August 13 2010

The Speech-ish Inquisition

So when I was a little kid I had some speech problems. There were certain words I would mush up or fumble over or whatever. I didn’t realize that I had a problem– but back in 3rd grade apparently somebody noticed.

Here’s the story:

One day, I was sitting in class spacing out or doodling or whatever when there was knock at the door. Two stranger adults were standing there. A man and a woman. They whispered to the teacher and then the teacher said, ‘Todd. These people would like to talk to you.’ I remember my first thought being, ‘Oh no! I have lice again!’

I go out in the hallway and these two strangers start talking to me. The woman had a real soft soothing voice. The man was kind of aggressive. I had no idea why they wanted to talk to me. The woman would mysteriously write in a clipboard as we spoke…

The conversation went like this:

Woman: Hello Todd. Umm… Tell us what you did this summer.

Me: I went to camp. I played with my friends.

Woman: Played with your… what?

Me: My… friends?

Man: What kind of food to you like?

Me: Umm… I like hot dogs!

Man: Hot… what?

Me: Hot dogs. Hot dogs are good!

Man: Say that again.

Me: Hot dogs.

Man: Hot dogs are…

Me: … good.

Woman: Say it all together.

Me: It all together.

Man: No say, Hot dogs are good. All together.

Me: Hot dogs are good. All together.

Woman: Once more.

Me: Hot dogs are good. All together.

(Now I’m freaking out thinking there’s something wrong with hot dogs being good all together and I’m admitting it on the spot! And she’s writing it down!)

Woman: Tell us… what else is good.

Me: Umm… Lemonade?

Man: Say lemonade again.

Me: Lemonade.

Woman: Do you think lemonade is.. delicious?

Me: Yes.

Man: Say it.

Me: Lemonade is delicious.

(Now feeling like I might cry…)

Woman: And what’s 10+2?

Me: Twelve.

Stranger Woman: And… What’s 9+3?

Me: Eleven? No twelve!

It was like an insanely random conversation. Especially one to be have been yanked out of class for with two absolute stranger adults. My answers seemed important too. And then I was sent back to class with zero explanation as to the purpose of the conversation. I remember sitting in class and replaying the conversation in my head wondering what I was in trouble for and what I admitted to– and wishing I had just had lice again.


Anyway, apparently I flunked their speech test and was assigned to go to ‘Speech Class’ from like 11-12AM every day. I remember going there and nothing was going on in that class. For the most part the class was made up of kids who I’d never seen before and didn’t seem to be in any ‘grade’ at all. If you catch my meaning. We sat around playing Chutes and Ladders and Candyland while the ‘teachers’ did nothing.

Once in a while, we’d all pile into a van and go to McDonalds which was ammmaazzzingg. I’d get back to regular class and be like, ‘I just went to McDonalds!’ All the kids would be like, “No way!” I’d be like, ‘Speech class is the best!’

Of course, when I told my parents ‘Speech’ was all about Chutes and Ladders and going to McDonalds they were thinking they might need to step in. They sent me to some private speech tutor or whatever to fix stuff. The tutor didn’t think I had a real problem or whatever..

Anyway, as an adult I still have some speech issues. There are certain words like ‘peculiar’ that I need to skip in my head because I know I’ll get tangled on em if I try it out loud. Probably a half-dozen words that I’ll never say… unless I’m referencing how I can’t say em. And that was that with that.

ok bye!

(ok what?)

ok… bye?



Anonymous says:


g says:

awesome story! I had the same kind of thing around that same age, but we actually did stuff on our speech class, no mcdonalds for us. I know the one word i cad trouble with was “cousin” i think i said it as “cousant”

S says:

Brilliant. Thanks for this, you made my day.

suzie says:

It’s such a shame that kids who really need some extra help are pulled out of regular instruction to go to a “special” class that are so often attended by neglectful “teachers”. Because they are not general ed classrooms, they are sometimes not monitored by adminsitrators and a whole lot of nothing gets done for the kids who need it most. I teach at a school where our specialists do virutally nothing but McDonalds trips and homework time for the kids who need help the most. It’s frustrating because the administration just lets it go on.

Anonymous says:

I had basically the same thing as a kid because my handwriting was terrible. I got to get out of class and hang out in the gym, supposedly for hand eye coordination stuff.

Didn’t seem to make a difference as my handwriting is awful, but my printing is really good. I get told I write like a girl, because it’s so neat.

I have no idea where this is going…

Kristy says:

The same thing happened to me (almost). In like 2nd or 3rd grade, I had trouble with my S’s. I guess I lisped a little or something. One day some really tall lady in a long skirt pulled me out of class and kneeled in front of me (so she was on my level) with her clip board and made me say “See the silly snake swim” and variations of that over and over. In the end, it was decided that I did NOT need speech class. Which I was pretty bummed over b/c the speech class kids got to leave every Thursday after lunch for like an hour (during math!) and always came back with some awesome project. Like one time they came back with some green clay/ooze stuff they had MADE and all the other (including me) were jealous and trying to play with it and stuff. I don’t think I have a lisp anymore, but neither do I have fun memories of secret ‘speech class’ art projects making enviable green oozy clay toys.

Mike Anthony says:

TODD : what are the half dozen words you skip? One i always have to be ready for is “statistics”….

Alex says:

I had to go to speech class as a kid too. 2nd grade. I used to say L’s and R’s as W’s (wowwy pop, wabbit). I don’t remember the people with clipboard, but I remember my parents asking me to say rabbit and lollipop and soon after I was in speech class. We actually did stuff in class also, and no trips for us. There were only a few other kids there – I didn’t know any of them. I hated missing out on what everyone else was doing in class for an hour while I had to sit around in speech class. Nobody ever made fun of me for it or anything though.
I was so happy when I was done. I remember the speech teacher saying something like “we should work on your S’s too”. But I wouldn’t have it, I’m just here for R’s and L’s, nobody said nothing about no S’s! I dunno what that was about, but nobody’s mentioned that I have weird S’s since.

Z says:

I like how your automatic reply was, “Do I have lice again?”

Yeah, I can see how that would be a little freaky to a kid to have that inquisition and no explanation. Poor Odd tOddy, thinking and wondering with no explanation.

the REAL weeze says:


Rae says:

I had to go to speech class when I was little. For… screaming. Something to do with messing up my vocal cords if I kept sreaming the way I did. (Which, by the way, was while outside running around like ALL THE OTHER KIDS!) They “taught” me how to communicate without raising my voice. We actually did worksheets and stuff, and I remember the lighting in the room being very dim. I was so glad to eventually “graduate” from there. And today? I still shout when I need to.

KelBel says:

specific was a word I couldnt say for the longest time. I would just say pacific.

Anny says:

Great post Todd. So funny the way the mind of a child works and how oblivious adults can be to it.

Nikos says:

I cured my own speech impediment by myself to avoid having to go to speech therapy. Most degrading experience of my life.

Anonymous says:

I guess I should say thanks to Mrs. Bubb, my speech therapist when I was in K and 1st grades. We played specialized board games (the “make learning fun” types of games), she helped correct my problem and I never felt like anything was wrong with me. Thanks, Mrs. Bubb!

Amy says:

This may be the moist funniest post ever

Amy says:

MOST!!! LOL!!!

WTF?!?!?!?! says:

MOIST?!??!? Hahahahaha!!!!

WTF?!?!?!?! says:

Also, this post explains….. so much.

Nicol says:

I’m just here for R’s and L’s. Nobody said nothing about no S’s. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!!!!

Sassy says:

Such a special and brilliantly written post!

S. S.

Chey says:

I got flagged as supposedly having a speech impediment, too. I stuttered pretty bad and tended to mumble out of shyness. A middle school teacher made me see a speech therapist who basically asked me to say a bunch of different words. It took like ten minutes. I said them all normally (since saying one word at a time was ridiculously easy. I stumbled during sentences but they never asked me about sentences…), was apparently judged normal, and nothing more came of it. The stupid thing was that I still had a legitimate stutter problem that I ended up having to work out myself because the speech therapist didn’t catch it. >.<

Alan Lau says:

saying the word “statistics” is a bitch for me too. I didn’t like the math class of the same name much, either.

anonymous says:

Great story.

Zorgon says:

Wow….That was pretty odd. But worth it for some in-school trips to McDonalds. It’s like in 8th grade when everybody unable to get an elective was stuck in a “Learning Strategies” class where the teacher was told to teach whatever he wanted. We did stuff like board games.

katie says:

i was in speech therapy too, starting in grade one. i remember having to say “stove” over and over…

Rod says:

Interesting story, Todd…
I had a speech impediment when I was young, and attended therapy for about 8 years. However, for me therapy was real and intense. Apparently, my parents never noticed my issues as they just got used to the way I talked. But starting 1st grade it became an issue. The nun who taught 1st grade wanted to hold me back due to my speech issues, but my parents wouldn’t let her.

I took therapy at Tulane University’s speech dept all through elementary school. They would record my speech and play it back for me so I could hear what I sounded like and so they could track my improvement. I remember the first therapist was a young lady, probably a student. One day we had a review with (I guess) her supervisor and I went through the things we were working on…the guy looked at the young lady and said ‘you realize, this child is a failure’. I was assigned to another, more experienced therapist, and only saw the young lady once more in the hall. I remember greeting her cheerfully, because she was pretty and I liked her. She did not respond and had a frown on her face upon seeing me. At the time, I did not understand, but I figure that she was unhappy about the review.

Really, I was a bad case and should not have been assigned to a student. It took years to mostly overcome my issues, and the fact that I was teased unmercifully for years at school did not help.

What caught my attention was Todd mentioning the word ‘peculiar’ as that is a word I still avoid some 35 years later. Also, I have a hard time listening to myself (or recording) on tape/video or phone messages as I still find myself catching my verbal mistakes.

Interesting post, Todd…

Bean says:

Never had to go to speech class but I’m 30 and have trouble saying the following: stethoscope and Roy. I’m not a doctor, nor do I hang out with rednecks so it’s really not that big a deal.

-DJ- says:

A midnight run to Micky D’s!! LOLpalooza!

Andre Reshid says:

Iā€™d come to agree with you here. Which is not something I typically do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

Have a website? Wanna be featured below? Send me a banner 364x40! 100% Free!