Friday, 24 July 2015

Childhood Speech Impediment, Maybe?

I have already described two minor problems of my childhood, colour blindness and short sightedness, and now for the third and final problem, which was many people could not understand what I said.

My older brother said I did not talk until I was two, and since then I have never stopped.

No one in the family seemed to have any problems in understanding me, nor Ricky my pal from across the street who was just two and half weeks older than me. So all was well until I went to school.

I was quite keen to learn and shine at school when five years old and so was often the first to shoot up a hand to answer teacher's question. If the teacher chose me I would immediately give the answer and the teacher would then ask Ricky what had I said and he would tell her. Now the only problem to me was I had to wait a bit longer for the teacher's response, praise or correction.

Things must have been worse than I realised because suddenly I was being taken to a speech clinic on Friday afternoons. Now this did bother me, Friday afternoon at our school was play time, you were given access to a cupboard full of toys and you chose whatever you liked. I had to go with mum, catch the bus and go to this mysterious place in Solihull.The clinician decided the root of my problem were my tonsils and the solution was to have them cut out.

I remember a lot about my stay in the children's hospital. First night two of the bigger boys got us all to bang on our bedside cupboard and shout until we saw the door being opened and then to pretend to be asleep before the nurse walked into the ward.

The day of the operation I was put into a white shroud, a "tea-strainer" placed over my nose and mouth and told to count to ten. I managed to get to seven. But I also remember waking up in a "kitchen" lying on the "table" with people in white coats all around me. On went the "tea-strainer" again and I was told to breath in and out a couple of times. I woke up with a sore throat, but this meant I qualified for ice cream meals for the next 24 hours.

Afterwards I still had to go to the speech clinic but Solihull told us that there was a new one opened in Shirley which we now were to go to. So off we went a week later. I was handed a book and told to read what I could from the page. I can see the scene plainly today 63 years later. He said "Nothing wrong with you, you just talk too quick. No need to come again."

I cannot recall any problems since with people misunderstanding me. Most of my working years were with IBM, first as a systems engineer and then a salesman, both involved giving countless talks and presentations and no one complained.

The closest was when I was in hall in the second year of university. Around the table were people from all around the country, Yorkshire, Geordies, Londoners, Welsh and others. I commented that I was the only one without an accent. I was quickly corrected and told that I had the strongest accent of all being a brumie.

So of my three childhood problems, allthough problem is really too negative and strong a word, this one was false, short sight was corrected as a result of cataracts at an older age so only colour blindness remains. This is common in many people, especially males, so really I have nothing to complain about.

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