12 Days of Tap 2018: Day 8
– Tamara Lapsley –
My name is Tamara Lapsley and I’m a Speech-Language Pathologist and a TAP Communication Support Team volunteer. A little over 5 years ago, a dear family friend’s 18 year old son — Austin Harrell – suffered a large LMCA stroke. I had known Austin since he was born and had watched him grow up, play soccer, attend church with my kids, and go on annual camping and lake trips with our family and 3 other families from church. When Austin suffered his stroke 3 weeks before heading off to college, my heart truly broke knowing all that lay ahead of him and his family. However, in the process of trying to figure out how our group of friends could support Austin and his family through this crisis, I found out about Triangle Aphasia Project and Maura Silverman’s Communication Support Team model. I immediately felt a renewed sense of hope about Austin’s situation!
Austin’s family contacted Maura and as soon as he returned from the inpatient rehabilitation program at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Austin became involved with TAP. Almost immediately Susan Harrell and Maura organized Austin’s Communication Support Team, of which I have been honored and blessed to be a part of over the last 5 years. In conjunction with many other volunteers as well as several speech-language pathologists, Austin has gone from working on following 1-2 step directions and saying simple words and phrases to completing a college course each semester, writing college papers, and carrying on conversations with peers and strangers. Recently at TAP’s Christmas Open House I tried to make my way over to talk to Austin but wasn’t able to do so BECAUSE he was carrying on a lengthy conversation with a stranger. It brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart!!
As you can see, TAP and the Communication Support Team/Life Participation Model of therapy has had — and continues to have– a tremendous impact on Austin’s life, as well as the lives of countless others. It has also had a huge impact on my life and prompted myself and another family friend of Austin’s – Angie Hudson — to co-found Esteamed Coffee, Inc., a nonprofit coffee shop and bakery to employ individuals with communication, intellectual/developmental, and/or visual disabilities. One of the goals of this coffee shop will be to extend the Life Participation Model of therapy to the employee’s work and social environments. Maura has graciously agreed to be on the Board of Directors of Esteamed Coffee and is lending her 15 years of nonprofit expertise to this endeavor. We are so excited about taking what we have learned from the Communication Support Team model and extending it to the individual’s work environment! Please visit our website at www.esteamedcoffee.com to learn more.
From the TAP Home Office:
I recall reading the book “in An Instant” chronicling the story of Bob Woodruff’s tragic brain injury while on assignment in Iraq; his recovery and the advice provided therein by his wife, Lee, really struck a personal cord with me…. she said that everyone wants to help. Everyone who loves the individual or their family feels a need to assist in some way…but what do you do? How many times have you heard someone say “Let me know if I can do anything.” I know I heard it countless times after my mom’s stroke. But as Lee Woodruff said…just do it. Offer yourself in time and energy vs. a meal and an offer.
When Austin returned from Shepherd Center to continue his stroke rehabilitation journey, he was met by the formation of a team. A Communication Support Team (CST) made up of individuals who cared about Austin and his family and wanted to help. They pitched in and learned communication support techniques and rallied to be sure that Austin was receiving lots of goal-directed stimulation and programming.
So, … Tamara was a part of that team…and having the background as a Speech Pathologist, she understood the impact of Austin’s challenges on the ability for him to feel fully engaged and seek out purpose-driven activities. So, being the awesome person she is and knowing other awesome people, Tamara and Angie (Hudson) took inspiration into action.
The dream of Esteamed Coffee was built and is well on its way to realization! Read more about this awesome pursuit in Tamara’s story above, or check out their website! Special thanks to Tamara and Angie for inviting TAP into their efforts and allowing me to serve on their Board. Amazing people.