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Abby Maslin's "Brain School" Abby Maslin's "Brain School"

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[Abby Maslin, Caregiver, Wife, Mother, and Teacher] When TC got home from the hospital after 3 months in the hospital, I think I was determined to do whatever I could as a teacher and a former therapist, myself, to rehabilitate him. I saw that as my purpose in life and that was what was going to keep me going. So, when TC got home from the hospital, we started something called Brain School, and we were fortunate to get Jack into a daycare full time, so we would drop Jack off at school, we would come home, we would sometimes go to the gym first and work out for an hour, and then we would sit down and we would get very, very serious about working on speech. We started with flash cards that I borrowed from teacher friends that were just the alphabet and making the sound that matched the letter, and even that was extraordinarily difficult. I was practicing letter recognition with him—could I say the letter A and could he understand what I was saying? And point to the letter A, and when you have aphasia, it's not a loss of intellect—he was still as brilliant 3 months post-injury as he was before his injury. The problem was that his brain could not process language anymore, so the words that I was saying to him were kind of coming in sounding like a foreign language. It's like being in another country and being totally immersed in a foreign language. So, I'm saying the letter A and he's hearing [makes sound]. So, it's not that he didn't know what the letter A was; it's not that he couldn't make it if he knew what the directions were; it's that we had to get through a lot of this kind of auditory processing in order to reestablish those connections. So, we would do flash cards; I would have him practice writing important names and dates because I knew he was going to want to be able to give his own personal information, but also Jack's information. We used all kinds of different games for occupational therapy purposes, so just picking up pegs and putting them in a a game board. We got very creative and we tried to involve Jack in it as much as possible, so that it felt fun. In the car, that became our really important therapy space because we were in the car so much. My mom was going through chemotherapy, so I was driving her to chemo, driving TC to therapy, driving Jack to school, and I was spending hours in the car every day, so I began to wonder what else I could do for TC to help him with the language because if nothing else, I knew the speech was the crux of it. If he didn't get his speech back, he couldn't go back to work. It would be very hard to be married to somebody that you just couldn't communicate with. So, we would listen to books on tape and then have the book in front of us so that he could hear the words and then see the words. We would sing songs with Jack. I would just make up songs with different letter sounds and have them repeat them back to me. Our car really became the therapy car—the therapy space— and it helped us to utilize our time a lot better. I'm trying to think of what else we did— We kept very, very busy during those months home from the hospital. I was terrified because I think I had been told so many times that the first year post-brain injury is kind of it— like, who TC was that following August was going to be the TC he is for the rest of his life, and although I had some smart people who told me that wasn't true, and even though I had read a lot that indicated that wasn't true, I still was really dead set on using that first year to its maximum potential. There was no wasted moment—we really did have to— we really did have to build in therapy into our everyday lives.

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Caregiver Abby Maslin used her background as a teacher to help her husband recover — with flashcards, books on tape, and singing in the car with their little boy.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Christian Lindstrom, BrainLine.

Comments [2]

Wow!  It’s amazing what you and T.C. have accomplished, Abby!  We’re sure that your blogs and this video have helped so many people with brain injuries.

Cheers,

Peggy & Ken

Oct 25th, 2014 9:34pm

Kudos to Abby Maslin's approach to familiarize her husband's learning!!! My Mother used workbooks, flashcards, and ads in magazines to help my brain remember things. Wishing you success in the future!!' Shannon Marie Hilbert

Oct 24th, 2014 11:19pm

 

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