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Speech Therapy for People with Aphasia (PWA): Homework is more than just HOMEWORK!
As long as I can remember, I liked homework. It was fun and a challenge to me. In my mind, it made me feel like I was “accomplishing” something as small as it was. I imagine that many of us have acquired habits like that that work for us, without really knowing how those habits developed. The habit of “liking my homework” likely continued into my post-stroke world without any conscious reason to act on it other than my habit to do so.
“--the universally admitted fact that any sequence of mental action which has been frequently repeated tends to perpetuate itself; so that we find ourselves automatically prompted to think, feel, or do what we have been before accustomed to think, feel, or do under like circumstances, without any consciously formed purpose, or anticipation of results.” (James, 1887).
The elementary school playground spinners are a useful metaphor for aphasia recovery and the persistent, repetitive, and consistent homework that is needed. Once the spinner is up to speed, it doesn’t take much to keep it going. A regular, persistent “push” keeps the speed up for much less energy and effort than the start. Homework is one of the many pushes for aphasia recovery.
“The next result is that habit diminishes the conscious attention with which our actions are performed.” (James, 1887).
Formal therapeutic activities likely induce a plasticity spike that fades without the next “push.” Day-to-day homework maintains the persistent stimuli (experience-dependent activities) and continuity that keep the spinner going.
Homework is more than just run-of-the mill homework. It cannot be an option or an afterthought. Homework (for people with aphasia) requires a continuous push to keep and sustain the neural machinery, spinning on day one.
Please review the complete article (PDF) and the associated video about habit, homework and the therapeutic activities that induce plasticity and the resultant learning.