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If you have questions about how  can help you and your aphasia and/or related disorders, please contact us or call  us at 724-494-2534.
Meet Gordon and Jill Viggiano 


Editor's Note:

Gordon Viggiano is  a current client of Bill Connors and Aphasiatoolbox. Here, Jill - Gordon's wife, describes how working with Bill has impacted their lives.   


To me, Bill has given us words to describe Gordon's language and cognition problems.  By working with Gordon, Bill has helped us more clearly define the challenges we face. Understanding the challenges gives us the opportunity to attack those challenges. 

The tools we use in therapy are interesting, fun, and enlightening as I see what stumps Gordon and what he finds easy. Before, we struggled to articulate Gordon's speech problems and therefore struggled to find ways to overcome them.  I believe our work with Bill will truly move Gordon forward in recovery rather than accommodate his speech and cognition problems.


Jill Viggiano


Gordon and Jill Viggiano is a couple who were on the fast track in life. Gordon was a successful sales executive, consultant and entrepreneur; Jill spent 19 years working in commercial real estate before retiring to become a full time mom.   All that changed when Gordon turned 51. On his 51st birthday, Gordon suffered a massive stroke with aphasia.   

Gordon is now 7 years post-stroke and he is happy to report that he is getting better all the time. He is certainly not fully recovered from his stroke so this isn't an "I did it and you can too" speech. Says Gordon: I am in the middle of my recovery and so my perspective is from "the trenches."


In his presentation "My Brain Has A Hole In It," he discusses this life changing experience and the lessons that have come along with it. his goal is to inspire people and help them see that good things can happen, even when one doesn't think it is possible.


Despite his aphasia, Gordon is an inspirational and motivational speaker;  You can book Gordon for speaking engagements; see his website: .


Gordon's wife, Jill, focused her skills and energy on his recovery and is now assisting him in his day-to-day needs as well as in his speaking career.  Jill's book - Painful Blessing: A Story of Loss, Recovery, Hope and Faith, is about her spouse and caregiver experience, shedding light on the real life impact of acquired brain injury, and providing hope and encouragement to those facing significant challenges.


Additional articles on Gordon and Jill are available.    


If you have questions about how  can help you and your aphasia , please contact us or call us at 724-494-2534.
Aphasia News and Events 


Editor's Note: 

Here are some selected events that can help further the independence for a person recovering from aphasia.  





The Aphasia Recovery Connection is in the process of planning its 2015  events including its  Retreat in Ohio in July 2015  and its Boot Camp in Las Vegas in October 2015.


The ARC Ohio Retreat in Columbus, Ohio will be held on July 28-30, 2015; registration begins on March 1. Contact ARC at for information on the Ohio Retreat or on the upcoming  2015  Boot Camp.


* Editor's Note: is offering three $100  stipends to defray the costs of attending the ARC Ohio Retreat for our clients.  



February 28, 2015, University of Maryland,  College Park

Register at: 

Adler Aphasia Center offers a Spanish Communication  Group, Union, NJ  


The Adler Aphasia Center is offering a free Spanish aphasia communication group in Union,  NJ.  The group meets on the second and fourth Monday of the month.

For more information and to pre-register, please contact   Wendy Greenspan, SLP at call at 973-530-3981.       
Quote of the Month 



"Replacing learned helplessness with focused cognitive attention and independently initiated action is crucial in maximizing aphasia recovery" - Bill Connors 
February 27,  2015
February 2015 - Independence in Aphasia Treatment and Recovery
This is Sharon Rennhack, the chief editor for the aphasiatoolbox newsletter.

This month we look at the topic of independence in aphasia treatment and recovery.

- In this month's feature article, I mention that we - therapists and coaches, work with our clients to develop independent practice - the opposite of learned helplessness.  We aim for normal or a new normal.


- In his video,   Master Clinician Bill Connor's discusses how people with aphasa can overcome learned helplessness leading to independence.  


And, in this edition,  we  introduce our new  Feature Columnist LC; she discusses her view of independence.


W e welcome your   calls and ideas.  Contact us at

Sharon Rennhack
Chief Editor 
FEATURE:  What is Independence in Aphasia Treatment and Recovery?


Editor's Note:  
Aphasia  - whether from a stroke, surgery or Traumatic  Brain Injury,  is  a blow to  a person's sense of independence. One moment you  are working, doing the things you love, and the next moment  you have difficulty communicating basic needs and feelings.  


One of the things that Aphasiatoolbox  therapists are  always  are on the lookout for is  what's known as learned helplessness,  which is defined as: 

the condition of a person who has learned to rely on others for help and will avoid taking steps to help him or herself, even though he/she may be capable of doing so. Often, after a stroke or brain injury, people may believe that they are not capable of doing things independently and therefore, rely on family or caregivers to do things for them.   

According to Master Clinician Bill Connors,  "replacing learned helplessness with focused cognitive attention and independently initiated action is crucial in maximizing aphasia recovery".   

At aphasiatoolbox,  we  work with our clients to develop independent practice, cognition and thought, reading and writing  - the opposite of learned helplessness.  We aim for NORMAL - what ever normal was before stroke, TBI and aphasia.  
We discussed some of these same concepts in our October 2014 newsletter on the 12 tenets of neuroplasticity. This is a link to  the videos and tenets of neuroplasticity  from our October 2014 newsletter. 

VIDEO:  Bill Connors on  Independence  


Editor's Note:  

In this month's  video, Master Clinician Bill Connors discusses what constitutes independence in aphasia treatment and recovery. He discusses  ways to overcome learned helplessness.   


Bill Connors discusses   
Bill Connors discusses "Overcoming Learned Helplessness".

For more information:  


If you have questions about how  can help you and your aphasia and apraxia, please contact us or call  us at 724-494-2534.  
Meet LC  

Editor's Note:  

Aphasiatoolbox client LC  is a young woman  who had a stroke with aphasia following a motor vehicle accident.   She is  joining the staff of our newsletter as a feature  columnist.  Here,  in her debut column,  she discusses independence on  her way to aphasia and apraxia recovery.   


Click here to read LC's first column.   


The Aphasia Center of Innovative Treatment, Inc | | |
800 Vinial Street, B408
Pittsburgh, PA 15212