Improving the lives of people with aphasia and their families


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  • I am a 79 year old grandmother and I have Aphasia and Dyspraxia.
  • I was a teacher in science and mathematics before retiring. I kept up my reading and interest in all things and still enjoyed learning. I have always been active and played golf regularly.
  • We have three daughters and four grand daughters.
  • I had a stroke in November 2005 that robbed me of my words and language.
  • The stroke also severely affected the right side of my body.
  • My recovery has been hard work but with some success. I can now read, write and talk in a limited manner.

Getting fit was a priority as my balance and coordination was not good. So, with the help of my husband, Doug, we played petanque on our lawn, threw balls to each other and walked at least 4 kms on most days. On hot days we would swim instead of walking.

  • Learning words and then language has been guided by speech pathologist Bev Dodd.
    This has meant at least 6 hours each day of learning how to make sounds and then saying words. Then learning what those words meant and putting them into sentences.
    I have used many books from nursery rhymes to grammar books and my favourite, the Macquarie dictionary.
  • As many words do not sound as they are spelt I write the phonic symbols after many words to help me pronounce them.
  • To help me say words and short sentences Doug made videos of himself saying the words that I had chosen. I play these over and over and try to copy Doug’s voice.
  • I now use my computer to help me with a range things such as emails to keep in touch with family and friends. Using the telephone is still difficult. There are a number computer programs that help with speech and grammar.
  • To ensure that I was not isolated because of the aphasia I joined the Talkback group at Acacia Court . I also kept my involvement with Probus and the golf club. I had been an active member of Probus and had started reading and travel groups some years ago. I still attend these groups although I do not read the books in the reading group but they still include me in the discussions. Although I do not play golf any more I still attend the weekly Chi Kung exercise group at the golf club.

Being involved in all these groups has been hard as most people do not understand aphasia. So I have tried to inform them all by showing them a DVD Doug made for the Brisbane Aphasia conference.  Also Doug and I gave a talk to the Probus Club on what had happened to me.

  • Now as this is my eightieth year I felt that it was going to be a great year. It started off quite well then I had another stroke, this time on my right side of the brain. I was lucky that it occurred whilst I was sitting next to Doug and our daughter Gail. A quick ambulance trip to the QE Hospital, then fast treatment there with the stroke unit and I was home in 4 days.  The story of this incident is set out in a separate story.
  • I now look forward to a very active 2011 and an eightieth birthday.
  • I still work up to 6 hours a day on my words and language.

Ruth Simmonds
April 2011

  Telephoning: 08 8443 5555 The Talkback Association for Aphasia Inc.
302 South Road, Hilton.
South Australia, 5033