Saturday, November 13, 2010

VYou: An exercise in speech

I created my own VYou account today. I signed up for it because recently, I started a local advice column for people with questions about ASD in my town, supported by my local autism club. Immediately after signing up and picking my username though, I became distraught to discover that, since your responses on the videos were immediate, there was no option for creating captioning or subtitles, and you could not put a transcript on the video (That I know of so far). So, I axed the idea of using it for my advice column, because I believe that unless I can make something as accessible to as many people as possible, I shouldn't use it for projects like my advice column.
But now, I have an entirely different motivation for using this website. As you can tell from the videos posted thus far, I do not have a very good speaking voice. Like Temple Grandin, I'm reputed amongst friends and acquaintances for my habit of speaking in a choppy, loud, speedy voice, and repeating phrases and words. This is how I acquire language, known better among the disability/neurodiverse community as echolalia . It's actually suited me rather well when it comes to learning foreign languages; I can speak Japanese and Russian with some confidence, and I hope one day to master those two and take on French, Swedish, and possibly Farsi.
But my speech remains choppy and awkward in English, owing to the fact that I often think in very rapid succession, and I don't always necessarily verbalize everything I am thinking to get from point A to point B. This makes for extremely ripply and clumsy sentences dripping from my mouth on a regular basis. When speaking a foreign language, I have to think carefully about what I say, and therefore often produce much neater, more elegant and compact sentences that can be easily understood.
Essentially, my new hope for this personal project is for me to discover what is so wonderful about speaking my own language (My 'Aspiecious' speech, according to some!) I intend to observe these videos of my unedited and unfiltered stream of thought based on questions asked, and see how this will affect, if at all, the way I use language and speech in English. Will I find my current way more satisfying, or could these insights compel me to slow down my rapid-fire speech?
A very controversial part, to me personally, of the curebie mentality has been the overwhelming desire of neurotypicals to compel autistic people to speak like neurotypical folk- without our characteristic accents and manners of speech, for those of us who can speak and choose to. I'm proud of the way I talk, and I choose to talk on my own terms and in my own way. But maybe my way isn't the best for those who have hearing problems, or may have difficulty grasping my often eccentric vocabulary.
We shall see. In the meantime, feel free to ask me your own questions on the site.

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