Communication is a basic human need and desire. Successfully interacting with those around us is crucial for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It provides a rich connection to the rest of the world that benefits everyone.
However, imagine you are trying to explain to someone what you need or want, but they cannot comprehend what you are saying - or they refuse to try to understand. But as bad as that is, it could be even worse. Imagine if you were desperately attempting to convey that you were in pain or in danger, but no one cared enough to listen.
No one wants to feel alone or isolated because of circumstances beyond their control. But it can happen when a person knows in their mind what they are trying to say, but they cannot articulate it clearly.
Unfortunately, we live in a fast-paced world with attention spans that are becoming increasingly shorter. For some, it can be jarring when they encounter an individual who requires extra time to express themselves. Many people live their life in a rush and, therefore, believe they have little time to interact with someone who requires a listener to be patient and attentive.
Sadly, the negative reactions of others add unnecessary issues to having a speech disorder. Too often, the public ignores, misjudges, or disrespects a person they perceive as different. They sometimes assume that an individual with a speech challenge does not understand what they are being told. Or they believe that a communication issue indicates the level of someone’s intelligence. But how a person expresses themselves does not necessarily correspond with their ability to comprehend conversation.
When someone refuses to understand and acknowledge the desires and wishes of a person with a speech disorder, it is demeaning. They are showing that, in their opinion, what the individual has to say doesn’t matter. They are making it clear that they do not believe the person is worth the trouble.
So, how do you think it would feel to be treated that way?
Challenges with their speech can influence every part of an individual’s life. It can affect a person’s opportunity to make friends, develop relationships, and participate in activities - including employment.
Fortunately, here at The Meadows, communication issues are not a stumbling block to having a meaningful job. Over the last four decades, we have successfully employed many adults with speech disorders, including some currently working with us.
Through a combination of positive support and encouragement, it is possible for our employees to fully engage in a variety of job tasks no matter what their speech happens to be. Happily, it doesn’t take long before they quickly fit in and become part of our team. And it is rewarding to watch them gain confidence as they master new skills and achieve impressive goals.
These men and women thrive in our organization because we accept them for who they are, which means they are free to communicate in the way that makes them feel most comfortable. That allows them to relax and focus on their work.
Making an effort to understand what an individual is trying to convey is a form of respect. It shows that you are willing to treat them with dignity because you acknowledge their right to express themselves.
To be an inclusive society, we must accept the fact that no matter what type of speech disorder someone has, they deserve to have their thoughts, ideas, and opinions understood and appreciated.
There can be no exceptions.