…About a year after Steve’s stroke, we became aware that he felt excluded when friends and family came over…I quickly realised that social isolation is a common problem for people living with communication difficulties and their families. I started searching for a comprehensive, integrated, therapeutic solution to this problem…
Aviva and Steve
On June 5th 2006 our lives changed utterly. That morning my husband, Steve, and I practiced karate as we did every day. Our five year old daughter was counting for us in Japanese (more or less) and our baby girl was laughing at the spectacle. By that evening a stroke had stolen away Steve’s cognition, his movement and his speech. After six months in hospitals and rehab centres we took Steve home; he was less able than our baby who was now almost one and a half. In addition to numerous physical challenges Steve was diagnosed with severe expressive aphasia. His condition attracted some attention as he had the dubious honour of being one of the most severe cases his medical team had treated.
About a year after Steve’s stroke, we became aware that he felt excluded when friends and family came over. Despite his communication deficits he made it very clear that he would no longer allow visitors to our home. This became abundantly clear when one of his Steve’s friends travelled from Belgium to visit him. After a brief “hello” Steve stood up, took his friend by the hand and backed him out the front door repeating “bye bye” as he went. After that we all shared in the isolation he had been experiencing. I quickly realised that social isolation is a common problem for people living with communication difficulties and their families. I started searching for a comprehensive, integrated, therapeutic solution to this problem. The resources that I found were either limited and expensive or required support from a therapist or a training course. Eventually, Steve allowed two cheerful, young speech and language therapists to visit us. Slowly, with their help, he began to re-enter the world. Rachel Moore was one of these bright beams of light who came to our home once a week.
From the beginning I had been asking questions, sitting in on every speech and language therapy session and reading every SLT training manual and paper that I could lay my hands on. I was determined to come up with ways to help Steve to continue to make progress at home. In 2011, I started working on affordable ways to address social isolation for families living with communication difficulties. I wanted to provide home-based therapies that could help people like Steve to communicate with the outside world. Once we had a clear plan, it was only natural to ask Rachel for her expert guidance. She has been working as one of our speech and language therapy advisors ever since.
We are very proud of our accomplishments so far. In September of 2011, Neuro Hero, won a place on an accelerator program for digital business. In May of 2012 we received the Arthur Guinness Fund Award. This award supports emerging social entrepreneurs to develop their projects by providing the resources they need to make a difference. In October of 2012 we received the Impact Award from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland. This award helps high potential social entrepreneurs to refine their solution, become effective leaders and increase their impact.
With their help, we created our Talk Around IT apps for people with word finding difficulties and we are in the process of developing a number of other apps to support people with speech and language deficits as well as other cognitive challenges.