One of the professors at the college where Don had been going for speech therapy for the past six years just got an award for excellence in teaching. We were invited to see her "presentation speech" because, she said, the clients who work with her students are such an important part of the speech pathology department. I'm glad we were invited. It made me tear up in several parts when she talked about things like putting ourselves in the shoes of people with aphasia and apraxia and imagining what it would be like to have so much to say and not be able to get out anything out but the 'F' word. Teaching compassion along with the analytical aspects of being a speech pathologist is one of the components they like to stress on that campus, she said.
A year or two ago this same professor had done a half hour interview of Don and me to submit---along with other client/spouse interviews---to a project someone else was doing that involved creating videos to go along with text book material that future speech pathologists study from. She included some clips of those interviews in her presentation today. Don's and my clip involved answering the question, "What is the one piece of advice I'd give to future speech therapists?" I answered to treat their clients like they would anyone else they meet for the first time, to not talk down to them. It was interesting to see Don on the video when I said that. His first "yes" was a normal tone but then he repeated that "yes" several time with increasing conviction each time. Then the professor followed up with a question asking if that happened often that people talked down to him. I replied that many people seem to equate having a language disorder with being mentally challenged. Don, then punctuated my reply with a very angry, "Oh, yes!"
Excellence in teaching: in a big way, I think Don deserves an award for excellence in teaching. He taught many student speech pathologists that clients with aphasia and apraxia can have strong personalities underneath the disability. He still teaches this to the people he interacts with in the general population. And we were told today that part of that video of Don and me made the final cut to the text book project, so Don will continue to teach far into the future.
Jean Riva ©