About Us

Founded by Bill Connors in 2005, www.aphasiatoolbox.com is the official website of the Aphasia Center of Innovative Treatment, inc.  Its corporate offices are located in the Penn Brewery Technical Center. The center, housed in a building built in 1846, is in the historical Deutschtown section (http://deutschtown.org/) area of Pittsburgh, PA, USA. The nine-member staff, including three people with aphasia, has provided more than 50 workshops and presentations since its inception and has collaborated with numerous university programs and health care organizations. Subscribers to the website come from 18 different countries and aphasia treatment is offered in 7 different languages, flattening the world of aphasia.

Our Staff

Bill Connors-CEO, MA, CCC-SLP, specializes in combining technology, neuroscience and learning theory with current evidence and research to advance the treatment of aphasia and related disorders. He began this career in 1975 studying under Dr. Audrey Holland and Dr. Albyn Davis, pioneers in aphasia rehabilitation. His first clinical position was at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. In conjunction with Dr. Malcolm McNeil and Dr. Patrick Doyle, he founded The Pittsburgh Aphasia Treatment, Research and Education Center in 1999 that offered intensive aphasia treatment. In 2005, he left his position at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to create aphasiatoolbox.com. Bill is a clinical instructor for the Department of Communication Disorders and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and has assisted on numerous research studies in the assessment and treatment of aphasia and related disorders. He is a state representative and member of the Multicultural Task Force for the National Aphasia Association and a member of the Advisory Board at speechpathology.com. Click here for a detailed Curriculum Vita.
Pushpa Ramachandran- Lead Speech/language pathologist, MA, CCC-SLP, has been a speech language pathologist since 2002. She brings a wealth of skills and experiences to her current focus on online, innovative treatment of aphasia and its related disorders. These include: alternative and augmentative communication; pediatric speech/language; brain injury rehabilitation; and swallowing disorders. Pushpa has worked in: school systems; autism clinics; home health services; private practice; and an acute hospital rehabilitation program. She led in the development, staff training and implementation of a unified tracheotomy weaning protocol. She trained staff in dysphasia management of patients with tracheotomies at the Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, CA. She holds certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and has been an SLP license holder from the State of California. Currently, Pushpa leads the aphasiatoolbox.com online, distance clinic and SLP collaboration network. She is coauthoring with Bill Connors the Brain Compatible Aphasia Treatment Manual.
Erin St. Myer- Business Manager, majored in neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. She brings a critical skill set to her position as Business Manager of aphasiatoolbox.com. She has 10 years of experience with the TriRivers Orthopedic practice where she worked on medical record completeness, accuracy and management for a large physician corporation. Erin also worked as a pre-K teacher at St. Paul’s Preschool in Pittsburgh, PA. Erin was elected in January 2012 to the Board of Directors for the North Allegheny Tiger Pride Association in Wexford, PA, a youth organization with several hundred participants. Erin had been a volunteer with aphasiatoolbox.com for 13 months before accepting the Business Manager position. She is the proud mother of 3 beautiful girls.
Paul Berger, PWA, MA, MBA, is a person with aphasia, and an author, speaker, creator of http://www.strokesurvivor.com, publisher, and a consumer consultant. For 15 years he has helped stroke survivors maximize their rehabilitation, regain control of their lives, and achieve their goals and dreams through his Stroke Recovery Consulting and Coaching. After publishing his internationally-acclaimed book “How to Conquer the World With One Hand... And an Attitude”, Paul won the coveted award for Individual Achievement from the National Council on Communicative Disorders. His print and e-books provide tools and tips for stroke survivors, caregivers, and professionals that assist in conquering aphasia and stroke. Paul is a volunteer advocate, serves on various boards and committees, and works as an expert consumer consultant for aphasiatoolbox.com.
Kaitlyn Kunkle, M.S., CCC-SLP has been working at a Skilled Nursing Facility in the Pittsburgh area since June 2012. Kaitlyn has had clinical experience at the Bloomsburg University Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic and in two different school districts during her time in Bloomsburg, PA. During her graduate externship placements, she worked at Aphasiatoolbox.com in Pittsburgh, PA and in a school district in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She provided speech and language services to adults with aphasia and apraxia and has experience working with children in the areas of articulation disorders, language delays, deafness and hearing loss, traumatic brain injury (TBI), autism, stuttering, selective mutism, intellectual disabilities, and emotional disturbances.
Nancy McCambridge is a person with aphasia. She graduated from Sacred Heart High School in Pittsburgh, PA. She pursued a career in banking, eventually working in the accounting department at Nordic Fisheries in Pittsburgh PA. She has participated in numerous research studies at the VA Aphasia Health care program and the University of Pittsburgh. She serves as a volunteer at her local American Legion organization. Nancy assists in data entry and management at aphasiatoolbox.com.

Austin K. White MA, CCC-SLP, is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a new addition to aphasiatoolbox.com. Austin has had graduate clinical experience with both children and adults in multiple settings including hospitals, private practices, and public schools. He has clinical-graduate experience with adults with aphasia, apraxia of speech, traumatic brain injury, cognitive disorders/disabilities, swallowing disorders (dysphagia), patients who have undergone laryngectomy and suffering from head and neck cancer. His graduate-clinician experience with children includes working with children with cleft palate, autism spectrum disorder, Apserger’s syndrome, William’s syndrome, speech sound disorders, fluency disorders, and language impairment. Austin is also certified in teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and has taught in South Korea, Canada, and the United States.. 

Alison Ezell, MA, SLP, is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh currently working in the NYC area. She has clinical experience working with a variety of pediatric and adult clients in locations such as the Pittsburgh Veteran’s Administration Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She is particularly interested in motor speech disorders, including dysarthria and apraxia of speech. 

Manos Anyfantis (MA, CCC-SLP) earned his Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology from the University of Pittsburgh. He also earned the Certificate of Clinical Competence from ASHA in 2006. During his graduate clinical training, he worked in various medical settings including the intensive aphasia clinic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where he provided speech and language services to patients with aphasia and other neurological communication disorders. Ηe has been an instructor in communication disorders in the Department of Speech Language Therapy at the Technological Educational Institute of Patras, located in Greece. Manos is fluent in the Greek and English languages.  

 

Sharon Rennhack, BA, MLS, is a person with aphasia. For over 30 years, she had a career as a researcher/librarian/writer, working in the fields of Advertising/Marketing, Financial Services, Management Consulting, and News/Television. Her volunteer work in the past included the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, as a peer counselor, and at Animal Haven, as a Receptionist and Cattery Cleaner. She is a Certified Aphasiatoolbox Practice Coach and is looking forward to working as a Greeter and Practice Counselor for aphasiatoolbox.com.


History

2007
Aphasiatoolbox.com pioneers the concept of online therapy with the use of software. The Aphasia Sight Reader (c)  was conceptualized and used in practice for therapy to help clients with aphasia make progress even without a therapist. 

2008
The Aphasia Solutions Network (ASN) is born. The ASN is a "social therapeutic network" of people with aphasia, caregivers/coaches, SLPs, and institutions/organizations. 

2009
Using oovoo, the online ASN group program is launched allowing for increased peer interaction, SLP, coach training and group practice. We add our second software program Verbal Working Memory and Attention Training for Aphasia. Presentations: Rhode Island; New York; Pennsylvania; New Jersey; and West Virginia.

2010
The new aphasiatoolbox website is launched. 
  • Adam Miller, a PWA who had been a client of the ASN for two years, and his design team build the new site. The blogsite for www.aphasiatoolbox.com wins a national award for brain disability blogs. 
  • ASN launches the Brain Compatible Aphasia Treatment program ( BCAT ) . 

    Presentations: Montreal Canada; North Dakota; Kentucky; Maryland; Ohio; Windsor Canada; Washington; DC; Pennsylvania; Online- www.speechpathology.com ; www.aphasiatoolbox.com ; and Washington DC.

Testimonials

Here are some testimonials from clients who have used our services in the past.

"As a physician, I am always looking for the best care for my patients. My Mother in Law had a stroke in 2005 which left her totally aphasic. After a year and a half of conventional speech therapy, she was released due to “lack of progress.” We were very fortunate to find William Connors who began working with her in October of 2006. She has made more progress with his therapy in six months than she had in the previous year and a half. A very important part of his therapy is training the family and caregivers on how to communicate with the patient. Because of his expertise and diligence regarding “never giving up”, I feel she will talk again."
Rahat M. Chaudhry M.D. Pittsburgh, PA 

"MB is my 63-year old sister-in-law. She is 6 years post stroke, at which time she lost her ability to speak. I am her main therapy-practice person [her “coach"]. My brother, sister-in-law and I have been attending monthly therapy sessions in PA with Bill Connors for a little over 5 years. Our local therapists said that MB had reached a “plateau" and that she probably would not progress farther. They implied that we should concentrate on helping her to “cope" rather than to pursue therapy for helping MB to regain her speech ability. 
Fortunately, MBA husband continued to search for a speech program with a different philosophy and found Bill Aphasia Center of Innovative Treatment. Since working with Bill, MB has gone from no talking to being able to respond to questions and comments with several words and often with full sentences comprehension is not an issue, just her ability to formulate and speak words in normal conversations. Through Bill creative exercises and our diligent practice, she continues to improve sometimes slowly, sometimes in short leaps. MB has also been able to greatly improve her facial and bodily expressions. 
I would personally like to commend Bill on two levels: First for his understanding of the human brain and where to focus practice for the improvement of each stroke individual unique impairment (metaphasia). 
Second for his non-selfish ability to recognize and utilize the suggestions from MBA immediate family and her coach. He has made us feel like we are definitely part of the “team that is working to guide MB towards more complete speech. Because we are witnesses to MBA continued improvement, we will keep working towards her complete speech recovery."
Sincerely, Marg Ziehler , OH

“I had a stroke about five years ago in July. Andrew Andrew Andrew Andrew that was all I could say. In the hospital I had therapy, physical therapy you know and three times (a week) speech therapy. After two, three months he (the rehabilitation hospital speech/language pathologist) said, Don bother because I couldn't find the words I wanted. He said, There is nothing more we can do for you (You have reached a plateau) We(Bill Connors and the patient) been working together for three years now. Now I speak in sentences (complexity training). When I read, I understand no. I think what we do together (in therapy) is good. I want to get well and back to work. I want to be able to converse with you normal."
SS, Pittsburgh, PA 

"My wife had a stroke years ago that left her aphasic and with apraxia of speech. We have worked with numerous speech therapists and have been involved in several programs. All have helped to some degree, but none to the extent of what Bill Connors programs has done for us. Where others have stopped or didn't believe they could help us Bill has continued to develop processes where we continue to make improvements. In our opinion what separates Bill program from others is: 
(1) Objective of the program is for you being able to talk again. 
(2) He explains what is not working in your brain (metaphasia), how that is preventing you from talking and how the exercises you are working on are aimed at repairing the problem. 
(3) His sessions and programs are very dynamic. He does not fit you into a predetermined aphasia category, but rather uses all his broad aphasia knowledge to develop a program specifically for your needs. He continually makes adjustments based on what your speech problem is. 
(4) Many of the exercises will target both aphasia and apraxia (AphasiaPhonics). 
(5) Programs are targeted to make you work and think on your own so you can talk. Not memorize or mimic what you want to say. 

Bill is very involved with his patients well being, follows up on their progress and is commented to having them improve. Without his program and support my wife doesn't believe she would be able to talk."
JC, Cincinnati , OH 

"Byron's stroke was 3 and a half years ago. After his stroke, Byron could not communicate at all. He had sound and could make sounds, but no real speech sounds. Could not point. Even his cognitive skills were poor. He could always recognize people, so that recognition was there. But as far as what was happening to him, that he was in a hospital, none of that had meaning for him. 
We started working with you (Bill Connors) about 3 years ago. Now Byron is able to make conversation with gestures, facial expressions, and a few words. The thing that you helped me to understand that I didn't at first was what aphasia and apraxia are (AphasiaPhonics). I think one of the most important things is that it is speech. It is not just drill. It is not just making sounds. I think that Byron sees himself becoming a speaker. I think that this is realistic. He (Byron) is able to understand what you're wanting him to do. It has meaning for him. It isn't just making sounds. He now sees the value of practice and learning how to make your mouth go somewhere."
Nancy Parkins, Mt. Lebanon, PA

"I has a stroke about five years ago. I has (had) speech therapy for about 26 visits. That's right. Helped nothing for my speech. I can't (couldn't) talk then. I had a stroke and can't talk. (I) started together (with Bill) 6 weeks and no months ago. I remember before I could hardly talk. Now I say, Hello Dick, How are you doing?, Can I have a cup of coffee (What) helped me most was the conjugation (sentence patterning; conjugation protocols). People with aphasia need to talk even if people ignore them."
NH, Plum Township, PA

Had a stroke 8 years ago. (I) could say nothing. After the stroke had speech therapy at the hospital but (my) speech still was nothing. We've (Bill Connors and patient) been working together about 4 years. It's been really nice; I can talk too. In therapy talking (sentence level practice) helps. I think that reading and talking (use of Simultaneous Silent Reading and Listening Protocol; text reader practice; Aphasia Sight Reader) help each other. Drills with speech sounds (AphasiaPhonics) help me hear and understand words better. Oh yes, (Dennis patient's husband) is really talking to me now. It's really hard but I have to speak too. 
NM, Penn Hills PA