“Lost and Found” – UCL Communication Clinic at the Bloomsbury Festival
By Michael P Dean, on 1 November 2016
People who attend the UCL Communication Clinic contributed to this year’s Bloomsbury Festival. The theme of the festival was ‘Language’ and the Clinic’s exhibits sought to raise awareness of the challenges of living with communication difficulties.
Volunteers from the UCLU Giving Voice Society assisted on the day. Read their excellent summary of the exhibits and the feedback received from members of the public here.
A Stitch of Time: Reading and discussion with aphasic author Lauren Marks
By Michael P Dean, on 19 October 2016
Wednesday 2nd November, 5pm, Chandler House, Room G10. All welcome
Lauren spent a decade in professional theatre and pursued a PhD at The Graduate Center at City University of New York. When she was twenty-seven, she suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. She woke up in a hospital with impairments to her reading, speaking, and writing abilities, and a diagnosis: aphasia.
Lauren will be reading from her memoir “A Stitch of Time,” to be published next year by Simon & Schuster. You can read (and hear) more at her website: http://www.astitchoftime.com/
The event will also include interactive exhibits and artwork co-created by clients at the Communication Clinic for this year’s Bloomsbury Festival. More on this soon!
Why are some sentences easier to produce for speakers with aphasia, while others are difficult?
By Michael P Dean, on 23 August 2016
Volunteers from the UCL Communication Clinic have been helping to tackle this question by taking part in Dr Vitor Zimmerer’s research.
One answer is that sentences with more complicated ‘grammar’ are more difficult. Another answer is that how often you hear or say a sentence is important. For example, the sentences “I don’t know” and “You don’t know” are equally complicated, but people use “I don’t know” much more often. Words in commonly used sentences are stored together as a ‘formula’ in the brain, and are less affected by brain injury such as a stroke. Formulas are easier to say for many people with aphasia.
We all use formulas; they are a natural part of communication. But if you are limited to formulas, you will find it harder to talk about new situations that need less common or entirely new sentences.
Vitor’s research uses a computer program to calculate how much a person uses formulas. The future aim is to develop therapy that starts with these easier kinds of sentences, and then builds more and more flexibility in communicating.
If you are interested in taking part in research projects, please contact the clinic.
The drawing class
By Michael P Dean, on 11 July 2016
Ben attends the UCL Communication Clinic on Mondays. He has been using voice recognition software (Dragon Naturally Speaking) to produce written texts while working on his speech and language skills. He wrote the passage below about a recent activity:
Today has been much like every other day, although with one big difference.
Today , I went to see what the drawing class is like. I was very excited. Especially as I have now got only my left hand to draw with, and so I will have to get used to it. Before I went, I thought, ” Oh no, this could be fun, or tragic!”
The place is called Midnight Gallery and is located in Balham. There were a few other people there, so that was quite good. However, I was only one there with a Stroke, which felt a bit weird. I will be honest and say that I wasn’t the best I have been. However, it was quite good using my left hand. I will say that all in all, it was a good time. It was weird to be using my left hand as opposed to my right, because up until now I had always been a right handed drawer. I also found it quite fun to try, and do it with my left hand, including oil paints which is something I’ve never done with my left hand before. I quickly gave up and instead used pencils to draw. However, if I do go again, which I believe I will, I shall start on drawing and leave the oil painting for another time. With one hand it is not that fun. It will be cool to see how much I have changed over the next few weeks.
By Michael P Dean, on 23 March 2016
Hot on the heels of our Winter newsletter comes one for Spring. It contains contributions from people with acquired communication difficulties who attend the clinic, as well as an account of the presentations given by two service users at the recent Giving Voice Society ‘European Day of Speech and Language Therapy’ event. This was was a great success. You can download a copy by clicking on this link: Spring newsletter.
Evening event on Wednesday March 9th
By Michael P Dean, on 25 February 2016
The UCL Giving Voice Society is holding an event to mark European Day of Speech and Language Therapy. Click on the poster below to see a larger version, with details of times and tickets. The evening includes talks by clients from the Communication Clinic, as well as award winning comedy.
By Michael P Dean, on 27 January 2016
A copy of the clinic’s newsletter (January 2016 ) can be downloaded by following this link:
It contains contributions from people with communication difficulties, in their own words.
Giving Voice Society Carol Concert
By Michael P Dean, on 8 December 2015
The Giving Voice Society is hosting a Carol Concert on Thursday 17th December at 19:30 – 21:00 at UCL South Cloisters (UCL Main Building, Gower St, London, WC1E 6BT)
It will be an evening of festive cheer with carols from three great choirs:
- The Sign Society choir who sign as they sing.
- Sing for Joy – a choir for those with Parkinson’s and other related conditions.
- The Giving Voice Choir who will be performing a sing along set to finish off the evening!
There will be mince pies and mulled wine on sale as well as cards from Downright Excellent – a charity that provide speech and language therapy to children with Down Syndrome.
Tickets are £3.50 for members of the Giving Voice society and £5.00 for non-members – this cost includes a drink of mulled wine and a mince pie! Bring along your friends and family!
Christmas jumpers are encouraged but not necessary! Click on poster below for more details, or join the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/events/1190062687675831/
The clinic will be hosting a talk by artist Robert Welch.
By Michael P Dean, on 16 November 2015
Robert had a stroke in 2011 and has aphasia. He made drawings whilst still in hospital, subsequently exhibiting, writing about and publishing this work. He will be talking about his experiences. Speech & language therapist Helen Day will discuss the use of projects in therapy.
The event will take place on Wednesday 9th December at 5pm, Room G10 Chandler House (2 Wakefield Street, WC1N 1PF). All are welcome.
You can see Robert interviewed here:
Seeking research participants: How does conversation flow in fluent aphasia?
By Michael P Dean, on 17 September 2015
Student speech and language therapists Alison Hilton and Jessie Scott, alongside Dr Suzanne Beeke, are investigating self-monitoring, awareness and conversation in Wernicke’s and other fluent aphasias. They would be interested to hear from people with fluent aphasia who would happy to video record their conversations with family or friends at home, which will then be analysed by the students to learn more about how conversation flows in fluent aphasia, what helps and what interrupts it.
Fluent aphasia is characterised by a normal rate and rhythm of speech, long sentences and no long pauses. A key feature is that the words and sentences used may not make sense to the listener, although the person speaking may not recognise this and become frustrated when not understood.
The key criteria for taking part are:
- > 6 months post-stroke
- Not currently receiving speech and language therapy through NHS services
- Presence of a conversation partner (not necessarily a family member but someone the participant regularly engages in conversation with)
- Consent to being video recorded
- No significant hearing or visual impairment (excluding symptoms of age-related hearing loss)
- No co-occurring mental health issues or progressive neurological conditions e.g. dementia
Alison and Jessie will be glad to speak with anyone who has queries and can provide more detailed information. They can be contacted by email:
or via the Clinic’s telephone number.