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I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but I had already created my plan and my Code of Life, so the depression was simply "yesterday", and I was sitting in my home office. I was using the computer and I decided to send a letter. For a long time I would ask someone to write letters for me, but this time I wanted to try. I wanted to be able to write alone, by myself. I had to. I had the program and I knew how to use the Thesaurus and the Spelling and Grammar system. I opened my Microsoft Word and started…

I was not going to be stuck in my own mind, and I was not going to be a "stranger in a strange land". It was unacceptable. I had written all of my life and I had always been good at it. I had to write. There was something that I wanted to say, so I started. I had started before, of course, but most of the time I just shutdown the computer and did something else, but not this time. I started "Dear Mr. Gates…"

The first sentence was, well, not very good. I looked at and I realized I can't write anymore. There were words that I couldn't find. I read it again, but this time I used the "Spelling and Grammar" and found the right words and wrote it again. Looked at and did it again...and again, and eventually I could read it and I made sense. It took hours to finish the first three or four paragraphs, using the Word system, and found other words that looked better, or made more sense. I keep working and not only did I finish the letter...I had fun!

When I looked at the clock it said "3:00 AM"! I had spent more than six-hours and I the letter was no longer critical, but the process was. The letter was secondary now...I had created a letter and it looked great (everything is always relative, of course). The most important part was that the original few sentences, where I could not find the right words now were easy. The words that had been "gone" were back. I did not have to search for these words anymore...I now "owned" them. They were mine! Why did it take so long to figure out that I can do that anytime? I can relearn anytime I want to, and I can do that by myself.

We know that teachers, in school, give a word to children, put the word on the blackboard, have them write it several times, say it over and over and eventually they will be able to remember it...forever. This is the way it works, and it has always the way its been. I think there is no other way to do it. It is different for adults: we have already learned all of those words, so it's easier and faster. There are a few programs that try to do the same thing, but these programs (typically, not non-profit by the way) give us a few words, nouns, numbers, etc. and we should just "learn" what they tell us. I can use my money to do other things...I do not need a paid program to do something that I can do myself, using my computer and Word.

Aphasia had been around for along time, before the scientists or doctors had a name for it. Today they can tell us why it happened, and today the therapists can work with people using the quarters and dimes, names and numbers but...it is limited. The resources are limited typically because of the economics. A "new" afflicted person will usually have  few hours weekly with a therapist for perhaps a month or two, but then you are "on your own", but even if a therapist could be there eight-hours, five days for a year it would never do what a computer can! I believe it. I did it! Others can do the same thing.

If we know that this is a journey we do not need to rush. If it's only one or two words everyday this is progress. Aphasia is not just one part of the brain, it must be using the whole communication system. We must be able to hear the word, see the word, write the word and then say it again. Our conduits are different now, and those words are still there, but the path must be changed. To relearn only means find a new pathway to use the words. So many afflicted people just grab a different word when they can't find the word they need, and yes, that will work but, unfortunately, this will not help to fix our communication system overtime. When we talk to others this works fine, for replacing one word for a another, but to use the computer we should find the right word, look at it, write it and make it "ours". Too many people and too many therapists go the easy way: just find a different word, but with the computer we can do that right. Unfortunately, I believe many therapists have not stayed-up with the technology for those that have aphasia. What a shame.

Please remember that I'm not complaining about the therapists...exactly. If there were more of them, got paid the way it should be and had the time to research newer technologies and, of course, using computers the way they should, I believe they could upgrade their abilities. Think about it...salaries from $25,000 to perhaps $42,000 annually. These are the same people that should be able to help others to have a good life. Incredible!

Could it be better? You bet! Upgrade salaries...give them time to research and give them the tools to help people. A whole day, weekly, looking at a computer monitor and learn and...slow down the process. A therapist website for all of them, so they can talk to each other therapists. These are good people and they want to help, but there is simply not enough of them and not enough money to do it right. This is not just "aphasia" or just a communicate problem...it's someone's life.


Before I forget...next is the letter that I wanted to send to Mr. Gates. I never did send it, but it's online now so you never know!

Dear Mr. Gates...next

This is our aphasia mascot
He needs a name.

The Speech Language Pathologist is not the same as a Therapist

The pathologist works collaboratively with other rehabilitation and medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, social workers, employers and teachers, as well as families to provide a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan.
A Speech Therapist is a specialist with training in the diagnosis and treatment of speech, voice and language disorders, works with people that unable to make speech sounds or cannot make it clearly.

In 2004, there were about 75,000 in the profession,  with the average starting salary being $25,000 and $42,000 after 10-15 years.

In America, those in the profession averages about $35-38,000 annually, and a good bartender can do the same thing.

By the way, I do like the bartenders but, this is my life! Upgrade the salaries to therapists!