In September 2013 the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Austin Speech Labs, Shilpa Shamapant, asked me to write a brief article about Casey’s recovery for the annual newsletter. I typed up a few paragraphs, emailed them off to her and promptly forgot about the task. After Christmas, just a couple of days ago actually, the 2013 newsletter from ASL arrived in our snail mailbox out on the curb in front of our house.
Page one had a brief review of the year, “A Look Back & A Look Forward.” It was followed by a longer article from the Executive Director reviewing the history of the cutting-edge speech labs, crediting the numerous contributions of skills and expertise as well as the many generous and dedicated people who are committed to stroke recovery. Turning her dreams for ASL into reality has included those in the trenches putting the clients through ground-breaking exercises and practice as well as the medical and scientific research communities who tirelessly work to add to the knowledge-bank for understanding the miraculous human brain and its capacity to to recover from stroke.
I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that I drew in my breath when I was confronted by the paragraphs I had written three and a half months ago. They are in the middle of the newsletter. I thought I would post a link to ASL on Facebook so Casey’s many friends could see it, but when I went to the ASL website the latest newsletter posted there was the one from 2011, so it may be a while before the webmaster gets the 2013 letter on the site. I have decided to share the article with you by posting it here :
RECOVERY NEVER STOPS: CASEY’S STORY”
On January 3, 2007, in the flash of a moment, the entire right side of Casey’s 36-year-old body was paralyzed and all of his language disappeared. An amazing path of recovery has ensued. From a wheelchair and hand signs, Casey has moved through a series of complex recovery efforts to an astonishing life of independence.
In 2008 he enrolled in Austin Speech Labs’ second Boot Camp. By then, he was walking without any assistive device but was still limited in his communication. He could say some words, but not phrases or sentences. Casey, a mechanical engineer, who worked at a brewery in New Mexico before the stroke, now moved in with his sister, Jeni, in the Austin area and began an intense focus on regaining his former facility and pleasure with the English language. Within the following year, he moved into his own apartment and in 2012, Casey began a part-time job working at Austin Homebrew. Today he’s employed two full days and two half days and faithfully maintains his work at ASL three mornings each week.
The amicable, positive atmosphere at ASL has been the perfect milieu for Casey to succeed. The clear direction and supportive respect from Shilpa and her partner, Shelley Adair, are unquestionably the guiding force he needs. From their sincere belief in him, he is regaining conversational skills and has been propelled into a self- confidence that is inspiring to his family and friends. He now Skypes regularly with another stroke survivor and follows along as his mother reads books to him over the phone. He has traveled alone by plane to visit friends and recently drove with a friend to visit a fellow stroke survivor in Laredo, Texas. Together they engaged in a variety of social activities and challenged themselves on bike trails.
Reaching out to make new friends and enjoy the camaraderie of friendly interaction has resulted from his perseverance in the intricacies of recovery. Casey and another ASL client meet for lunch regularly. Recently Casey stretched his language skills to include texting. He does most of his own banking, pays the bills, uses a computer, works out and keeps tabs on his favorite Formula One race-car drivers.
Casey’s faith and the support from loyal friends and family are stellar components in his motivation to recover. We have grown in many ways and been inspired by him as much as he has been by us. Thank you Shilpa and Shelley for your studied, marvelous expertise and for being an exquisite foundation of grace for us in Casey’s recovery!