Foundation and Philosophy Develops
In the year 2000, Dr. Cindy Busch, a Speech Language Pathologist with a passion for studying clinical approaches to aphasia, began working with the Minnesota Stroke Association (MSA) to form an aphasia conversation group. This group provided services based on the social model of aphasia intervention, supported communication strategies, and life participation approaches to aphasia. Her passion for teaching also led to developing a relationship with the Minnesota State University Mankato Communication Disorders graduate student program. This allowed graduate students to learn about and then provide these cutting edge clinical approaches with aphasia group participants.
For the next 13 years the MSA aphasia program continued to evolve and developed into six groups that were quite successful in attracting people with aphasia in the Twin Cities. Student involvement expanded to include two other university graduate programs. An estimated 500 students had been trained in these techniques through the groups over the years.
MnCAN is Born*
In December 2013, Minnesota Connect Aphasia Now (MnCAN) was born as a new non-profit organization to continue the groups and provide the foundation for further growth and development in the area of services for people with aphasia. MnCAN currently has 51 participants with aphasia, many community volunteers, and SLP graduate students from 3 area universities. Eight licensed and experienced speech language pathologists facilitate nine aphasia conversation groups in the metro and out-state area. It is our goal to connect people with aphasia to MnCAN resources and other stroke and aphasia programs in the area and to expand MnCAN programs throughout Minnesota as well. We train our graduate student clinicians and communication partner volunteers to offer the aphasia group participants many forms of supported conversation strategies. Of course, it is easier and more “normal” to communicate with words, but having aphasia, by definition, makes using words and sentences more difficult. So, we use “whatever works”! We also encourage verbal communication whenever possible and the expansion of verbal skills. As participants gain confidence, they are encouraged to develop personal and communication goals that lead to increased participation in their lives. It is our hope that, through MnCAN, opportunities to participate in the organization itself will lead to further life participation opportunities.
*Information updated 9/10/15
We are inspired by people with aphasia who have never given up in their quest for living successfully with aphasia. Their dedication and spirit are what keep us going. MnCAN has been blessed with generous individual and community donations to help build our efforts to support these amazing, resilient people.