COLUMBIA, S.C. — Kirsten Kasko suffered a stroke when she was 29-years-old, which caused her to suffer from aphasia.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, aphasia is defined as, "A person with aphasia may have trouble understanding, speaking, reading, or writing."
Kasko describes it as, "With aphasia, you know what you’re reading and you can remember what you’re reading, I just couldn’t read it out loud. I would get really embarrassed or stressed out or frustrated or cry."
She took intensive speech therapy for 2 years, then her long-term disability ran out leaving her with no insurance. That's when Kasko knew she had to go back to work.
"I fought to go back to work because I had no insurance or money," Kasko said, "I had intensive speech for two years, three times a week, then every day trying to get cleared to go back to work."
When she was finally cleared, she would "run into people and see patients that were like me: depressed, stuck in their house, wouldn’t leave their home because they couldn’t communicate."
"So I would tell them my story and you could see hope in their eyes," she said. "Because if I had all this bad stuff happen to me and was able to get back to work and have a normal life, maybe that could happen to them.”
After telling her story over and over, Kasko decided to make an easy-to-read book of her story. That is what blossomed into her entire kit she now sells to help people who struggled like she did.
She has since written four easy to read adult specific books to help aphasia sufferers to regain their reading abilities without having to read children's books, like she had to do.
She also remembered how much flash cards had helped her in her recovery, so she made some adult-centered flash cards as well. She even offers customized cards with family member's names to help sufferers remember if they have forgotten.
Kasko says she was once treating a man whose wife had suffered from a stroke and, in turn, aphasia, as well.
"I got an email and her email was like how I would have talked: messed up sentences, messed up words. And I saved that email because that is exactly who I am targeting and who needs this," Kasko recalls teary-eyed, "I reached out and she’s doing much better using the cards.”
From here, Kasko hopes to write an autobiography about her journey fighting to get her life back, and then at some point, open up a "Stroke Camp" for people going through what she once faced.
You can visit Kirsten Kasko's website here.