This morning, I was working with one of my 9th grade clients - let's call him B. He was distressed about an interaction in class that had him at a loss for words. He asked, "Do I have a stutter? Do I have something else? My therapist says [x], my mom says [y], but I don't think it's either of those things. Why couldn't I get my words out?"
As a certified speech-language pathologist, I have spent over a decade diagnosing communication disorders. I have labeled and prescribed. I have unpacked technical descriptions for hundreds of adolescents just like this student in my office. I could have given information or answers, but in this moment, I tried a different approach. "What would you call it?" I asked.
B thought about this. "It's like... I knew what I wanted to say. But then the words just... yeeted."
Now, if you're like me, you are always suspicious of slang. "That doesn't mean something inappropriate, right...?"
"No!" B laughed. "It's like when things just are GONE."
So, B and I got to work on his "word yeets." We discussed strategies for communicating under pressure and finding exactly the right words. We even played a game of "Heads Up" and laughed when either of us "yeeted."
I noticed a shift in B this morning. He had a sense of humor, lightness, and dare I say-*acceptance* around his expressive language difficulties. I'm optimistic that doing away with all big, scary, technical labels and just having fun with "word yeets" played a part in this.
As I always say, Big Scary Technical Labels are critical for things like getting services, getting recognized by insurance, advocacy and awareness, and finding community.
But - once we have gotten those things - is there value in creating our own labels?
How can you play with language and create your own diagnosis?
Just a thought...