1 of the girls who helps me (Angie) has a toddler who has been around me since he was 9 months old, so we’ve developed our speech together. He loves to help me, asks me to play w/him, & talks with me all the time. (In fact, I absolutely love how when he arrives, if he’s feeling “chatty,” he tells me all about his weekend, about his new favorite toy, or whatever he’s currently excited about!)
A few weeks ago (before Easter), he went up the “alligator” (elevator) with me. Upon our arrival upstairs, he noticed no one was there, so he asked me to go back downstairs with him, to his mom, but I said no, so he begged “please”. I again said “no, but u can go down by yourself”, which he started to do, when his mom arrived. How fun to be understood by a toddler! Though I’m fine if I’m not understood—then I just try new ways to say something similar, but even if that doesn’t work, I’m ok. I think that since my stroke occurred so many years ago, I kinda’ expect to not be understood, so it’s a bonus if I AM understood! 1 of the girls who helps me doesn’t even know ASL, & I’ve had friends offer to learn, but I’ve told them to not learn, so I can force myself to talk. (I just write on my boogieboard if i can’t get it out, if i care for them to know what i said!) My goal is for ASL to be handy, but unnecessary.
Angie & my daughter, Sophia, have always had a knack for understanding me, but more & more people are understanding me now. On April 6, a friend (who hasn’t seen me in awhile) came by my house, & I didn’t have to sign once for her! In February, I saw a college friend (who has seen me since my stroke, but it has been years), & she understood almost everything I said! I’ve also held conversations with the kid’s piano teacher, tutor, & my PT (horse therapist). My kids have become quite skilled at understanding my jibberish,& if mk doesn’t hear me, they translate…& I love being able to ask how they are, & have them respond—whether or not we are in the same room!
I wish I could say it’s like that all the time…I do speak a lot more most days now, (guessing I speak 70% of most days), but i have had hard speaking days as well where I sign more (like I may only speak 20% of the day). The day my friend came over, I talked awesome, so I spoke like 97% of the rest of the day, but until she came, I’d hardly been spoken to, so I didn’t realize it was such a great speaking day!
My speech can vary for many reasons:
1. If I’m in my home, I usually am able to speak more loudly, & clearly… Not as much out & about! I don’t know why, but I’m louder the more familiar the place is, & if I’ve been talking & “warmed up” my voice.
2. Some days it’s just hard to vocalize. & I give in & sign w/my family, because I’m guaranteed to be understood the 1st time I say it, & with my family, signing is faster than speaking on those days!
3. Other days, if I have mucous blocking me, I can’t speak, but after I cough or clear my throat, I speake just fine. The trick is waiting for that to happen—it can take hours! (Sometimes I just keep trying to scream “Ah!” until the phlegm loosens!)
4. Some days I’m too tired, sad, mad, or too lazy to put forth the effort to speak. I also don’t seem as clear then. I’ve been compared to Chewbacca, the teacher on Charlie Brown…
5. My father-in-law would say I speak better the better food is…I don’t know about that, though food is 1 of my few pleasures in life, & I do speak better if I relax & don’t think, & better food can help achieve that sometimes
6. My father-in-law would also say if I’m mad I speak louder & clearer. That I believe, cuz I take in more air, I don’t think too hard, yet think enough to try to be clear enough to make my point be understood (& if my kids claim to not understand me, I usually know if they did, but just don’t like what they heard!)
I’m sure I’m forgetting more things…