My first job as a speech pathologist was in a rehabilitation hospital that specialized in traumatic brain injury. It was memorable for so many reasons. Working with acquired brain injury patients taught me that no one chooses to do badly. I was able to see that all our behaviors both positive and negative are a result of unique connections in the brain.
One patient that left a lasting impression was a woman who had a stroke and could no longer read. Her family said that reading was very important to her, but as a result of her stroke that was in the left hemisphere of her brain, she no longer could read. When working with her she always tried to avoid me. Headaches, sleeping, she had to rest for other therapies were a few of the excuses she came up with, but I persisted. A doctor’s order for Tylenol before our sessions cured the headaches which she did get when she worked with me until she acclimated to reading again. We worked together for weeks making new connections around the injured connections in her brain, and she was able to read. Later, she came back to the hospital to tell me how much she appreciated my persistence.