalian Wyatt helped a patient with aphasia turn a hand squeeze into a simple communication system. “You have a patient on the neuro floor,” the nurse informed me. “He needs an evaluation and may soon be moved to a rehab setting. See what you can do ... First Person on the Last Page
Free
First Person on the Last Page  |   June 01, 2011
A Silent—But Eloquent—Statement
Author Notes
  • Linda Pauline Chatalian Wyatt, MS, CCC-SLP, provides treatment in clinical and academic settings to people of all ages with communication disorders. She specializes in treating children with apraxia, autism, and stuttering in the Wachusett Regional School District in Jefferson, Mass. Contact her at linda_wyatt@wrsd.net.
    Linda Pauline Chatalian Wyatt, MS, CCC-SLP, provides treatment in clinical and academic settings to people of all ages with communication disorders. She specializes in treating children with apraxia, autism, and stuttering in the Wachusett Regional School District in Jefferson, Mass. Contact her at linda_wyatt@wrsd.net.×
Article Information
Special Populations / Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Aphasia / First Person on the Last Page
First Person on the Last Page   |   June 01, 2011
A Silent—But Eloquent—Statement
The ASHA Leader, June 2011, Vol. 16, 39. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.16062011.39
The ASHA Leader, June 2011, Vol. 16, 39. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.16062011.39
SLP Linda Pauline Chatalian Wyatt helped a patient with aphasia turn a hand squeeze into a simple communication system.
“You have a patient on the neuro floor,” the nurse informed me. “He needs an evaluation and may soon be moved to a rehab setting. See what you can do as soon as you can.” I immediately checked his chart. Not much information except his identifying details and diagnosis—“stroke.”
There he lay, nearly unresponsive to my entry. His eyes were empty. “Hello, Mr. Cantoni. I'm Linda. I'm here to help you with your speech.” A shadow of a soul emerged as I propped up his bed.
I knew my test booklets and forms would do me little good today. This time the patient's bed tray would serve as my evaluation prop.
He could not speak, yet his eyes had filled with communication. I sensed he comprehended at least some of my words.
His arms were immobile; pointing to objects was not an option for him. His eyes would be his fingers. I carefully aligned the spoon and cup horizontally, taking into consideration a possibly restricted visual field. The objects were spaced widely enough so I could observe definitive glances. “Look at the spoon.” He did. I upped the number of items to three at once. He continued to follow commands correctly.
Basic auditory comprehension was confirmed, but he was fatigued so we stopped.
I stood at the right side of his bed and lowered it. Saying good-bye, I placed my hand on his. It would prove to be the listener to his silent statement. He squeezed my hand.
I started driving home, but Mr. Cantoni's desperation had sat down beside me. How could I help him? Then, as if Alexander Graham Bell himself telephoned me, “He squeezed my hand! Could that be his yes/no signal?” my mind exclaimed.
I reversed direction at the next exit and accelerated. I couldn't let this man spend another moment as a prisoner of his aphasia. I rushed to his room and raised his bed again. “Hi, Mr. Cantoni. It's Linda.”
I grasped his right hand. “Squeeze my hand to tell me ‘no.'” I asked him some questions requiring “no.” Success. “Now squeeze my hand twice for ‘yes.'” Another short set of “yes” questions. Success. Next the decisive set—a random pattern of yes/no questions. “Are you John Cantoni?” Two squeezes. “Are you at home?” One squeeze. “Do you live in Northborough?” One squeeze. Consistent success. Silent statements, but signals loud as a megaphone.
I wrote and posted the communication protocol on his walls and in his chart.
“Do you want to lie down?” Two squeezes. I lowered his bed. “Good-bye, Mr. Cantoni.” I took his hand. Little did he know I was silently thanking him for teaching me. Our eyes welled and we smiled simultaneously.
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
June 2011
Volume 16, Issue 6