As a child, I spent many years in speech therapy. Because of my hearing loss, I had a very hard time with consonants (C, CH, SH, T, TH, etc.). I also spoke very fast and very softly. Understanding me was very frustrating, but it was also frustrating for me because it was such a struggle to be understood. Other kids made fun of me. Adults yelled at me.
It took many years of therapy and hard work to stop getting “Why do you talk funny?” or for people to more or less stop asking me where my accent is from. I also stopped getting “What?” over and over in conversations. While most of it was due to the speech therapy, I think a lot of it had to do with hanging out with people who knew me well enough to know about my hearing loss and had gotten used to how I speak.
Recently, I moved back to my home state of Colorado and started making new friends at the church my fiance and I go to. These people are very nice, but they don’t know me very well, so they aren’t that familiar with how I talk. Over time, I started noticing that I’ve been getting “What?” in response to things I said, and it was happening at an annoying regularity.
My mom is also hard of hearing, but she has mentioned that she has a hard time hearing me. At one point, she suggested that maybe I was regressing back to my pre-speech therapy days. I shrugged it off at first, but the more people said “What?” and the more I had to repeat myself in conversations, the more I began to wonder if maybe my mom was right.
In a discussion about it last night, my mom told me that perhaps I have gotten lazy. Not on purpose, really. I just have gotten so used to no one saying anything to correct me, I guess I assumed I was doing just fine and stopped trying as hard to make sure I was speaking correctly. This laziness (for the lack of a better term) means that I forget everything I was taught when I speak too fast, so my speech becomes garbled and (as my mother put it) mushy.
I was trying to ask my mom about moving the dresser in the garage the other day, and she looked at me funny, having no idea what I was talking about. “What’s a resser?” I had to repeat myself several times before she realized I was talking about a “Dresser”. Though I was saying, “Dresser”, I wasn’t putting enough emphasis on the D, thus the D was nearly lost entirely.
The realization that I am regressing is depressing and frustrating. I hate being misunderstood or having to repeat myself to others all the time, especially when I worked so hard to be understood as a child.
I tried looking up information about speech therapy regression in adults, but I couldn’t find anything that didn’t reference autism or adults who become hard of hearing as adults, not as children. I tried a few different search terms, but came up with nothing.
I don’t want to have to go back to speech therapy and deal with the annoyance and embarrassment of it all. I’m hoping that reminding myself to slow down and focus on what I am saying will help.