A student’s experience of our Aphasia Group

As an intern at S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks, I participated in the weekly aphasia group. Each week, I saw members given countless opportunities to participate in meaningful conversation. Within the two-hour group, members discuss current events, their families, past travels, work experience, and any other personal interests.  Communication is not limited to spoken words in this group. Instead, the use of all forms of communication are used to help members express their thoughts. I admire the work being done in this group and I hope the following blog will provide you with a glimpse into this weekly aphasia group.

The Aphasia Group Experience

As the members of S.L. Hunter’s SpeechWorks’ aphasia group gather around the table for weekly group therapy, I see Sandy, the group’s Communication Disorders Assistant (CDA) turn to a new member and say, “Congratulations on your new grandchild! Was it a girl or a boy?” The new member smiles and announces, “girl!” Each individual in the group begins to congratulate the new member. Some members offer a congratulations through spoken words and others through the exchange of a smile.  As the conversation continues with questions such as, “how many grandchildren do you have now?” I am filled with admiration for the personal and meaningful conversation that occurs in the group. I think to myself, “It is conversation that matters. This is what any person with or without aphasia would want to discuss.”

Discussion using all modes of communication

Next, a discussion regarding the week’s current events begins. Sandy begins a discussion on the CN Tower Edge Walk. She picks up a black sharpie and begins to write key words that will be used in the discussion. “The CN tower,” she says while pointing to the word “CN tower” on the sheet in front of her, “is allowing visitors to walk around the building’s very top edge.” Sandy pauses again and draws a simple sketch of the building. Next, she draws an arrow pointing to the top of her drawing to indicate the EdgeWalk occurs at the very top. Some of the members begin to chuckle. As I watch Sandy continue to unravel the discussion, I am struck by both Sandy and the group’s volunteers’ use of every mode of communication to aid each member’s understanding of the topic.

Once the summary is complete, Sandy and the volunteers begin to lead the group through discussion questions. “Would you want to participate in the CN Tower’s EdgeWalk?” the volunteer asks. She then writes the key words of the question to help each member better understand. Each member of the aphasia group is given a turn to answer. One member verbally answers “no”, another shakes her head no, and another points to the word “yes” on the answer sheet created by the volunteer. I notice how Sandy and the group’s volunteers create opportunities for each of the members to express their opinions in their preferred mode of communication.

Providing everyone with an opportunity to contribute

The final half hour of the aphasia group is spent playing a game. I notice how the game “Headbanz” is adapted to provide each member with an opportunity to play. Verbal, written, and visual support is provided to help each member take a turn in the game. For example, a volunteer writes the words “person, place, and thing” on a piece of paper. Members are provided with the opportunity to form a verbal answer or to point to one of the three words written down. Again, I notice how members are provided with the individual support they need to actively participate.

I am very privileged to have been given the opportunity to participate in this aphasia group. The members seemed to enjoy themselves and keep coming back week after week.

Grad PictureRebecca is a recent graduate from the Speech-Language Pathology Program at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Through her internships, she has gained experience working with toddlers, school aged children, and adults with a variety of communication disorders. While Rebecca enjoys working with kids and adults, she has a special interest in working with kids who have language disorders.

SpeechWorks Takes Part in the Burlington Children’s Festival

shutterstock_78308221The Burlington Children’s Festival is celebrating its 24th year with a sports themed event. Enjoy free sports-themed, fun activities, including live entertainment, crafts, themed shows, a kid’s marketplace as well as food vendors if you end up staying for a while.

The Info!

When and Where

The Festival is taking place on Sunday August 16, 2015 from 10am-5pm at Spencer Smith Park 1400 Lakeshore Road in Burlington.


Admission and events are all free.


Our staff will be present at the festival from 10-5 on August 16th. Feel free to come and visit!

Highly trained and skilled Speech Language Pathologists and Communicative Disorders Assistants will be on sight to answer any questions you may have about your child’s speech, language and literacy needs.

There will be pamphlets available with communication expectations for the parents to take home. There will also be information about voice for those with family members with voice disorders. We will have information about all of the services we offer (not just for the kids).

There will be games set up for the children as well, they can walk away with prizes: stickers, candies, and temporary tattoos can be won. You can also walk away with a FREE beach ball!

Just look for the white tent with the S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks sign attached.  We will all be wearing purple shirts!

We hope to see everyone at the Burlington Children’s Festival.  August 16th at Spencer Smith Park.

GwenBlackburn-220Gwen is a Communicative Disorders Assistant with more than 17 years of experience working with a diverse client base.  Her experiences have provided her with the wonderful opportunity to be associated with adults suffering from brain injuries, those that have experienced a stroke, children with articulation and language difficulties and children who have a limited word repertoire.

SpeechWorks Lectures to University of Toronto


On April 23rd, S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks was proud to attend the University of Toronto to lecture to the graduate class of Speech-Language Pathology (class of 2015) in what would be the last lecture of their graduate education. Not only was it a privilege to share our clinical experiences, but it was a fantastic opportunity for the class to hear from two acquired brain injury survivors. The experience was rich for the students and even richer for us as clinicians to watch our clients shine in sharing their presentations! The clinician portion of the presentation was delivered by Bobi Tychynski Shimoda and Shanda Hunter-Trottier. The topic was Acquired Brain Injury Treatment.

A Story of Client Success

We were absolutely delighted to have two of our amazing clients presenting. The first hour of the lecture was the result of two months of preparation with our two clients, JW and BH. The duo spent weekly therapy sessions developing a presentation to share with the U of T class which included a description of the similarities and differences between each of their brain injury symptoms and the therapeutic strategies that have been most helpful to them.

This was an amazing feat for both of these client, and especially one, who reportedly fears speaking with unknown people, let alone speaking in front of 50 students! JW and BH spoke with poise and confidence and the entire class was captivated.

The project enabled the clients to work on communication confidence, verbal articulation and intonation, planning and organization, perspective taking, memory, and self-awareness. It was very meaningful to both clients and they were extremely excited after achieving success in the presentation. One client texted me that evening, “I feel really proud of myself”!

A Bright Future for the Speech-Language Pathology Profession

Once the class was warmed up and thoroughly engaged, we clinicians took over to speak about working within the motor vehicle accident sector and the insurance system. The class was extremely engaged and asked a variety of questions demonstrating their enthusiasm for the topic (thanks to JW and BH).

We are so pleased to have had a chance to connect with U of T’s class of S-LP students. These future clinicians were a bright bunch. We are certain that they will be assets to our profession.

BobiTychynskiShimoda-220Bobi Tychynski Shimoda is a Speech-Language Pathologist with more than a decade of experience working with neurological communication and swallowing disorders. She has worked in a variety of settings including inpatient rehab, acute care, community, and private practise. She is highly skilled in assessment, and innovative treatment approaches. 

S. L. Hunter Speechworks Gives Back to the Community

shutterstock_151391255Over the years, S. L. Hunter SpeechWorks has been so thanksful for the loyalty of its clients.  Because of this, Shanda Hunter-Trottier , the clinic owner and director has often reached out to our clients and the community at large in many ways, whether it’s to give back, support our clients, or educate the public about impairments and the help that is available to them.

To give back

In November, many of our clinicians enjoyed the silent auction, delicious buffet and entertaining video presented by the Hamilton Brain Injury Association.

In the spring of last year, the Brain Injury Association of Niagara’s memorable fundraiser “Head for the Hills” 5 km walk lead teams of survivors, caregivers, and therapists through the beautiful trails of St. Catharines. Click here if you’d like to participate in this year’s event! Funds raised from these events go towards many great activities such as support groups for survivors and caregivers.

Last June in recognition of Brain Injury Awareness Month, a Free Workshop for Caregivers of Brain Injury Survivors was hosted in Hamilton.  This event was offered to caregivers at no charge thanks to the generous contributions of many local professionals, including S.L. Hunter.

To support

Our therapists have also attended many fundraising events for one of our pediatric clients. This little one has physical and communication challenges which require specially designed equipment for everything from a chair to a bike.  The funds raised are used for programs and specialized equipment.  Causes like this are so meaningful to S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks as many families with a child with severe disabilities cannot manage to have both parents go back to work. One parent may have to stay home and be a full-time therapy provider, leaving the family with only one income and making it difficult to afford the much needed services for their child.

Relay for Life is a long time recipient of support from our clinic.  The team “Matthew’s Friends” consisting of 5 moms and their children have been participating in the relay for 8 years in honour of a little friend they lost to cancer. S. L. Hunter SpeechWorks has also contributed to fundraising efforts of the Rotary Club in support of the wonderful work they do for our community.

To educate

Last August, S. L. Hunter Speechworks participated in the Burlington Children’s Festival at Spencer Smith Park. The children who visited our booth played games and won prizes. The parents were eager to learn about language development and our services. A few of our clients even stopped by just to say “hello.”

Throughout the year, the moms who attended our Momstown Baby Basics and Toddler Time presentations received information on milestones for play, hearing, speech and language development as well as demonstrations of functional activities to take home. Our Speech Language Pathologists also offered an “Ask  The Expert” night on the Momstown message board.

We also hosted an exhibit at the Autism Canada Show at the Ron Joyce Centre in October of last year. This event was attended by community college students, parents and other professionals. We were able to give out information about different therapy approaches for children with ASD.

If it’s sports you’re into, you may see the S. L. Hunter SpeechWorks name and logo alongside the Burlington Bulldogs Major Bantam A/AA team and the Burlington Blue Jays Soft Toss Baseball team.   With concussion in children’s sports on the rise, we recognize the importance of raising awareness and safety related to prevention and treatment of concussion on any playing field.

From both large and small charitable organizations, to children with exceptional needs, or simply to support a local baseball team,  at S. L. Hunter SpeechWorks we understand what it means to give back. To get involved with any of the causes we’ve talked about, click on the links above to the organizations mentioned.

SandyMastoris-220Sandy is a dedicated professional with 30 years experience serving clients with communication challenges.  She specializes in working with clients who have an acquired brain injury.  Sandy’s expertise also includes planning and implementing  pragmatic/social language programs. Sandy enjoys the successes of her clients and working within a committed and professional team.










How to Help Your Loved One at Home with Their Speech and Language Therapy

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.”

–         George Washington Carver


Whether it’s your child who is receiving therapy for a stutter or your elderly father who is receiving speech therapy following a stroke, there are practical ways you can help at home to assist them in progressing toward their goals for improvement and to show your love and support.

With people of any age – but particularly with children, consistency is important. To ensure the best possible outcome, it’s critical that the homework or techniques and strategies recommended by your loved one’s Speech-Language Pathologist be practiced and completed between each session.

Focus on your family member’s strengths and preferences when choosing practice activities and remember to be flexible. There will be days when even the preferred techniques simply won’t work. On those days, it’s best to move on and try something else.

Young or old, everyone will benefit from maintaining a positive attitude. While frustrations can emerge when acquiring new speech and language skills or reclaiming lost ones, it’s important to remember that improvement is a process. Success typically isn’t seen overnight. Achieving good results from an exercise program takes tenacity and determination and so too does achieving a positive outcome in speech and language therapy.

S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks provides a complete range of assessment and treatment services for people of all ages with challenges in speech, language and communication. Any person with such concerns is welcome to contact the clinic to set up an appointment.

The offices of S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks are located at 5195 Harvester Rd. Unit 4B. To make an appointment, call 905-637-5522 or visit them online at www.slhunter.ca.