Speech

Updated: Jan 16

Various accounts of difficulties with speech from people on the Autistic Spectrum.


"I saw a Speech and Language Therapist from age 4 of diagnosis to around age 11. Then, I continued to attend group SALT sessions with a few others in my class. SALT, for me, also included stuff on identifying emotions in pictures and widening vocabulary, and at a young age, it was practising my sign language as an alternative communication. I don't remember too much of this apart from her saying the first sound of words and I said the first sound, then struggled with the rest of the word, although I could 'say' it well in my head. I know when I was just learning to say words properly, I used to talk a lot with just sounds and nobody could understand me, my mum told me that. I guess the same as a toddler learning to talk, except I was seven. " - SM

"I know presently I still have troubles sometimes. I sometimes mumble, especially when I'm not fully comfortable with what I'm saying, or am not fully sure of it.  Also I have trouble pronouncing words sometimes.  I am not so great at reading out loud sometimes and feel like my speech is all over the place and varying tones and pitches and sounds so horrible. I think sometimes I am also in a hurry to say something and I mush words together or skip a word, or use the wrong word.  Sometimes it happens when I'm starting to think of something else I want to say as I'm currently speaking." - Heather

"What was picked up on was that I had a very wide vocabulary for my age, and I think I learnt to read very early. I was extremely shy, aloof and withdrawn. I find it very hard to talk for long periods of time, and I find it takes a lot of energy and it's so much easier not to talk and let others do the talking.


I have problems organising my thoughts when I speak, and tend to say things all jumbled up and in the wrong order. Others have told me that I have a flat monotone voice, and that I talk too quietly. When I speak in a conversation, others don't hear me or don't understand me, and ignore me.


Sometimes I can't get my words out. I either can't think of the word I need - it doesn't come to me, particularly in times of stress or panic." - Nesf

"I hate using the phone, but if I have managed to gather enough courage to do it, and then I get an answering phone, I just hang up quickly. Then if I actually do need to speak to them/let them know something, I will call back and have prepared what to say on the answering machine, but I usually get it completely wrong, and then feel annoyed. Or, they'll answer this time and I was just expecting it to ring until the voice message thingy so I still panic and get it wrong!


I also have a nervous stutter, I just get stuck on a word and I'll repeat the first letter or sound over and over. It's not always the same sounding words either, it seems to be random. I try to think of another word that means the same, but then I end up going silent for a while whilst my brain stutters over words that I could use instead! In general when I'm nervous I don't manage to get out all the words I'm supposed to say and I end up sounding really unintelligent or childish. On the subject of childish, when I'm distressed I tend to revert to a childish manner of speaking, both in tone and use of words, and will tend to talk much faster and jumble words together so that it doesn't make sense." - Willow

"I never had much trouble speaking, but I don't especially like to hear myself.  I HATE leaving messages on answer machines and feel very self conscious.  I am okay at talking on the phone these days, although I don't tend to do it at home, because I've had to do it so much at work all these years. I do admit to forcing myself to talk to people though.  If I'm out I make sure I try to speak to at least a few people, even if it's just the person on the till or whatever." - mary


 "I have had a stutter my whole life and certain words are difficult for me to say, for example words that begin with "d" or "b". I will often pause in the middle of conversations because I can't physically say the word. I developed a method over the years where I think of alternative words (with the same meaning) to say instead. I have never known what to say to people and I am terrible when it comes to idle chit chat. It usually just creates an awkward kind of mood between me and the other person although that being said people don't really ever know what to say to me either because I'm not really what you would call a typical 28 year old." - Richard

"When I am nervous, or a bit unsure with what I'm saying, I just start to stutter and I find that extremely disconcerting for me. I also find that my brain can't keep up with me talking and it can sometimes go blank and I just start rambling or just stop mid-sentence. I've had some periods of muteness where I can't get any words out at all. My tone of speech is very weird and my voice can be rather flat sometimes. I don't particularly like speaking, and if I do have to speak, I like to plan everything out clearly in my head, or sometimes on paper." - awesomeliza

"I sometimes stutter and often get words mixed up or make false starts. It feels like the connection between my brain and mouth glitches out quite often so while I know exactly what I want to say in my head the words come out like vomit instead." - null

"I learnt to speak at a typical age but I had considerable problems pronouncing certain sounds. I had quite a bit of speech therapy as a result, but was terrified of the microphone and tape recorder so they could never get me to say anything at all until I had played in the sandpit.


My voice is really monotonous and I have to pause a lot to arrange my thoughts into something coherent. I used to find that other people would always interrupt during the pauses and I'd lose my train of thought and find it really hard to get back into a conversation. So I ended up talking ever faster to try and stop people butting in. Then I ran into the sort of problems several other people have mentioned of stuttering, getting the order of words mixed up or using words that weren't actually the ones I'd intended to use. Now I'm trying to learn to slow down again and just live with the problem of forever being interrupted." - storm-petrel

"My speech was delayed and my first words didn't appear until I was around two and a half, I didn't learn how to walk until around that age, too and I always used pointing gestures at things I wanted, and when I was learning to talk, I always copied what people said to me and say it back to them, quite persistently. With telephone calls I just let it ring out and don't pick up, but when I have to use the telephone or when it's pushed on to me to speak to someone, the entirety of the conversation is more one-sided as I tend to remain quiet, I go mute.

I at times will say sentences and mix up a word in a sentence with a word at the end of the sentence as an example, I would say things like, "Put that down card", where I mean "Put that card down" I find myself saying 'pacific' instead of 'specific' which is the word I intend to use, and I struggle greatly with speech, especially more so within social conversations both online and offline. It's more so being expected to speak within an instant or given a limited time to answer a question that I tend to withdraw on speech." - ninagreenhalghxo



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