We take for granted our ability to say what we want to say when we want to say it.  I still see clients in the Speech and Hearing Clinic and last week, I was reminded once again that we should not take our speech and our ability to communicate for granted. 

One individual I saw with several of my graduate students has had a change in voice that prevents her from communicating well at work.  She does not sound like she used to and has lost her “vocal identity;” her voice is not as recognizable to her friends anymore.  I was able to take some movies of her vocal folds to share with her otolaryngologist so we can develop a treatment plan.

The second client I saw was a teenager who is a severe stutterer.  Following severe stutters, he would bury his head in his hands and cry.  I was heartbroken as I felt how tortured he was by his speech, something that is made worse by the teasing he endures at school by the dominant group of good communicators.     

Over time, both individuals will be able to improve their communication.  As they are helped, students at our college will learn important clinical skills.  For one of the clients, she wishes to regain what she has lost.  For the other client, he wishes to have something he has never had – the fluent speech we take for granted every day.

Having good communication skills is a privilege.  Being part of a dominant group increases responsibility for improving awareness.  We respect our privilege and responsibility by communicating our support for others, by speaking to strengths rather than criticizing weaknesses, by talking about solutions to challenges rather than finding reasons something will not work, and by “seeking to understand before seeking to be understood.”  If each person in the EHHS division did one thing this week to improve communication within his/her area, an increased momentum would be established that would improve our ability to get to the end of the semester.  Please don’t take your communication for granted.  Do something this week and in the coming weeks to honor your communicative gift – hopefully something that will strengthen our community.