Chiara is a young woman with long wavy blonde hair - she is wearing glasses and headphones and smiling at the camera

Chiara volunteered with Aphasia Re-Connect in 2020 – this is her experience:

During my remote placement at Aphasia Reconnect last summer, I facilitated several Conversation Groups with my fellow Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) student colleagues, both in a big group and in breakout rooms.

My role was mainly about making sure that everyone felt involved in conversations and supporting the clients’ understanding. For instance, I provided support by writing key words on a white board and showing these on camera for the participants or by gently inviting quieter participants to take part in discussions. I also had the chance to facilitate the Putney Group for a few weeks and two sessions of the Art Group. 

In breakout rooms, I had the chance to practise my teamwork and leadership skills, by collaborating with one of the mentors with aphasia and taking the lead by presenting slides and asking the participants for their opinions.

Hearing about the clients’ and mentors’ experiences of aphasia and other acquired communication needs helped me gain a broader understanding of how these can impact on a person’s life and what compensatory strategies can be put in place to improve quality of life. I learnt how to adapt my presentation style to different clients’ needs and to rephrase what I had said in more concise and accessible ways. 

With my SLT student colleagues, I produced aphasia-friendly resources (presentations, interactive activities) selecting appropriate visual aids and using communication strategies to increase understanding e.g. highlighting key words, using concise sentences with high-frequency vocabulary. I ran a focus group to gather feedback from people with aphasia about their experience of the buddy support project.

I have loved my time at Aphasia Reconnect and could not be happier about my learning experience thanks to the clients, mentors, colleagues, and supervisors. 

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