One goal of treatment for aphasia is to make the therapy fun and meaningful. People prefer to work on communication that is fun and interesting. However, this is also a challenge for many speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Reciprocal Scaffolding Treatment (RST) is a therapy technique that meets this need.
RST is a group therapy treatment. It gives a person with aphasia the opportunity to teach information or a skill to a group of other people. Everyone has certain knowledge or abilities that they are especially good at and interested in. And, everyone likes to share those skills with others! However, for people with aphasia, it can be very difficult to communicate just how much they know.
When using RST, the person with aphasia selects a topic of interest that they would like to teach others about. A former teacher might choose a history lesson on the Civil War. A plumber might choose how to unclog a toilet. Any topic that the person is interested in and knowledgeable about is acceptable.
The person with aphasia and SLP work together to create a “lesson.” This lesson will be presented to the other group members. The SLP provides as much support, or scaffolding, as needed. Scaffolding techniques are also built into the lesson. This makes communication easier between the teacher and the group members. The group members also provide language models during real conversation. For the person with aphasia, preparing and giving the lesson provides many opportunities to practice. At the same time, they get to enjoy sharing their knowledge with others.
The goals of the treatment are an improvement in vocabulary/word-finding and sentence production. Another goal is the opportunity for social interaction and improved life participation. RST can be used with people with many types of aphasia at different severity levels. Benefits of RST include that it uses natural language and is a topic of interest to the person with aphasia. RST is a fun way for people with aphasia to practice their skills!