A friend’s mother had a stroke two years ago. Left with partial paralysis of the right arm as well as difficulty speaking she could barely communicate or physically function. After many months of physical and speech therapy there were minor improvements in motor skills. Vocabulary improved to about 12 words from none. Even with these handicaps her mind remained sharp. She could even understand what everyone said to her. But, on the other hand, she was more often than not unable to let anyone know what she was thinking. Frequently, she would utter undecipherable sounds that no one could understand. At times like these frustration could be read all over her face. In seeking a better way to communicate photography played a key part in the solution.
Pictures were taken of the most common items that she used on a daily basis. These included a walker, wheelchair, bathroom, bed and bottle of water. There were other images of snacks, drink supplements and a television. All in all there were about 15 items. These were grouped together and laid out on an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper. A clear vinyl protective sleeve protected the printed page. Now, when his mother is asked what she wants or where she’d like to go she could easily point to the specific image providing a quick response. These images have made it much easier to communicate. As far as the future goes as her vocabulary or needs increase this graphic layout can be changed at any time.