ANCDS Clinical Spotlight: Michael Biel, CScD, CCC-SLP, BC-ANCDS

By Michael Biel, CScD, CCC-SLP, BC-ANCDS

The Aphasia Book Club of Echo Park — near downtown Los Angeles — was formed in 2014.  My wife, Francie Schwarz, is a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library, and we thought it would be interesting to combine our skills to create a book club for persons with aphasia.  Early on, we contacted local aphasia support groups inviting people to be part of a planning committee.  We attracted a group of diverse people, many with long histories of making their living in the arts.  Out of this planning committee, we formed our main goal: to create a stimulating and supportive book club where we could read and discuss a wide range of adult fiction and non-fiction.  Over the years, we have become more diverse in the types of literature we read.  In addition to books, we have spent considerable time reading short stories, plays, and poetry.  Some of our best discussions have come from reading poetry.  This led our members to want to learn more. So far, we have hosted three 8-week poetry writing workshops taught by the well-known Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine.

Our initial inspiration came from hearing about the book club at the Aphasia Center of California in Oakland.  We got our start, material-wise, by using the excellent Book Connection™ manual and curriculum materials created by the staff at that center.  We have also been fortunate to be supported by a grant from the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.  You can read more about our book club in an essay by Louise Steinman for the Los Angeles Review of Books. Louise attended our book club while we read her wonderful non-fiction book, The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father's War.

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