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When I Accepted My Speech Impediment

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Growing up I had a lot of insecurity about my speech impediment. I got called names like “stupid, “dumb” and “r*tard.” To top things off, I also had a condition called central auditory processing disorder, which made it even harder for me to communicate with other people. Both of these conditions made schoolwork very difficult, and my social life suffered because of the miscommunications that came from not being able to hear properly and not being able to pronounce words correctly.

For a while I started to not speak, because of how uncomfortable it was to hear my speech impediment and how scared I was to be called “stupid.” I would avoid talking while presenting a project. When I could I would try to communicate through email or text message, because then I didn’t have to worry about what other people thought of me or what I thought of myself.

In elementary school, I worked especially hard in speech therapy. By the time I was in middle school, I no longer needed an IEP for my speech impediment. But it wasn’t until I noticed that my eighth grade science teacher had a lisp, that I started to be more accepting of myself. I realized I wasn’t “stupid” for having a hard time pronouncing words or not hearing the right words. I was able to see someone be successful despite their speech impediment. He didn’t care what the kids thought of the way he spoke. His unapologetic lisp gave me the courage to accept the way I talked.

Later on in high school, one of my favorite teachers told a student that it was wrong of them to make fun of the announcer’s accent, because he’s working his butt off trying to communicate with them. I realized that whether it was because of an accent or a speech impediment, what the kids did was wrong. I started to heal inside. I started to talk more freely, because I was no longer afraid.

I am working on getting accommodations for my central auditory processing disorder and other conditions that keep me from doing the best I can with my college work, after having to take a break from college because my mixed connective tissue disease flares made it nearly impossible to pass my classes. Hopefully I can transfer in a few years to a state college. I still have some insecurity from time to time about my speech impediment, but now I socialize and communicate more than I ever have before.

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Thinkstock image by iStock.

Originally published: July 10, 2017
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