All of my clients, regardless of age, wish to be as independent as possible with their communication and swallowing skills. Imagine you are two years old, with no overt signs or symptoms of a disability, and are still spoon fed by your mother/father/guardian. Do you feel independent at all when someone else is ‘sending the plane’ into your mouth? Probably not.
Imagine you are 50 years old and have just suffered a stroke. A stroke that renders you feeling trapped in your body because your brain knows exactly what you want to say, but you cannot execute the action of sounds in words to get your message across to your communication partner. Having to rely on a speech pathologist to provide a communication board or asking Yes/No questions does not give you that feeling of independence.
Imagine you are someone who may never regain independence in certain activities of daily living due to paralysis of muscles. You will want independence the most because you rely on others to help you carry out the activity or participate in a social environment.
Health professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech pathologists are available to help identify and assess the levels of independence required for each activity of daily living (e.g. self-grooming, feeding self, having a conversation with a family member…etc). We therapists then assist the dependent person by developing realistic goals to achieve partial or full independence, for optimal outcomes achieved.
Assisting children and adults to feel independent in their home and social environments by providing therapeutic intervention is a satisfying feeling for us as therapists. That smile on someone’s face when he/she gains even a miniscule of independence gives us the reassurance that yes, he/she……CAN DO IT.