When Jean Deer suffered a life threatening stroke in 1997, he could no longer continue his 40 plus year career as a professional photographer. Through continuous therapy, he had to learn to use his non-dominant hand and arm, having lost all mobility in his favored right arm that he used as a professional photographer. Along with these losses was Jean’s ability to communicate as a result of his aphasia following his stroke. Being the creative person that he was, the inability to communicate through his camera lens and through spoken word was heartbreaking to him.
Twelve years after his stroke, having gone through speech and occupational therapy, Deer’s wife found an article on the Adler Aphasia Center and immediately reached out to the center for more information.
As a member of the Center for the last three years, participation in communication skills groups, art, computer workshops and the Drama Club have brought him a sense of belonging and understanding. Being in this positive, supportive community has given him the strength and confidence he lacked for years following his stroke. His friends and the staff at the Center have become a new support system, an encouraging second family that brings him joy and lots of laughter.
Jean began drawing before attending the Center. However, as friendships and connections forged, his drawings became more expressive. Today, Jean’s body of artwork has grown to more than 3000 drawings, all pen and ink. His confidence and self–esteem have blossomed to the point that he is no longer afraid or ashamed to communicate with the public about his art. His work is regularly seen at art shows all over the Northeast. He inspired the Adler Aphasia Center to use his artwork to celebrate their 10th Anniversary by creating a special poster to commemorate the year-long celebration.