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Calling It Quits

I attended Speech Therapy privately at Cal State University Northridge (or, CSUN) and also through our public school system for almost 13-14 years total. Could you imagine? It was 1-3 times a week, for a half hour to an hour. Speech Therapy was practically a part-time job for me, on top of school, and other extracurriculars any child should participate in.

Around Middle and High School, many children with Apraxia discuss or mention quitting Speech Therapy, how they no longer want to attend, and how exhausted they are.

Sometimes, a little break here and there can help reset their attitudes.

However, what if it's an unfixable state?

Ever have a job you absolutely hated? Well, would a month vacation help you like that job? I doubt it, if you truly hated that job you would never want to return.

Between Freshman and Sophomore year in High School, my patience with Speech Therapy was severely low. I hated going, but it was so much more than that. I hated that I wasn't getting out of it what I was putting into it. I was putting everything into Speech Therapy for years, yet people still asked about my accent.

In contrast, when I put energy and efforts into swimming-I was becoming a stronger, more competitive athlete. I was swimming with Varsity and the faster Seniors. When I put energy and efforts into my classes, I was eligible for more Honors and AP classes and acing them. When I put energy into service work and volunteerism, I was contributing to my community through Girl Scouts.

At this age, I knew what I wanted to be- I wanted to be an athlete, I wanted to be an intellect, and I wanted to be a volunteer. If I could do all three, then maybe college would be on the horizon. Nowhere in this desired identity was speech therapy required. Frankly, it hindered it. More time in speech and driving back and forth meant less time for studying, swimming, and volunteering.

Less time in investing in the person I wanted to be.

Speech Therapy only helps my speech, but where does it help me?

I was terrified to tell my parents that I wanted to quit Speech Therapy. See, I was only 75% intelligible when I quit. Plus my parents spent 13-14 years driving back and forth and paying for my therapy. I was intentionally quitting something without fully succeeding, graduating, or passing. Asking my parents to let me do so was nerve-wracking. It was the exact opposite of what you're taught, "When you commit to something, you see it through."

But, at what expense? Sacrificing becoming the person I wanted to actually be.

The irony of all this was I knew I needed to quit the one activity that was supposedly there to help me, Speech Therapy, in order to become the actual person I wanted to be.

Ironic, nerve-wracking, and unnatural; yet also freeing.

Without Speech Therapy, I could become who I wanted to be, invest my time in myself and my future. The only risk would be facing a new world of 'normals' and losing my safety net; I could no longer explain to people that "I'm still working on my speech" when asked about my 'accent.'

A new world, no safety net-The most intimidating, best decision of my life.
My Parents understood where I was coming from and respected my decision. They did not agree with it.

I knew they did not agree with it; my father's comment on the last day of speech therapy, "You can always go back if you want to" indicated his fear as well on this venture.

I was determined though.

I did not need speech therapy to be who I wanted to be. This venture was daunting, exhausting and motivating. I excelled academically, socially, and athletically. Straight A's in various honors classes, participating in clubs and non-profits, and being a strong competitive swimmer on my school's team. I committed myself to being the best Aly I could be.

But still, I have never regretted my decision to quit speech therapy.

My actions throughout my teenage and young adult years demonstrated I was fine without speech therapy and it even taught my parents some valuable life lessons as well.

At 18 years old, and even to this day, I hear my Dad talk about my speech disorder and quitting speech therapy to his friends. Usually along the lines of, "She quit speech therapy and now has greater confidence in herself than she would have if she stayed."

Perhaps a person doesn't need to have perfect speech, just as long as they're confident in who they naturally are.


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