by Abby Nichols
I didn’t know what to expect when I decided to volunteer at the Aphasia Initiative. I had never directly communicated with anyone who has had a stroke or brain injury, but I have learned so much about aphasia in my Speech and Hearing major. From the start, I was so blown away at the enthusiasm and love all the participants have coming to the group each day. The way they all greeted each other and accepted one another no matter age, gender, or communication difference was so incredible to see. Everyone’s attitude was so contagious to one another, and made me feel so happy to be there, too.
I learned so much about how aphasia is so different from person to person. It affects everyone differently emotionally and physically. I also learned so much about using different ways to communicate: like whiteboards, Alternative and Augmentative Communication Devices, and writing. Everyone that goes has adapted so much and showed me how I can adapt to communicate and in other aspects of my life, too.
The biggest pleasure I had with coming was getting to know a little bit about everyone as a person. From talking about getting numbers for the Vietnam War draft, learning about the love Ross has for thrifting, Andrew’s love for sports, God, and math, Mike’s past with guitar and football, Suzi’s beautiful children, or Everett owning a farm. I was able to learn all these things, and many more, through communicating in a different way, and that is what made it amazing!