Master's degree candidates in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders ran the weekly aphasia sessions.
Eight adults afflicted with language impairment sit in a room at the Hy Weinberg Center for Communication Disorders and identify music from TV shows of a bygone era: The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island and I Love Lucy. It’s a form of reminiscence therapy designed to test patients’ recognition and improve their speech and communication.
Similar exercises occur during one-hour sessions in the fall, spring and summer while the patients’ family members meet in another room to share experiences as part of Adelphi University’s decades-long effort to serve the community through aphasia group and family support services on the Garden City campus and Brooklyn’s Adelphi Academy campus.
“By coming to these meetings, we’ve learned that we’re not the only ones dealing with this,” said Tom Leibowitz of Glendale, New York, a support group member whose wife Barbara attends aphasia sessions. “We meet other people who are going through the same thing and exchange ideas.”
Student clinicians Karen Andersen, Jessica Milano, Alison Stogel and Linda Sulaiman, master’s degree candidates in the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, ran the weekly summer sessions in Garden City under the supervision of Bonnie Soman, M.S. ’75, Au.D. ’95. Dr. Soman was the department’s clinical director for 22 years before retiring in May. She’s now a clinical supervisor in the department.
The aphasia group has three goals, Dr. Soman said:
(1) Therapeutic—to improve the participants’ communication abilities.
(2) Support—to allow participants to share experiences.
(3) Social—to provide a relaxed and accepting venue to interact with others.
Individual therapy is also available in the aphasia program, which provides invaluable clinical experience for students.
“The program is very hands-on, and I like that,” said Sulaiman, an international student from Turkey. “It’s great to see the difference in the patients from the beginning of the program to the end—from being shy and withdrawn to being expressive. It shows how the therapy really makes a difference.
Sandy Slattery, an aphasia patient from Franklin Square, New York, echoes that sentiment. “I was scared when I first came here because I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “But this program has turned everything around for me.”
Slattery’s husband, Tom, who attends support group meetings, said, “We tell everybody about the Adelphi program because it’s been such a positive experience.”
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