I’m not an Itsa.

Back from the ASHA 2010 convention with a lot to think about.  Let’s begin here.

When I was a student with Hildred Schuell at the Minneapolis VA, I would watch her, and her disciple, Joyce Sefer, working on stimulation therapy.  The person with aphasia would be seated at a table and using a set of highly redundant words, phrases or sentences, they would slowly but naturally say each one, and request repetition.  Maybe 20 times, but with some time in between for a drag on cigarettes, or a glance out the window at the Minnesota snowfall.  The person would eventually get it, and they would continue, saying it, reading the word, writing it, laying down a neurobiological track for the train to follow.  I don’t think I ever remember that dreaded question, “What’s this?,” though noun pictures or words might be used.  Naming was not part of the therapy; it flowed naturally from the stimulation provided.

Whenever I see a therapist holding up the dreaded noun picture, and asking the person with aphasia to name it, my skin crawls.  What is with that?  If you know someone has difficulty retrieving words, why ask him to retrieve, especially if you have not provided him with any supports or stimulation to provide a means for access?  Multimodality stimulation or other stimulation techniques will get you there.  Eventually.  And without that horrid confrontation naming format.  “What’s this?  It’s a…”

At the National Association Breakfast last Thursday morning, seated near Anita Halper, I heard her story about Wepman and naming.  He reacted to a confrontation naming effort cloaked in the name of “therapy,” by saying to the therapist, “What is this about?  I’m not an Itsa.”

Naming is itsa therapy.

I’m with you, Wepman.




About Shirley Morganstein

I am a life participation therapist for people with aphasia, exploring the relational and reflective process.
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One Response to I’m not an Itsa.

  1. Mebiel says:

    great observation. So much of the treatment literature is "Itsa" based


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