By Dana Wetmore
My favorite day of the week is Friday. I know that’s a slightly generic statement, but there’s more to it than just the beginning of the sweet, sweet weekend. Stroke support group happens at our school’s clinic on Fridays and I am never happier than when I get to work with such a great group of people.
Everyone comes in the clinic and sits around a long table. With canes and wheelchairs, some of the most courageous people I have ever met share stories of their strokes. I value their ability to be candid about such a life-changing event, but in spite of how compelling each story may seem to me, it is the source of daily struggle for each stroke client and their families.
Most people come in pairs, though some come alone. Typically sessions serve as a venting and coping activity, but after a somewhat somber gathering, our supervisor decided we would be playing games this past time.
We played a very therapy-worthy game of “Choose One,” much like the better known “Would You Rather.” We gave each person who attended a packet of questions, each with the two options listed as possible answers. Questions typically read, “Choose one fruit: apple or banana?” or “Choose one flavor of ice cream: chocolate or vanilla?” The visuals helped guide each member through the game, and it was fun to hear everyone’s opinions explaining their choices.
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Then we threw in a curveball and played the game in a style similar to newlyweds, in which the couples guessed their spouse’s answer. With the help of good communication partner strategies, the group didn’t stop laughing the entirety of the activity. The activity also encouraged conversational speech for aphasic clients at higher levels, but still invited the simplicity of repetition or gesturing for communication. The use of visual options like pictures, as well as written words also offered an array of guides to understand the question. “Choose One” also presented an opportunity for communication partner skills to be fine-tuned, while observing the techniques of other caretakers.
Overall, the activity was a success for many reasons pertaining to therapy. Sharing life events and getting to know one another was more of a reason to enjoy the activity, as everyone in the room experienced the human connection that is sometimes difficult to feel while facing aphasic symptoms. My hopes are to bring this activity to therapy as perhaps a baseline aspect, while getting to know my clients that much better!