In week three of Aphasia Awareness Month, we'll look at a powerful tool in aphasia therapy: script training. The literature is full of support for the benefits of people with aphasia writing and learning scripts. These natural pieces of discourse should be written in conjunction with the person with aphasia, and contain dialogue that sounds natural and can be used frequently. Rehearsing the script over and over until it becomes automatic can help with social interaction, confidence, and participation. Scripts can be monologues or dialogues to initiate a topic or respond to frequent questions. The number and length of conversational turns as well as the content should be fully customized to the needs and abilities of the person who will be using them.
Specialized computer software such as AphasiaScriptsTM and low-tech devices like talking photo albums have been used to help clients learn and rehearse their scripts. Some people with aphasia are able to read aloud, practicing scripts with just written words; others need audio or video to practice with in unison. There are a few solid options to train scripts on iDevices using apps.
SpeakinMotion's VASTtx Therapy Samples app offers a selection of common phrases and sentences ($9.99 iOS universal app) featuring a video of a speaking mouth with subtitles. There are a few generic scripts for ordering food, making phone calls, telling jokes, and singing songs within the app, as well as an example script of a woman giving her personal history. Customized script can be ordered through the website.
For do-it-yourselfers, Story Creator is a free universal iOS app that can be used for creating scripts. This app enables you to create books with text, photos, videos, or drawings on each page. By recording your own mouth movement video and separate audio, you can set up a script for a client that offers the added feature of highlighting each word as it is spoken. While recording your own mouth is a bit tricky, doing it yourself allows for easy editing of the script as therapy progresses.
One really nice feature of having a script saved on a client's iPhone is that it can be used anywhere with a discrete earbud headphone. Many people speak while looking at their phones, and now people with aphasia can do the same, receiving video and audio support as they appear to be speaking independently. Once the script is mastered, the supports can be faded to reveal a more confident communicator.