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Participating in Aphasia Support Groups

Barbara B. Shadden, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, BC-ANCDS

October 17, 2011

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Question

What are some of the reasons caregivers might resist participating in an aphasia support group?  

Answer

In my experience, most people who resist - apart from being men who may be generally reluctant to deal with emotions - resist because it brings to mind sort of an “Alcoholics Anonymous” experience.  They think they're going to have to discuss all of their personal issues and thoughts. It is the terminology that is the problem.  The term “support group” seems to do that to people.  I have battled with that particular challenge over the years. Sometimes I have just defaulted to, “Hey, do me a favor and come once and see what you think.”

There are other reasons, and some are very good ones.  One of my caregivers that I feel closest to and have spent the most time with has never come to the support group.  Partly it is because she gets to spend time with me already, and partly it is because she works so many hours that when she is home with her husband she doesn't want to go off to a support group.  She wants to spend her time with him there.  That is another reason. 

A reason that is relatively common is for either the person with aphasia or the caregiver being afraid of what the other is going to say.  That is where we come in.  If we explain more about the process, initially, than those fears are not as great.  There are many reasons but those are the ones that come to mind immediately.  

Barbara B. Shadden is a University Professor Emeritus in Communication Disorders and Co-Director of the Office for Studies on Aging at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Shadden has published and presented extensively on topics in aging, neurogenics, discourse, and augmentative communication, including five textbooks and editorship of five journal issues. 


barbara b shadden

Barbara B. Shadden, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, BC-ANCDS

Barbara B. Shadden is a University Professor Emeritus in Communication Disorders and Co-Director of the Office for Studies on Aging at the University of Arkansas. She joined the faculty at the U of A in 1979. Previously, she served as Clinical Services Coordinator at United Cerebral Palsy in Bridgeport, CT, Co-Coordinator of Neuropathology Services, University of Tennessee, and speech-language consultant to two hospitals in Fayetteville, AR. She is ANCDS Board Certified in Adult Neurologic Communication Disorders. Dr. Shadden received her Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee. She is an ASHA Fellow, has been active in ASHA Gerontology SID and accreditation initiatives, as well as past president of ArkSHA and the CAPCSD. Dr Shadden has published and presented extensively on topics in aging, neurogenics, discourse, and augmentative communication, including five textbooks and editorship of five journal issues. Most recent research and service interests focus on the health of seniors, on caregiver needs and issues, and on the impact of neurogenic communication disorders on sense of self or identity. 


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