The Aphasia Center of West Texas began with a small group of adults – previously active people, who as a result of stroke, acquired aphasia. Even though they knew exactly what they wanted to say, they could not state their most basic need or reliably state their own names. At ages 51, 52, and 70, all had been discharged from traditional speech therapy. Social isolation, boredom, and a dramatically changed life lay ahead. Individuals and community leaders questioned if there was nothing more to offer or if there was a service that could alter this devastating outcome.

In 2001, an old-fashioned barn-raising began to occur as the people of Midland, Texas stepped forward. The Scarborough-Linebery Foundation, Midland Memorial Hospital Foundation, and Manor Park joined forces in an effort to respond to the glaring gap in care for the approximately one in every 250 people coping with aphasia in West Texas. Well-respected community volunteer and philanthropist Nancy Anguish (Jefferson Award article) enthusiastically became founding board president. An experienced board of directors was recruited in March of 2002, new clients were added that October, and the organization achieved its official 501(c)(3) status by February of 2003, becoming the second independent aphasia center in the U.S. to open its doors.

The Abell-Hanger Foundation, Permian Basin Area Foundation and others invested in the dream of building a non-profit organization that could offer aphasia education, aphasia resources and a community of peers for on-going conversational practice and social support for both individuals and families coping and living with aphasia. In December of 2003, with a training grant from the Helen Greathouse Charitable Trust, staff received training at the renowned Aphasia Institute in Toronto, Canada. They joined representatives from multiple countries – all learning the Life Participation Approach to Aphasia, a holistic service approach proven to positively influence a person’s ability to re-engage in life’s interactions and activities in spite of aphasia.

As a result, the Aphasia Center of West Texas’ mission continues to be realized. Each year the Aphasia Center of West Texas seeks to improve the quality of life of individuals and families living with aphasia by overcoming communication barriers. At the heart of that mission are the individuals with aphasia who inspire us by their courage, motivation, and resilience – proving that there is LIFE after aphasia.