Though I would not say that I was ever a 'chatterbox', I do like to converse and it is important to me that I be understood in a conversation and that I understand others well.
So ... Speech is very important to me.
I have 'intermittent' speech problems. For the most part I can hold a conversation but now and again I can barely string two words together! I often have difficulties making myself understood because of slurring, sometimes breathlessness or fractured speech - the words do not come out properly. Sadly, my speech problems are getting more frequent.
For me, the issue with slurred, fractured or otherwise incoherent speech is exacerbated by my sheer frustration at not being understood. Can anyone say ‘vicious circle’? Sometimes, the more I try to be understood the worse my speech becomes.
The worst times, for me, to have these speech problems are when in a hurried situation such as getting on a bus or (nightmare of nightmares) in a supermarket checkout queue when paying and ‘holding up’ the line.
Having, or trying to have, a simple conversation with someone can be very frustrating when my speech ‘gives’ too. At such times, I tend to slow down and think more about what I intend to say or need to concentrate more on actually speaking. This in itself can cause issue though as people sometimes mistake my slowing as ‘talking down’ to them.
Most people that know me are very understanding, patient enough to let me correct myself or know enough of how I am to actually correct me in a positive way as we go!
The real problems start when I talk to people I do not know well or at all. I get especially frustrated when people that do not know me well take my speech problems as a sign of stupidity or drunkenness. (As it is, I do not drink alcohol now due to the medication I take and never was anything more than a moderate drinker).
Saying ‘I sympathise with you’ (Marie) can be taken in a negative way and sound somewhat demeaning or uncaring. In this instance though, I really do sympathise with anyone feeling bad about speech problems they have and understand just how negative these problems can make us feel.
As for 'How do you know when its plain ataxia and when it isn't?' - I do not! I do know that when other things are particularly bad - balance and coordination and such - my speech is particularly bad. So, there does seem to be a direct correlation!