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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Prosody is contagious?

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[Ref 1 Prosody = the pitch and cadence of speech, also tone or volume for current purposes. Many autistic children, including mine, have speech patterns that distinguish them from other disabilities.]

It is my nature to be annoyed. The list of petty annoyances is long and continues to grow. One ongoing annoyance is when someone telephones and begins gabbling away with a thick incomprehensible American accent. They do this because they have mistaken me for my daughter. These youthful chums are taken aback to learn that I am ‘the mother’ because we ‘sound the same.’ Whilst I would like to ‘spit blood’ in response, I am incapable at the moment, due to the jaw surgery. There again I can’t answer the phone either, which is equally as annoying.

Very occasionally I will hear my own voice, perhaps after we have used the videotape on the children. I find it disconcerting, as it doesn’t sound like me at all. I wonder how many people are familiar with how their own voice sound, as if one were an external listener? But I digress.

I attempt to speak the Queen’s English with a huge plastic splint in my mouth. I sound…..weird , even to my own ears. My BBC accent has morphed into a slurred, drunken dialect of unknown origin.

I have a stack of library books on the dining room table, in an attempt to resume ‘business as usual.’ Because the cuisine on offer is not to my children’s taste, I lure them to the dining room table with the bribe of stories. I ignore the little voice pricking my rules of decorum, because everyone knows that to read at the dining table, is the very height of bad manners.

I attempt careful articulation with lips that are numb and pins and needles fluttering over my face. Clarity of speech is essential or I will have to repeat myself, which may be more than I can currently endure.

I avoid the tactile books as there are only so many issues that I can deal with at one time. [translation = the books that have texture, are part of junior's 'sensory diet' but generally provoke meltdowns unless carefully choreographed.]

It is more of a picture book, which means fewer words and lots of attractive illustrations. I read slowly, with careful annunciation, which still sounds as if I have a mouthful of marbles. I keep each word distinct and try not to spit all over ‘Voices in the Park.’ [Ref 2] I draw their attention to the anomalies and visual jokes, which further distracts them from the torture of dinner.

As I close the book and reach for the next one, junior asks, “mummy, why are you dah sound of dah robot?” Oooo the life of a marble mouth.

Ref 1 = from Pervasive Developmental Disorder, An Altered Perspective by Barbara Quinn and Anthony Malone [The best introductory book.]


kristina said...

I always blush in advance when I know I have to hear myself on tape or video, in my vestigial NorCal accent.

Jerry Grasso said...

I never sound like the voices in my head.

When I am the stern father - I don't actually sound like Lorne Greene

When I am the loving father - I don't actually sound like Michael Landon

When I'm at work - I don't sound like Richard Branson passionately extolling the troops

When I'm with friends - I don't sound like Vince Vaughn in Swingers

But in my head, I'm all of these guys...

To my kids I just sound like 'complaining Daddy'

To Kim, I am sure, I just sound...well....annoying

Benefit of jaw surgery is you could be working on your icy stare...

Leigh Ann said...

I know the feeling. When ever I hear myself speak on the video recorder, it surprises me and I say "Is that my voice? I don't sound that bad." Then I lament to my husband about the awful sounding woman he married.
It is good to find another mom talking about autism. You seem to know so much about it, so I will try to drink it in. I'm serious. There is so much out there that I don't know about and that seems so over my head.
Thanks for visiting my blog.

by Joanna DeVoe said...

Oh wow... we have something in common big time! I love the way you blog about your family in that personal, no nonsense way. It gives autism a face... & a heart & a soul. You asked about an illustration on my blog. It's mine. I made posters and lightswitch covers featuring that design, because people seemed to like it so much. It's suppose to be my son. He has an obsession with all things round, especially balls (ping pong & golf to be specific) & planets. Anyway, i have more reading to do here- gotta check out more of your wonderul Blog!
Joanna DeVoe

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