I worked out how to convince people my friend really has language problems.


She’s spent over fifty years learning to pass as fluent. It’s really a bunch of tricks cobbled together. Like recycling the same phrases over and over so she has time to think of original words. And when she gets reduced to saying “NO NO NO NO NO" because she literally can’t speak quickly in emergencies, people assume she just has anger issues. It’s horrible. I know what she’s doing because I used to do it when I could talk, and I still use many of the same tricks while typing.

But I’ve finally figured out how to get people to believe her language problems are real. I’m just shocked I had the social skills to work it out…
Mostly by trial and error.

Anyway so what I do is I act like I’m letting people in on this big secret. “These are the secret tricks those of us with language disorders use to sound fluent when we aren’t.“ I try to make it sound like it’s some kind of big Illuminati secret we all know and they don’t.

And I tell them that if they listen really really close and pay attention, they will hear that we use a lot of the same stock phrases over and over. And that if they listen to my friend, they’ll hear it too. And then they’ll be in on our big secret to passing as fluent. And so on and so forth. Maybe I even let them know some of those phrases to look for.

And it seems to work. When they talk to her, they report back to me that they totally saw what I meant, that at least 80% of her speech is repetitive stock phrases.

And they never disbelieve her again.

I know there’s some problems involved here. But in appealing to their desire to be in on something happening right under their nose, they forget they ever doubted her.

Helps best (if you’re the one being disbelieved) to have someone else do this for you, although you can try it yourself if you have nobody else. If it’s someone else doing it for you, be sure to discuss what some of your stock phrases are, and what you might want them to say about you.

But seriously this had worked where no amount of persuasion and logic worked. People love to be in on secret knowledge most people don’t have. And also, having a second person say it about you reinforced your credibility when someone might not believe you as easily about yourself.

It really makes me mad that people who can speak with the even slight appearance of fluency, get treated as if they have no language problems. Or no serious ones. Even if they didn’t speak fluently till 5, 10, or 20.

Meanwhile people who can’t speak are assumed to have severe language problems even when they have a bigger vocabulary than most speaking people. (Which often they do, if what they have is a speech problem, not a language problem. Meanwhile I grew up, after a speech regression was over anyway,  with superficially fluent speech but serious language and communication problems and nobody noticed until I began to lose speech again.  They just passed those problems off as everything from laziness to anger to emotional problems to drug use.)