Changing Your Focus in Aphasia from ‘Can’t’ to ‘Can’

See The “Can Do” In A New World of “Can’t”

by Brian Baez, Caregiver Liaison 

I think we have all been there, in one way or another. We are held back by real or imagined obstacles that seem too big to overcome. This can have a lasting impact on the outcome of our lives. For many of us, however, we find ways to reach our goals, sometimes realizing that we are the ones holding ourselves back.

But what happens when the hurdles ahead are real? For people with aphasia, dealing with this reality can sometimes be a daunting task.

Recently my husband, Jason, has faced the reality that after only 2 years post- stroke, he may have to return to the workforce. After his SSDI came under review again,  they decided that he could return to work in “some capacity despite his aphasia and apraxia”. Neither of us are really sure how that is going to work. Aphasia can be an invisible disability, so he seems fine physically. However, he still has major problems when it comes to higher-level communication. This affects his understanding, his speech, his reading level and his writing level.

How is he going to apply? How is he going to interview? What jobs could he realistically do?

While I like to think that I can see the bigger picture, Jason is only seeing his deficits. He is beyond terrified to even try, which is completely understandable.

As scared as I may be about Jason stepping out of his comfort zone, I knew I had to help him to adjust his focus.

We sat down and made a list of all the things that he did well, and then a list of things he could do with a little help. The list was much longer than either of us originally anticipated.

We realized that he had skills that could apply to so many things, despite his limitations. Instead of focusing on his aphasia, we focused on his strengths; and when we did that we saw the possibilities in front of us. And even without mentioning this to other people, opportunities in Jason’s original field of study began to show up!

They say “attitude is everything”.  When we changed our focus from aphasia, we found the strength to move forward and take on the challenges.

When looking at the goals you’ve set, or challenges ahead, how can you change your outlook to be successful?

 

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