Today’s empathy lesson

I just started working with a new client whose problems are mostly speech related.  I’m visiting him in his home and consulting with our speech therapist, who is trying to make a speech therapist out of me.  My job is an odd hodgepodge of psychotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, case management, and whatever else seems to make sense.  They call me a cognitive therapist, but there’s no real training for it.  So, I’m learning speech therapy pretty heavily at the moment and I’m visiting this guy and going over some basics — orientation and naming of objects.

  • What year is it? 
  • What month is it? 
  • What day is it?
  • What is this (show picture of an apple, watch, pencil, …)?
  • What do you do with this (apple, watch, pencil, …)?

Poor guy sometimes looks at me like I’m nuts and answers easily — this I love.  Other times, he shakes his head yes, but no words come, indicating “I know it, but the word is stuck in my head.”  Other times he shakes his head no, indicating “I have no clue, go on, woman!”  All the while I’m thinking, “holy cow, this seems remarkably like the Chinese lesson I’m going to have in an hour.”

Next stop, Chinese lesson and we have to talk about the days of the week and month and I’m about losing my mind, even though we’ve been going over this material for — uh, forever!!!  I’m thinking, oh my gosh THIS is what it’s like to have aphasia!  I’m wracking my poor little brain to figure this stuff out.  It shouldn’t be so hard.  I’ve heard and said these words hundreds of times, but somehow they still sound like… like… Chinese???

Well, I gave this dude some homework.  I guess I better do mine.  We’s got some language skills to be a’ workin’ on.


2 Responses

  1. Do you read For Better or Worse – the cartoon? I think that the grandfather suffers from Aphasia. You might find it interesting.

    Great comparison, though, I appreciate your empathy. I can only imagine – I took a few ChinaPodClasses & got discouraged. Chinese is tough. Good for you to keep with it! I’m very proud of you!!!

  2. What a great moment in understanding!

    You know, I got sooooo frustrated when I couldn’t match our adoption coordinator’s tones on Y.Y.’s name (she is Taiwanese). Lord, I know I’m going to struggle too when we finally start.

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