The Aphasia Initiative: One Big Family

By Paige Mobley

The members of this group have acquired neurogenic disorders as a result of, TBI or stroke,which affects their speech, language, motor functions, and limbs. The staff is composed of two phenomenal speech pathologists, Jen Brello and Arin Sheeler, along with both undergrad and graduate students. This is my 2nd year volunteering as an undergraduate student and this has been an educational blessing of an opportunity for me as a student. I absolutely love it!

Each session I learn something new from our members or about our members and being apart of this group has really opened my eyes. It has broken a lot of stigmas for me as well. When I first started volunteering, I was very intimidated, but overtime I’ve come to know these people and their families. I no longer see them as being disabled or in need of being fixed, but rather as strong and very intelligent people with greatly diverse personalities. Some of the main takeaways from this group are that aphasia, whether it be from a stroke or TBI, doesn’t look the same throughout all affected. It can affect anyone no matter your age, gender, race, ethnicity, size, etc. In addition, these people are not disabled like one may think. They do outstanding artwork, go to sporting events, go to concerts, cook, sew, have jobs, compete in athletic events, and so much more.

It’s phenomenal how the brain works and how these members have learned to use different low tech and high tech adaptations to overcome their daily challenges. Each one of them has a different story and background, but they have made one big family as the OSU Aphasia Initiative. It’s truly inspiring and I’ve never experienced an environment like it. I am so proud of the progress we’ve made as a program in expanding the amount of members we have and bringing more awareness of aphasia to the community by educating health professionals, community members, students, professors, and more. As I graduate, I will truly miss being apart of this so-called family and starting my day, once a week, with their smiling faces. Overall, the Aphasia Initiative has affirmed I am in the place I’m supposed to be as a future speech-language pathologist.

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