‘Can you please repeat what you want to say again?’---
I have to hear this question usually every day. My words spread out when I speak fast- mainly because I am excited or nervous. At that time, no one understands my words- it’s obvious. So I don’t hold any grudges towards people if they say they didn’t understand my words or I have to explain to them again slowly. But I feel guilty or depressed inside because I can’t always make people understand my words nor I can speak slowly. There are many causes of speech impediments or disorders. I guess my one is due to respiratory weakness as I have a dust allergy for which I catch coughs and colds very often; so I can’t speak long sentences sometimes as I can’t keep my breath for long.
When I was young, I couldn’t talk clearly because of my disorganized and misplaced teeth. Some of my cousins used to ask why I am like this. I was really sad and used to come to my mom crying. She understood my feelings and tried to talk to my dad about fixing my teeth, but he didn’t listen to my mom. He said that I was too small to get teeth braces or any other procedures. So I had to grow up listening to people talking about my unclear speech behind my back. I did get teeth braces after turning 16. After 2 years of patience, my teeth got fixed, but still, my words remained unclear as my lower jaw is slightly misplaced. I put my heart and soul to fix my speech impediment but still, I feel frustrated and insecure about what people may think about me. But I did try some tips for improving my speech-
1. Try to use small sentences or phrases by breaking up long ones. You can easily speak slowly using small sentences and it’ll be clear.
2. Some mild speech disorders can be treated with speech therapy. I didn’t do therapy because I believe I don’t have a disorder, it’s mainly due to my slightly displaced jaw.
3. Though I didn’t do therapy, I tried some breathing exercises which really helped me.
4. Try not to speak when you are excited or angry as it will make the sentences more unclear and you may become frustrated if anyone asks you to say the words again. Try to make yourself calm before talking to someone in excitement.
How can you help someone with a speech impediment or communication problems?
Resources on Speech Disorders:
The following resources may help those who are seeking more information about speech impediments.
Health Information: Information and statistics on common voice and speech disorders from the NIDCD
Speech Disorders: Information on childhood speech disorders from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Speech, Language, and Swallowing: Resources about speech and language development from the ASHA