The 3 M's in Aphasia Recovery   
Editor's Note - Sharon Rennhack:  
We hope you enjoyed your holidays!  We certainly did but we're now back to the important job of aphasia recovery!

In this month's edition,  we talk about motivation and goal setting in aphasia rehabilitation, treatment and recovery.   

In the United States, there are an estimated 2 million people with aphasia.  Our experience tells us that upwards of  60 - 75% of these individuals have given up on their dream of conversing or working again.  Does that describe you?

We at aphasiatoolbox® have the privilege of working with those who continue to aggressively pursue and achieve their goals.  

In this edition, we  talk specifically about  the  WHAT and HOW of our individualized aphasiatoolbox aphasia treatment program, including our online intensive program. In  these programs, we incorporate what we call the M triad -  motivation,   mindfulness and the  "me factor". 

- In the sections  below, we discuss  motivation (including goal setting): mindfulness; the Me factor.   
- In his video/ Tip of the Month, Bill Connors discusses the Me factor and the importance of persistence in aphasia recovery.     

For information  on how we can help your recovery using our aphasiatoolbox® program,  contact us at   OR click here  schedule a free consultation  and select a 30 minute phone call with our an aphasia recovery expert.
Aphasiatoolbox®: We are  Aphasia Recovery.
What is motivation?

Motivation  "is what drives you toward a goal, what keeps you going when things get tough, the reason you get up early to exercise or work late to finish a project." 1

To help understand what motivates a person with aphasia, aphasiatoolbox therapists ask these 3 questions of their new clients:

What are your goals and aspirations for recovery?
What are your strengths and resources right now?
What are the barriers we will deal with and overcome as you recover?

In other words, we help you identify and specify your goals and then build your program for recovery.  We  continually  grow and modify your  progress  with formative assessment, minute-by-minute, day-by-day paying,  attention  to what works best for you.


1. The Ultimate Guide to Motivation - How to Achieve Any Goal

2. Six ways to help you develop persistence
What is mindfulness? 

Mindfuness refers to "maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment." 1
The mental and emotional effects of aphasia becomes manifested physically in muscle tension; loss of attention ; struggle; and other  behaviors  detrimental  to recovery
Aphasiatoolbox therapists use mindfulness techniques to minimize or eliminate the effects of aphasia stress.   This puts your  brain in the best position to succeed.   
Julie Adams,  the founder of, discusses  "The ABC of mindfulness" 2: 

A is for awareness - Becoming more aware of what you are thinking and doing - whats going on in your mind and body.
B is for "just Being" with your experience.  Avoiding the tendency to respond on auto-pilot and feed problems by creating your own story.
C is for seeing things and responding more wisely.  By creating a gap between the experience and our reaction to, we can make wiser choices.

 Bill Connors  discusses the "Me" factor.

In this month's edition,  Bill Connors discusses  the importance of the  "Me"factor in aphasia recovery.

The "Me" factor is also known as self-efficacy.  Self-efficacy, an important aspect of motivation, is the belief or view that one has about his ability to achieve.

In this video - part of the January 2017 aphasiatoolbox newsletter,  Bill discusses the internal changes that he has  observed with his  clients  as they  become more self-aware.

Bill Connors discusses:   The
Bill Connors discusses: The "Me" Factor in Aphasia Recovery

Time:   03:31

"We didn't invent aphasia therapy, but we work diligently every day to perfect it."
iOS 10 and Implications for AAC

iOS 10, Apple's new operating system, includes many changes and additions that improve accessibility.  An overview can be found in our recent post .

We can take this new functionality a step further and use the iPad or iPhone as an option for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). For individuals that need AAC but can read and write, they can now use their iPhone or iPad as a simple AAC device without the need for expensive third party apps. Meaning, with the new operating system, with Typing Feedback settings turned on, anything the user types will be read aloud by the text-to-speech engine. The fact that this also works on an iPhone, makes the access to AAC more readily available.  The smaller device is easier to carry around and the smaller screen may be more accessible, from a motor perspective, to specific users.

So how do we use it?
To turn on the features head to Settings - Accessibility - Speech - Typing Feedback - Speak Words.  (You can also turn on options to hear each character as it is typed, to have auto-corrections spoken aloud, and to hear the word prediction options that are displayed over the keyboard).  Once the Speak Words option is selected, each time you type a word, in any app, and press the space bar or comma, the word will be spoken aloud.  It's as simple as that.

In addition, there are some other accessibility features that can be helpful for customization if the device is to be used as an AAC system:
  • Touch Accommodations (Settings - General - Accessibility - Touch Accommodations)
These features can improve the experience of using the keyboard for users with motor difficulties. Read more in our recent post, Not all Touches are Alike: Exploring the use of Touch Accommodations (iOS 9)
  • Speech (Settings - General - Accessibility - Speech)
In this section you can adjust features such as speaking rate, pronunciation of specified words, voice, and the manner in which the text is highlighted as it is read. This is also where you turn on Typing Feedback.

Often, when using the text-to-speech engine, words are read out loud with an incorrect pronunciation. This can occur when reading proper names, or homographs where words are spelled the same but have different pronunciations, such as lead (to lead) and lead (the metal), or with words whose origin is from another language. As an example, consider the name Sharon.  In English the stress is on the first syllable, SHA-ron.  In other languages, the stress is on the second syllable, sha-RON. For a user who wants this name read aloud with the stress on the second syllable, they can add it as a customized pronunciation in settings.  On the pronunciation screen you can identify words and record your preferred pronunciation. The device then offers options that you can listen to and pick from. You can also tell the device which apps you would like this pronunciation to be used for.


Breathing is not just for oxygen; it's now linked to brain function and behavior. Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall. (The study was published Dec. 6,2016  in the Journal of Neuroscience.)

2.  From Stroke to Strength
Steve Dimon was 63-years-old, weighed 275 pounds, had high blood pressure, type II diabetes and high cholesterol.  "I was a recipe for disaster," said the former athlete, show producer and one-time actor and model  who lives in the Hollywood Hills area near Los Angeles. His disaster came on April 22, 2012  when
Dimon experienced an ischemic stroke.
3. How to Notice, Shift, and Rewire Your Brain
A simple mindfulness strategy for mastering the habit of becoming more present to each moment and, as a result, experiencing greater focus, productivity, and life satisfaction.

4.   It's a Goal! Setting Patient-Centered Speech Therapy Goals for Aphasia Rehabilitation
Goals are the basis for all speech and language therapy treatment. Without a clear goal or plan, therapy can appear confusing and irrelevant, leading to a lack of motivation and disengagement1. Often however, the process of setting speech therapy goals for aphasia can be much harder than it first appears. 

5.  Pop-Outs: How the Brain Extracts Meaning From Noise
When you're suddenly able to understand someone despite their thick accent, or finally make out the lyrics of a song, your brain appears to be re-tuning to recognize speech that was previously incomprehensible.

6.  Researchers Discover Genetic Cause For Word-finding Disease
Northwestern University researchers have discovered a genetic cause of a mysterious neurological disease in which people have trouble recalling and using words. The illness, Primary Progressive Aphasia, differs from Alzheimer's Disease in which a person's memory becomes impaired. In PPA, which can begin in the 40's and 50's, people eventually lose the ability to express themselves and understand speech. Although people lose the ability to communicate, they are still able to perform complicated tasks.

7. Mindful Meditation Training Lowers Biomarkers of Stress Response in Anxiety Disorder
Summary: According to researchers, mindful meditation can reduce stress hormones and inflammatory responses to stressful situations in people with GAD.   Source: Georgetown University Medical Center. 
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