No Training Wheels Devina Acharya enjoys bike-riding with her sons in their California neighborhood. The referral was from a friend and fellow speech-language pathologist and I didn’t hesitate to call the number. At the age of 36, I wanted to do what my 9- and 6-year-old boys could do. On Thanksgiving weekend, ... First Person on the Last Page
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First Person on the Last Page  |   June 01, 2011
No Training Wheels
Author Notes
  • Devina Acharya, MA, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist at Palomar Pomerado Health in San Diego County, Calif. Contact her at devina.acharya@pph.org.
    Devina Acharya, MA, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist at Palomar Pomerado Health in San Diego County, Calif. Contact her at devina.acharya@pph.org.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Apraxia of Speech & Childhood Apraxia of Speech / Fluency Disorders / Voice Disorders / Balance & Balance Disorders / Professional Issues & Training / Language Disorders / Aphasia / Speech, Voice & Prosody / First Person on the Last Page
First Person on the Last Page   |   June 01, 2011
No Training Wheels
The ASHA Leader, June 2011, Vol. 16, 31. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.16072011.31
The ASHA Leader, June 2011, Vol. 16, 31. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.16072011.31
Devina Acharya enjoys bike-riding with her sons in their California neighborhood.
The referral was from a friend and fellow speech-language pathologist and I didn’t hesitate to call the number. At the age of 36, I wanted to do what my 9- and 6-year-old boys could do. On Thanksgiving weekend, I took my first bike-riding lesson.
My instructor, Jim, met me at the park with a variety of teaching tools: a scooter, a pedal-free bike, and, of course, a helmet. We started with some warm-up balance tasks. We talked about my past experiences and my goals. His voice was soothing, his manner encouraging but direct. He made jokes when I got nervous and praised my small triumphs.
It felt so familiar. Of course I realized his teaching style was exactly what I use every day as an SLP. Treatment should be functional, patient-centered, taxing enough to challenge the patients while making them feel successful.
Wait a minute. If Jim was the clinician, what did that make me? The patient?! Not just any patient. I was the patient with apraxia and expressive aphasia, acutely aware of my deficits. The patient who started out full of confidence in potential recovery and then felt doubt creeping in. After my second lesson, I timidly asked Jim if any of his students had failed to learn. (He cheerfully assured me, “No.”)
Jim provided steady advice, such as, “If the bike leans to the right, shift your body weight to the same side so the bike is under you.” When I tried to repeat and internalize, he reminded me that if I had to think about these adjustments, it was too late. One day, I realized I was doing these things intuitively. When our patients achieve fluency, are they remembering our instructions for visualization, tongue placement, and breath support?
After four lessons, Jim said I was ready to practice in the schoolyard. Carryover was harder with my husband and neighbors watching. Nevertheless, I mastered a new skill every day: conquering a speed bump, making that tight U-turn, riding in the rain, being chased by a dog. Small milestones—like my patients making a phone call or ordering a meal in a restaurant.
Barely two months later, I’m doing five- to 10-mile rides with my family. I can’t compare this to the months of rehab my patients face, but now I can see the pride and gratification shared by instructor and student, clinician and client, in their mutual success.
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June 2011
Volume 16, Issue 7