I grew up with a speech impairment. School was hard for me, especially middle school. I remember being a sixth grader and having my classmates talk about the fun they had hanging out in the library while I was at speech therapy missing out. This made going to speech therapy very hard. However, no matter how upset I was when I walked into my speech therapist Patty’s class, she never let it detract from our work together. While each lesson was incredibly painstaking for me, she was always there giving me the encouragement I needed. As I continued to make progress, she always told me, “I am very proud of you Eileen, as I know you don’t want to be here. I admire your strong work ethic.” This was so helpful to me.
As we continued to work together, she learned about a new type of speech treatment program that was very effective for people with apraxia. She was determined to use it with me. Unfortunately for me, this moved me from group therapy to individual, which I did not want to do. However, right away she got me to see the value in this change as she knew I wanted to succeed and make my parents proud. She convinced me this new therapy was going to give me the best results.
At first, I struggled and had a pretty bad attitude. Thankfully she understood my struggles and bad attitude were related to my own challenges and I wasn’t mad at her. Because she understood this, it allowed us to have many heart-to-heart conversations, which further strengthened our relationship and made going to speech a lot easier for me.
As the year went on, she gave me a lot of help in my resource room. This is when I realized how much she liked me and wanted to help me. I was in a somewhat difficult group with many students who didn’t care about their education, so the teacher was often busy with them and Patty ended up giving me more assistance with my assignments. This allowed her to see my strong work ethic and determination to overcome my disability.
Patty Bell is the reason why I am sharing my story for Speech and Hearing Month. We had many difficult moments as we worked together, but through it all we respected each other and we both believed I would eventually come around. I hope if you are going through similar experiences, you can recognize how much your attitude affects your success. Changing a negative attitude and having a wonderfully caring and supportive person in your life like Patty can have a lifelong impact. I am honored to say today we have a wonderful relationship and I am eternally grateful she never lost faith in me.