Friday Miss Kat and I stopped at a playplace to hang out. It was very hot outside and we needed a cool place to play. Miss Kat is very sociable and it is very easy for her to approach other kids and play. This day was no exception. She played very well with several kids and they all admired her Zhu Zhu pet and it's lovely princess dress. They talked and ran and played. Everything was going well until I heard the words..."Why do you talk weird?"
First and foremost, Mama bear came out. I wanted to snatch those kids down from the slide and yell at them. Of course, I didn't. I gave them the benefit of the doubt (actually, I walked away in anger and Hubby talked me down) and they were actually just curious. They weren't being mean to Miss Kat, or making fun of the way she spoke, they just had never encountered someone who spoke differently from them.
Now to be honest, Miss Kat doesn't have a "perfect voice". She is pretty darn intelligible, and kids never have to have her repeat herself, or misunderstand her, but she does sound different. Add to that that she still has some peculiarities in her grammar, and as she ages, kids do notice. So...what do we say? Do we explain to her that she doesn't sound "normal"? She very easily answers questions about her equipment and is able to advocate for herself and repair situations in which she mishears or doesn't understand, but we have never addressed the "quality" of her speech.
(While all of this has been quite painful to witness and think about, it is still better than how she was treated when her only means of communication was ASL. Kids were much more cruel then. I remember once when I screamed at a mother because she child said, (and she clearly heard and did nothing about it) "Why can't you talk? Only babies can't talk. You must be a baby. I don't play with babies. Get away from me." Yeah, I FLIPPED OUT over that one. Another time it was "What is she doing with her arms? Make her stop that!" or the adult who told me to "Shut her up!".....)