I have always hated speaking. It’s fine if I am amongst friends and people I trust. But put me in front of strangers then it becomes a completely different ballgame. I have to find ways to get through it. Ways to avoid tripping over words. Trying to stop the stammering returning. Public speaking becomes a mechanical task which needs a process. I significantly cut down my vocabulary range. I never use a planned written speech (I just can’t find any rhythm when I’m speaking from prepared text – I even struggle to read a book aloud). I plan and memorise the first two lines that I will say. I work out exactly how I am going to greet someone. I never make direct eye contact, rather I tend to look at eyebrows or foreheads. Even then it’s a bit of a lottery. I’ve delivered a perfect conference speech to 500 yet completely collapsed in front of just 2 people. I guess the secret is to try forget about the inevitable mistakes or just smile at them.

I remember speaking to the medic who mentioned the word Aspergers first in connection with our Son. She was an autism expert – one of only two we have ever met, which is kinda scary. Anyway I remember her saying something like

I suspected that he was on the spectrum almost immediately. It was the way he walked into the room. They way he struggled to sit and make eye contact. He confirmed my diagnosis as soon as I heard him SPEAK.

Son was very like me in that he started to talk pretty late as a toddler. As soon as he did start talking then his vocabulary rapidly expanded. At nursery he was absolutely flying with his speech. But then at about the age of 5 he started to struggle with a number of factors

  • His speech suddenly become extremely monotone,
  • He would either speak far too quietly or far too loudly,
  • He struggled to pronounce many sounds correctly,
  • He would always get the use of plurals wrong,
  • He was definitely using language which was well beyond his age.

The final one was not a problem but it did lead to some amusing incidents. In his first year at school the class was about to start a series of lessons trying to teach the kids about animals eventually after a number of weeks leading to touching on evolution. Within a couple of minutes of the first lesson our boy put his hand up and then proceeded to explain evolutionary theory to the class. The lovely teacher said she had to later go and look up some of the terminology he had used.

But as the months went on his speech issues became more pronounced. Eventually his Aspergers Expert managed to arrange speech therapy for him. Slowly the therapy started to work. Certainly his pronunciation and his control of his voice levels improved. Unfortunately after 6 months the speech service was cut by the Government to save money. It’s never restarted. The therapist gave us a number of exercises to practice but did leave us with a message

Constant practice will help manage any speech issue but they won’t solve them in your son’s case. They will be underlying for the rest of his life. They may become more pronounced as he gets older. He needs to develop his own way of coping with that.

That’s where we are today. He still can’t get his head around plurals. He is still struggling to pronounce certain sounds. No help is available for him. But rather than trying to cope with the issues, it’s more about him developing his own unique communication style. One which suits his personality. That approach I’m pleased to say is working. The other key thing is to stress that we all struggle with speaking at some stage. It’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s who we are. It what makes us unique.

Son always likes to hear one of my most embarrassing speech incidents. I have a niece who when she was very young would not say big or large, rather she would have to say really really REALLY big. That was pronounced wheelie wheelie WHEELIE big. Anyway many years ago I was delivering the organisation’s annual report to The Council. Representative of the Government was there as was the local press. Talking about the financial position I meant to say

In terms of of our Operational Budget and our Tax Revenues we have a significant underspend.

Unfortunately that was delivered by this prize muppet as

In terms of of our Operational Budget and our Tax Revenues we have a wheelie wheelie wheelie WHEELIE big underspend.

Not sure that key message was delivered with quite the gravitas I was hoping for. Still at least we can laugh about that now….

87 thoughts on “Speaking

  1. I hate speaking too, as I’ve been left with a horrible croaky voice after treatment for thyroid cancer. I hate the voice I’ve been left with, but it’s all there is and I can’t read aloud to my grandchildren. C’est la vie.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I have to do PA’s at work about social distancing. Every 1/2 hour on the days I am in CS. I have to face the wall and lean against the door frame looking into the smoke shop. I have several tongue twisters to say.
    Shobeys instead of Sobeys.-sounded like I had stepped out for a drink or two on my lunch hour. It was 8 a.m.
    Steinbach Sobeys Shoppers-try saying that 5x fast
    Words that do not make any sense at all in the context of the sentence is forever coming out of my mouth. I just laugh. My audience is similar to yours only I see them stretched out over the course of 8 hours instead of the 10-15 min I am assuming your speech would take.
    I hope that I have at least put a smile on your face. Have a good afternoon. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Gary.

    To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.

    Tony Robbins

    I think all of us have misspoken, mispronounced, used the wrong words or in other ways mangled our message. Congratulations to your son for being willing to work on getting better. Far too many take not being able to speak well as a badge of honor. Best wishes. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello Gary. I agree. I had hoped that with diversity gaining more ground that parents wouldn’t teach kid that different is wrong or bad. Young people have so much to worry about they don’t need unwarranted unneeded stress of being picked on for being different than the group. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The last incident brought a huge smile to my face.
    You’re soon is coping and that is wonderful. I think every child has some learning issues and with time and patience they can overcome them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Even though I’m kind of a word nerd and the thesaurus is my friend, my swiss cheese memory often fails me. I forget the simplest words and wind up trying to explain a simple concept with more and more confusion. Hand gestures, lots of “ummm” and “that thing” until I just say nevermind and walk away.
    It happens to lots of people. I hope that as Son gets older he’ll be less embarrassed and realize it happens to all of us

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can relate to your social problem. I must come off as such a snob because I don’t talk when I am around others or in a group. And I don’t because I can’t. Same thing – I rehearse what I am going to say and that is all that will come out. Just too hard.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It is going okay. I am running a lot less and am fine with it. These days 4 miles suffice (and they are way harder than they should be). I would like to get back on track but I guess that is what we are all waiting for. How is your running going?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Doesn’t this happen to the best of us? Just a bit unfavorable when the press is listening… I don’t like speaking in front of an audition either. But I lost a lot of my inhibition when I had my lectures and workshops, my book presentations, or when I was the show master at an event. Still, I rather sing in front of people than I speak!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Then there’s the…”just imagine your audience in their underwear” trick. It never worked for me but…there it is.

    If I KNOW my topic well, I can share information with one person or a roomful. That would be a natural movement. Reading from a prepared speech, I would wind up stuttering over words as they weren’t mine, organically.

    I struggle the most with telling a joke. I will f*** that right on up. I’m better with sarcastic one-liners.

    Bless Donald. His struggle reminds me of the video filmed by Remy Zero “Save Me” where the guy is walking forwards and everyone else is walking backwards:

    Like

  9. The last team I worked with would have LOVED that!

    My neighbor speaks a lot of Spanglish, which amuses me as I catch the pattern of which words are most commonly mixed (“pero” instead of “but”, which is common is a lot of native Spanish speakers)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My vietnamese coworkers were fun as we mimed some troubling word. And I had an old, Greek, neighbor who must have learned English by repeating things cause at 88 she still did it… saying everything a 1/2 second after I did. Everyone has a thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lol.. back in the days of (Princess?) Fergie, the Royal Navy was in town and I took several guys out for a night on the town. I’m great with accents but couldn’t understand 90% of what one guy (Scottish?) said. But I didn’t care cause he and his accent were sexy.

        Highlight of their night was when they started to jaywalk/cross Hollywood Blvd and I stopped them because they could be ticketed. As soon as we crossed, legally, a motorcycle cop flashed his lights and stopped us. I was freaking out – I knew we hadn’t done anything! Turned out the cop wanted a pic with them (they were in uniform)!!! They were thrilled to have met a CHiP officer (he wasn’t one but I didn’t them). Fun night!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I love how you use your own stories to help your son. I thought I had gotten over my fear of public speaking but during my brothers funeral as I was giving the eulogy I was literally shaking from head to toes. My whole body was trembling, so much so my niece stood up to anchor me. It helped a little but the shaking didn’t stop until I sat down and for a few minutes after that.

    Most people have trouble with speaking in front of others, especially outside their comfort level. I think it’s very wise to let your son find his own way. After all no matter how much we love another we cannot feel what they feel. Kudos to you for being sensitive to his needs.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lol… I totally understand hating speaking. Speaking and writing are totally different things, but sometimes people are surprised when they actually converse with me for the first time if we met online. I can be very quite, and I’m really self conscious about tripping over my words, though continuously writing has helped me in wheelie wheelie big ways. Lol. I think it’s re-wiring my brain.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. There was a time in my accounting career that I had to make a monthly financial presentation to the Board of Directors, a group of 15 stodgy old men who had a vested interest in the company, but were only seen once a month. I stutter when I speak to strangers. Though I was good at my job, knew my numbers and the reasons for them like the back of my hand, it was painful to get out a 15-minute presentation. Finally, one board member took me aside and kindly said, “Jill, honey, when you look at all us old men, just remember that we all put our pants on the same way every morning. When you look at us, try to picture us naked, struggling to pull up those pants.” I still stuttered, but every time I made eye contact with that board member, I grinned. That said … some of us communicate better in writing than in person, and I think that in today’s age of electronic communication that is even more the case. All I can say is hang in, my friend … you are doing everything you can for your son and someday it is going to pay off in spades. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I remember a friend of mine who taught himself to be a fantastic conference speaker. His technique was to imagine the audience naked. It worked perfectly until one day a girl who he secretly fancied sat on the front row. He went to pieces as he kept looking at her and imagining …..

      Liked by 1 person

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