Elmer Fudd and The Pirate Astronomer

Joshua has had a speech impediment for a while now. It’s not Daffy Duck-level, closer to Elmer Fudd, really, but it hasn’t corrected itself or shown any improvement at all. So we’re starting speech therapy soon.

Speech impediments don’t have to be obstacles to career or personal success. Henry Kissinger won a Nobel Prize despite sounding like he’s talking with a mouthful of salt-water taffy. Jimmy Stewart basically turned his speech impediment into an acting career. Moses — yes, that Moses — talked to God Himself with a self-admitted speech impediment. It’s obviously not an easy thing to deal with, but the point is that it can be dealt with.

Joshua’s issue is an inability to articulate Rs, Ls, and Ws clearly. They all sound the same, but whatever they sound like is neither R, L, nor W. We’re not really sure how it came to be. My mother supposes that his allergies to The World kept his head stuffed up to the point that he couldn’t hear those sounds clearly when he was learning to speak. I can’t say she’s wrong because Joshua is allergic to life itself, so who knows? Whatever its origin, it is here to stay.

Next week, he’ll meet with a speech pathologist, or maybe a speech therapist. I’m sure that somebody with some free time can Google the difference between a speech pathologist and a speech therapist, but I don’t know it and I’m perfectly happy believing that they’re the same.* Whatever this person’s title, he will be voluntarily** walking into the verbal buzzsaw that is Joshua’s endless patter. I have a great deal of sympathy for this person, as talking with Joshua is the conversational equivalent of Death By A Thousand Cuts.

It’s parental love that brought us to this point — the point at which we are seeking to help Joshua talk better. Of course the fear is that this parental love will become outright masochism in helping Joshua to talk more. Still, off we go.

Jack, has slowly been finding his own voice. What he lacks in vocal precision, he makes up for in enthusiasm. He has recently discovered words that end with -ar. “Star” and “car” are two of his favorite words. Amusingly, his emphasis on that “ar” sound is absurdly heavy, making him sound like a pirate posing as a used car salesman.***

The contrast between Jack’s hyperbolic, manic Rs and Joshua’s velvety, nebulous Rs is stark. It’s like hanging out in the hot tub for twenty minutes then jumping into the pool — your body is shocked right down to your soul by what is suddenly no longer present. It’s my hope to soon experience this in reverse once Joshua’s Rs emerge from the mists.

* My guess: they are the same, but the speech pathologist didn’t like that “therapist” looks like “the rapist” if you read it too quickly.

**Well, ok, he’s getting paid. And that’s for the best.

***Yes, that’s redundant


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