Stories from the brainreels guests: Cathy Sparkes and Sam Simpson of intandem

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Here we are, newly arrived at another National People with Brain Injury Appreciation Month. I know there are always tons of engaging brain injury awareness events across the country in March, and many include stories from survivors, peers, and family members. I like to highlight those. Of course, these events also usually have a heavy emphasis on rehabilitation, and there are often scientists, doctors, and rehab clinicians who present too. Something that I haven’t heard of before? A conversation between peers and providers. I’d love to see that, something more like a panel instead of separate presentations. People with brain injury are often so hungry for more information about improving our lives. Providers are most knowledgeable when they tap into lived experiences of their community members with disabilities and not just focus on the published research. Hmm. Why don’t we talk more?

Well, problem solved! Or at least addressed. This month’s Stories from the brainreels episode is my first ever where the guests are clinicians. They’re not just any clinicians, though. They’re the very savvy, anti-ableist, dynamic, funny, and talented Cathy Sparkes and Sam Simpson who run their practice in the UK. They focus mostly on clients with brain injury and stutterers. Oh, UK, when are you moving here?

Our conversation isn’t about brain injury or disability awareness, prevention, research, or the other topics that March events usually address. We go right into the Social Model of disability and ways that patients can speak up for themselves. Because they’re both speech-language pathologists and licensed counselors, they have a unique, holistic approach to providing therapy and even to not providing therapy if it’s not in a client’s best interest at the moment or they’re just not a good match. They’re very big on choice, being transparent, and making sure speech therapy and counseling are meaningful. Not meaningful just for the clinician filling out billing information and chart notes. Meaningful to the humans in the room who have a disability and also have culture, personality, interests, and therapy goals of their own that may be totally different from what the clinician wants for them.

Please enjoy the episode and pop on over to to see Cathy and Sam’s work and read their really cool blog. And check out Sam’s guest blog post about how she views the social model and a social justice approach to stuttering activism (in the UK, it’s called stammering)!

Click here for an accessible transcript of podcast episode #48.