Growing up I was different, but I didn't realize it till my early teen years. My first realization came when I moved to a new school after my dad's work relocated us to the low country of SC. When a fellow middle school student asked me why I talked differently, I wasn't sure how to respond. I didn't know I talked any differently, so later that day, I found a tape recorder and listened to my voice for the first time. It was surreal to be in the position of someone listening to myself. I was different! I didn't know how I had become different, but the overwhelming insistence and urge to correct this issue came at me intensely.
Throughout the next several years, for hours I would sit with a tape recorder trying to change how I sounded, but nothing worked. This went on for years, and I began to think it was something that would never be changed.
After my freshman year of college, several speech teachers encouraged me to seek out help, so I wrote this letter to my school's speech therapist who was returning the next year after working on her masters at another university. Mrs. Meadows wrote me back, and we set an appointment for my first lesson, the morning of September 24, 1991.
Through a series of tests, she determined I had a lateral lisp when pronouncing words with an "s." She told me my tongue was staying flat and not coming up to the tip of the teeth like it should to form a correct "s."She had me form a "t" to kinesthetically understand the curvature and placement of the tongue and how far up the tongue should be coming. Then she had me prounounce a "t" and transition that sound into an "s" sound. VUALA! I could tell the difference!
I left Mrs. Meadow's office with more drive than ever. I knew what the problem was, I knew how to fix it and with every ounce of determination, I was going to overcome this barrier of difference! Literally, for the rest of the day, I practiced the transition from a "t" to an "s" sound repeatedly. Over and over I would form it. Then I started transitioning into words with an "s."
I t w a s l i k e I w a s l e a r n i n g h o w t o t a l k a g a i n!
I was hesitant in speaking, wanting to make sure I was pronouncing any "s" correctly. The more I talked, the more confidence I gained in my pronunciations. Wednesday, my words became more natural, less hesitant, more sure. I was starting to experience a naturalness with this new way of speaking that excited and invigorated me.
On Thursday, I came back for my second lesson We talked, and I explained to her my practice. She took out the same test she had given me on Tuesday and administered it again. On the first test, beside each word was a minus symbol signifying an incorrect pronunciation. After the second round of testing, Mrs. Meadows looked at me, smiled and said, "Kitty, I think you're cured! You're my miracle student!" Every word had a + symbol beside it. I had 100% accuracy!
"What?" I thought. "Really? It was that easy? No, surely there was something else I had to do!" What I wasn't remembering were those repeated hours of failure that built the fire of determination to "fix" the problem once I finally knew how to.
With a ton of determination and the help of a very gracious speech therapist, I overcame my speech issue! She had me come back a couple more times to make sure I didn't "relapse," but it was quickly apparent I was done with the issue of a lisp!
Over five years later, Mrs. Meadows sent me all my paperwork and the letter I had sent her back in college. She enclosed this kind note reminding me of all we had been through.
Would I have been as effective a verbal communicator today if I hadn't found a way to solve my speech issues? I'm not sure, but here's to over 20 years of being lisp free! Thank you Katie, and most of all, thank you Jesus for providing a way to overcome something that seemed impossible to achieve!!!