Introducing Your Speech Disorder…

Meet my millio-…wait, that’s not right. Sorry, I really need to go back to work. I have been spending way too much time watching the Millionaire Matchmaker on TV. What I mean is, meet my speech disorder!

This is something I’ve been struggling with. Just how does one go about introducing a speech disorder? This struck me as soon as I was well enough to start going out – especially out to eat. Which, you know, requires you to order.

If you have a speech disorder but are otherwise “normal” looking, when you are not verbal or are somewhat fluent or have word finding issues, you’re liable to get some interesting reactions.

People seem to think that:

A) You’re deaf, and they will then proceed to talk very loud or will completely ignore you and talk only to your family/friend/whomever.

B) You’ve got some intelligence issues, and will then proceed as above.

C) You’re weird because you must be completely healthy if there are no outward signs to the contrary and so…

D)…You’re rude.

I’m envisioning the face on our poor, confused waiter the first time Paul and I ventured to P.F. Changs. I was still non verbal, so Paul ordered for me, though I of course could very clearly understand him. And, you know, apart the well-hidden dent in my head, I looked perfectly fine.

Once I started talking, albeit very awkwardly, I was perplexed about how to explain my disorder.

At first, I just said to waiters or whomever, “I’m just slow.”

It then occurred to me, that probably wasn’t the best description to use…(see item B above).

After some thought, I just decided to be honest – I’ll do my best to say something right the first time so people understand me, but that’s not always possible. If that’s the case, then I just say – “I have some difficulty forming certain words, but I can understand you – when I have issues with my speech, please be patient.”

Our responses may vary depending – are you verbal? If not, consider carrying around a card that lets people know your disorder and that you can hear and understand them. Keep a pen and pad handy so that you can do as much as you can – for example, it’s easier to let your friend order lunch out to eat. But why miss out on the practice? Write it down if you can!

If you’re verbal, swallow your pride (I know, easier said than done – trust me) and USE YOUR WORDS! Don’t be afraid to say that you need more time. Slow down.

Sometimes just saying that you have a speech disorder takes the pressure off to be perfect. Sometimes, the only way is through.

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2 thoughts on “Introducing Your Speech Disorder…

  1. Thank you Jenni, for so clearly stating the speech disorder ground rules! You are encouraging us to be better listeners, and goodness knows, we can all benefit. Your blog posts fondly remind me of the nearly 25 years I spent with my father-in-law, who was amazingly verbal, sometimes challenging to understand, and totally deaf. He did not sign. He read lips. It amused me (and brought the charm out in Archie) when waiters would incrementally raise their voices in hopes that they could better understand him. Of course, A, B, C, and D all happened on occasion and sometimes, neither amusing or charming, as you well know. You are moving forward! Keep up the good work. Can’t wait for my next “be a better listener” Jenni lesson!

  2. Jenni,
    I agree with Annie above. This is great information and really helps offer insight to the perspective of both the speaker and the listener. Can’t wait to hear you soon! 🙂

    Clay & Stacey

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