Feeling Tongue-Tied

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I’ve loved reading books and articles aloud since grade school, where my teachers were impressed by how impeccable my reading and speech patterns were compared to those of my classmates. For the past couple months, however, my reading and speech patterns have been anything but infallible.

It’s one thing for a stroke patient or someone born with a speech impediment to stumble over words or lose their train of thought while reading aloud or engaging in conversation, but I’ve never heard of someone with no speech difficulties at all as a kid suddenly starting to experience them as a young adult–especially someone like me who loves to read and talk about interesting subjects with others. Every time I would read something out loud, I would do so without any issues. My reading pattern was so perfect, I could see myself recording audiobooks! Now, when I read my textbooks for school–even stories for American Lit class!–I find myself either stumbling over my words or saying something completely different. Take this paragraph from James Purdy’s short story “Reaching Rose.”

“Richard was one of the few persons whom Mr. Sendel actually knew any more. Everyone else, somehow, was somebody you talked generalities with, but occasionally he and Richard managed to say some particularity that made up the little there was of meaning.”

Now, take a look at how I read this paragraph.

“Richard was one of the few persons whom Mr. Sendel actually knew any more. Everyone else, somehow, was somebody you talked generalities with, but occasionally he and Richard managed to say some particul- particularity that made up the little there was of meaning.”

Notice that I started reading this paragraph perfectly fine. When I reached the word “particularity,” I unconsciously paused before I could even finish saying the word.

Allow me to move on to a paragraph or two from a 2015 op-ed article from the Sun Sentinel in which the author implores Marco Rubio to resign from the U.S. Senate, since I have to read it for my News and News Reporting class on Tuesday anyhow.

“Rubio has missed more votes than any other senator this year. His seat is regularly empty for floor votes, committee meetings and intelligence briefings. He says he’s MIA from his J-O-B because he finds it frustrating and wants to be president, instead.”

Here’s how I read it.

“Rubio has missed more votes than any other senator this year. His seat is regularly empty for floor votes, committee meetings and intel- intelligence briefings. He says he’s MIA from his G-O-B because he finds it frustrating and wants to be president, instead.”

Again, I paused on the word “intelligence.” And I misspelled “JOB” by replacing “J” with “G,” which was extremely embarrassing because someone who’s so good at spelling even though she never participated in a spelling bee, let alone auditioned for one in 7th Grade, shouldn’t make such a big mistake as misspelling one simple three-letter word.

My anxiety has been somewhat diminished, but the fact I’ve been making speech errors more frequently than I like to seems to be telling me otherwise. It’s making me feel like I should either visit a neurologist to see if my anxiety has caused some damage in the Broca’s area of my brain or undergo speech and language therapy again. But then, my school putting me through speech and language therapy from pre-K to 8th Grade was less about correcting a speech impediment (because I didn’t have one to begin with) and more about improving my social skills.

I believe that this speech problem can be fixed either by myself or with some psychological help, but I’m scared that I’ll talk like Porky Pig for the rest of my life. That wouldn’t sound good for audiobooks, now  would it?

 

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Skylanders and Autism Speaks: An Unholy Union

Looks like I’m not gonna be playing Skylanders, or any game from Activision, anytime soon.

I found out yesterday–on Leap Day, no less–that the Activision brand has teamed up with Autism Speaks for the Light It Up Blue campaign during Autism Awareness Month in April by painting a new set of Skylanders SuperChargers toys in white and blue, the official colors of the infamous autism organization. The Light It Up Blue editions of Splat and Trigger Happy, along their respective vehicles, Splatter Splasher and Gold Rusher, are now available wherever Skylanders toys are sold as part of the campaign.

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A screenshot of the Autism Speaks: Light It Up Blue edition of Splat in Skylanders SuperChargers. Courtesy: IGN

I could care less about the Skylanders franchise because I do not have the console system on which to play the game, but to hear of an alliance between one of the most popular video game companies and an organization that does not support autistic gamers makes me feel like I got stabbed in the chest just inches close to the heart.

Josh Taub, senior vice president of product management at Activision, contradicted himself when announcing the company’s partnership with Autism Speaks on the controversial Light It Up Blue campaign. Taub called autistics superheroes in Activision’s blog post, writing, “Like so many superheroes before them, they are often misunderstood or teased because of their particular abilities. They see the world differently, and even though their surroundings can feel outright hostile to them at times, their very presence makes the world a better place to those special enough to know them and support them.” It’s true, we autistic people do make the world a better place by using the abilities autism gave us to our advantage, but to say something positive about us and then turn around and join a fear-mongering organization in their efforts to further raise awareness and enhance the stigma about our neurology and eliminate us from the face of the earth through eugenics, ABA, and propaganda by painting your Skylanders products in their hospital-esque colors and selling them is beyond my comprehension. I suggest you disassociate your company from Autism Speaks and work with other autism organizations that actually support and work for us.

Autism Speaks, how fucking dare you extend your toxic stronghold of discrimination to the gaming community? There are at least 50% of gamers who are autistic, if not more, and I am one of them. Activision may not be one of the companies I purchase games from, but you still had the audacity to force a gaming company to support your prejudicial campaign by creating “special edition” products in your name. God forbid you do this to SEGA, Square Enix or Nintendo–three major video game companies I love–if you have not done so already. I will raise a lot of hell if you implore them to discriminate against their autistic fans, such as myself, by working with you.

That is a gamer’s promise.