The title to this article ‘Verbal Dyspraxia: A Living Hell’ may seem like a bit of an exaggeration; especially if you don’t have it (or not severely at least). Yet for those with severe Verbal Dyspraxia, it can indeed make life a lot more difficult then for those who don’t have it.
We live in a world where talking and communication is everywhere: even in a library! Yet if you have trouble with aspects like the pace you speak, controlling the volume or merely getting the right words in the right order, it can certainly have a major impact on how others treat and view you. Which in my opinion makes Verbal Dyspraxia: A Living Nightmare!
We Live In A World Where The Word Is Mightier Than One’s Action.
In most societies throughout the world, what you say as well as how you say it is what influences the majority of people. How often has one been duped to handing over large sums of money to an unscrupulous character who speaks the right way and says the right thing?
While many of us may believe that we would never fall victim to the scams of a con-artist, the sad truth is that nearly all of us are susceptible to being conned. Anyhow, despite the unfortunate world of confidence trickers, communication itself is a vital key to influencing others. And influencing others is important as it largely determines the quality of our lives.
One example of influence can be seen whenever you enter a new place of work or social group and are wishing to make some friends. How well you are able to speak will play a large role in how you come across to others and as such, who will go out of their way to bond with you. Now imagine trying to form a friendship with someone when you are doing either one or more of the following;
- Speaking either too fast to be understood
- Having a pitch all over the place; one minute it is too high and in within a couple of sentences it has dropped very low
- Getting all your words jumbled up
Now you may happen to have the most charismatic personality or else be the most knowledgeable person in the room yet if you have one or more of the following speech issues, your brilliance may not even influence a single person. I would even go so far as to say that not only might you not leave a positive impact on anyone in the room but you may leave a negative impact instead.
Trying to make friends in a work or social setting is just one example where speech is of vital importance. From how likely we are to get through an interview and get the job we deserve to asking a stranger for the time, for many of us with this type of Dyspraxia, the title of this article ‘Verbal Dyspraxia: A Living Hell’ is quite a true expression..
Those of us with verbal Dyspraxia (especially those who have it severely) tend to struggle with acquiring what we desire from others due to our communication; whether that be romance, friendship or just a favour. Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there either as I probably don’t need to tell you that sadly many people have a predatory nature. I am not referring to sexual predators (though they do of course exist) but bullies; people who they will look out as being weaker or different from them in some way. And if one is, then they will bully them.
Unfortunately in life we teach people how to treat us by the way we act, look but in particular speak. As such if you have issues with your speech then many bullies will see it as a weakness and start to bully you. Which I don’t have to say can make life far more unpleasant and harder than it needs to be,
Verbal Dyspraxia Need Not Be A Living Hell
Having grown up with verbal Dyspraxia (as well as other forms of Dyspraxia) I know all too well the difficulties that this type of Dyspraxia can bring. And unfortunately not everyone will be aware of this type of Dyspraxia and so trying to explain it can be a hard thing; especially when you have Verbal Dyspraxia as well.
Now I will be the first to admit that even I still have verbal Dyspraxia to this day though it is very mild. Yet this wasn’t always the case. As a child, I would regularly speak at a speed which would make it hard for others to understand what I was saying. I would also jumble my words up, either missing out on certain syllables or not putting the words in the right sequence.
So how did I manage to change this? Unfortunately there is no magical secret I applied which completely revolutionised my speech. Instead what I did (through the help of several speech therapists) was to work on changing one aspect of my speech at a time until I finally became more understandable to those around me.
How did I change each bit? Well on selecting a part of my verbal Dyspraxia which I was going to change (say the speed at which I spoke) I would than consciously focus on slowing down what I was saying, One thing which helped me do this was to focus on pronouncing each syllable as I spoke.
Now I didn’t intentionally aim to speak in a slow, robotic manner though at times I’m sure that is how it came out. Instead I just made sure I said each syllable of every word as I said it out loud. Also having a loved one (in my case my mum) who would provide regular feedback on how I spoke also came of help.
Another thing I also did which helped was to read aloud articles in the newspaper to family members, consciously making sure that I was pronouncing each word correctly. By doing this, I was getting into the habit of slowing down when I spoke to others.
I won't lie and say that it did take me quite a while to get to the point where speaking at a normal pace came second nature to me. Yet in the end I did manage to speak at that rate, and have done so pretty much ever since.
The last area which I still struggle with is making sure I put the right words in the correct sequence. Even though I still struggle with this from time to time, it is no longer anywhere near as bad as it used to be.
No matter how bad your Verbal Dyspraxia is, trust me when I say that you can improve your speech, one speaking habit at a time. If you struggle with speaking too loudly (or quietly) focus on improving that part of your speech till you are able to speak normally. Else if you struggle with the pitch and tempo, make a concerted effort to change them as well: by consciously focusing on how you are doing when speaking, asking for feedback, etc.
While you may never improve to the point where you are speaking like a professional orator, you can learn to speak in a way that makes you understandable to others. And trust me when I say that in doing so, others will start to take note and there will be a significant improvement in your relationships and life overall. For we do live in a verbally communicative world.
Anyhow if you like to know more about Dyspraxia, including the strengths of having Dyspraxia, I recommend you read my book ‘Dyspraxia: How To Thrive As An Adult’ by Alex Gadd. You can find that by clicking here.
Else if you would like to be in a group of fellow Dyspraxics and find more information on this disability, then why not join the Dyspraxia Support Group on Facebook.