Foreign Accent Speech Changes with Video

On May 12th of 2012, I am celebrating the anniversary of a milestone in my life, namely just completing my third year with Foreign Accent Syndrome. It was such a dramatic change in my life that I am thankful I have some audio/video captured to show a bit of the journey for the sake of medical documentation as well as public information.

For those who have not heard my “old” voice (a.k.a. “normal voice”, “real” or “original” voice) here are a couple of pieces wherein I am being interviewed, and another where I am the interviewer as well as much more normal speech patterns.

February 3, 2007 –Before foreign accent: This is a video of me being interviewed after giving a seminar on using new media tool of Flickr and tagging photographs for better communication across the world wide web.


May 24,2008 — Here I am both interviewing AND filming a piece about a local ministry that accurately reflects my normal speech BEFORE I got Foreign Accent Syndrome:

THEN IT HAPPENED — MAY 12, 2009 — FOREIGN ACCENT SYNDROME changes my speech and a big part of me is gone!

May 26, 2009 — 2 weeks – my first radio interview in which I actually tell about how I got it and with my brand new voice!

June 15, 2009 — 1 month after onset of Foreign Accent Syndrome: here I had an impromptu meet-up with Fishers Fran who occasionally has “bouts of Foreign Accented Speech” when she goes through multiple sclerosis type symptoms. She coined the phrase “flipping” for those times when she goes through it. Most of the time she is normal speaking. She found me via the Indianapolis radio station where I was routinely interviewed.

The June 19,2009 (1 month) video greeting is glued to the top of my web site.


November 12, 2009 –6 months after onset:


May 13, 2010 — at the One Year Mark with Foreign Accent Syndrome:


November 13, 2010 — One and a half years with FAS:


November 20, 2011 — Two and a half years with FAS (I am behind the camera asking the questions):


This is a pretty good library of audio/video documentation for now. I shall have to record some newer material for my actual “FAS birthday”. So you’ll just have to check back later.

I know that part of it is getting more comfortable with unusual sound and speech patterns as well as my avoiding using those words that I know are my “bad” words. Those being the particularly heavy accented or hard to pronounce words that stop a listener from hearing what I am trying to say because they are so hung up on its sound that they are busy figuring out from what country I originate.

In the meantime, I would greatly appreciate your observations about what you think of this bizarre Foreign Accent Syndrome. How would you describe my speech? What language do you think dominates the accent? Do you notice a change over time?

Please allow me to thank you in advance for ANY observations you have. Because your unfiltered input helps me better gauge how the general population views those of us with such a rare condition that takes away a part of our identity by making us sound like someone else.

Communication: Shall we dance?

I have always been fascinated with behavior, and especially as it pertains to communication. I still enjoy watching lightbulbs click on as people have their “ah-ha” moments, when that certain something clicks as they discover the connection that had just previously eluded them. I think I am even more fascinated with communication because of my increased awareness since having acquired the rare Foreign Accent Syndrome.

I tell my child and adult students attempting to train their dogs a behavior. “The dog wants to please. You want it to do something. However neither of you “speaks” the same language, so how do you communicate?” Enter the beauty of studying BEHAVIOR and COMMUNICATION.

All living things NEED to communicate to live. The forms of communication differ, but they MUST get their needs met, and that always requires someone, or something else. God designed it that way. So there is a universal need to be understood! We all need to eat, be safe, and to propagate the species. To do that we need to cause something to happen. The ideal way is a partner and to do this we must communicate.

One of the best ways to be understood is to consider the audience with which you are trying to communicate. It falls upon you to do a little research on your recipient. HOW do they best listen? WHAT causes pleasure or fear in the listener? WHAT approach must I then attempt? HOW will I adjust dependent upon their reaction?

What I teach in our dog obedience class is that even when we don’t “speak” the same language –very meaningful communication IS happening. Most of our communication is NON-verbal. For example the emotions are seen in the eyes, the attitude in the posture, the overall acceptance or understanding (or lack thereof) in the behavior that follows.  I LOVE it!

Understanding is vital! So choosing the words carefully and even the timing in speaking those words is a skill that we can spend a lifetime improving upon! So many times great pain can be caused by misunderstandings. ALL of us have been on both the receiving and delivering sides of a cutting remark or misspoken word. The righteous person will acknowledge his error, ask for forgiveness and set himself straight on the path to greater wisdom in the future.

A person who is “hurt” by someone else’s words should have the self-control to take a step back and look at the big picture. So often our interpretations of a word are based on our own personal history, or even more often upon our current emotional state. None of which the speaker may have been aware. I find it best to give the benefit of the doubt to the speaker as they may truly be ignorant. Therefore, I will not “snap” first, and then regret my own error in judgement.

Communicating is like a dance. I take a step. It’s your turn. Who will lead? Who will follow? Or does this dance allow independent movements in close proximity? Regardless, it takes the willing participation of both parties and it is a beautiful thing when done well and a train wreck when it isn’t!

Two people can sit in the corner all night long when neither one takes the initiative to make the first move. One may cross the room in an act of friendliness toward the other. Or they may both meet in the center of the room. There is a type of friendly approach, seeking to get to know another person, to share an experience or to enrich lives through mutual discovery. On the other hand, there are people who are cynical and might see an approaching stranger as some form of threat. Still others may fly off the handle at a misspoken word or misunderstanding. All in all — communication is very much of a dance.

How sad is it to see a girl sitting all alone while her friends are enjoying the evening out on the floor? She wishes ‘someone’ whould just come up to even talk with her; although a dance might be fun as well. Then there is a boy over there thinking to himself,  “I wonder who SHE is? I’d ask that girl if she’d care to dance, but she’d probably just say ‘no’?” He lets his negative thinking fritter away his evening.

Sometimes I wanna shake up the pot and say “COME ON PEOPLE!”–Take a chance. Until you try, you’ll never know. Girly, you’ve got legs. You can raise up and smile at the fellow can’t you? Present yourself as a friendly and approachable sort and you will welcome many more happy times into your life.

And you, young man…Where’s your confidence? You’ve been rejected before, you say? Who hasn’t? But if every past failure thwarted a future attempt, where would anyone be? I’m not saying to bowl over there like a mad bull after red, but what harm is there in slowly walking up to someone, smiling and wishing a good evening? Ha! Give it a try, I say~

Obviously this little highschool dance scenario is only an illustration. It isn’t all about boy/girl relationships and dancing. My point is, have you ever stopped to consider that in this world we are given opportunities to “dance” with those around us via our communication and behavior skills? We all can have an impact: good or bad; accepting or rejecting; caring or careless; inspiring or despairing; genuine or fake.

Proverbs 24:14 (NIV)
Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Have you thought about this? When sitting in a chair at the Big Dance in the Ballroom of Life. . . what kind of dance partner are you?

Foreign Accent Syndrome – observe and report

It’s with great passion that I seek to assemble news and reports on Foreign Accent Syndrome. Since I first acquired it in May 2009, I have been astounded at how little information there is on this medical condition. Because it is an extremely rare condition (with between 50-100 cases worldwide — ever); it is even harder to find information about FAS. It is even MORE difficult to find “quality” reporting on it. So when I find it, I want to share it!  Perhaps those who come along behind me with a brand new occurrence of FAS, will have somewhere to obtain real, useful information amongst all the cynical, critical and downright nasty comments that some have put out.

A PERSONAL BLOG –Even though I had read this blog post some time ago, I believe that it is so nicely done that I thought I’d share it here. Notice how the author, Arthur Greenblatt, does such a nice job of incorporating the news of the day with an event in his own personal life: 1) the facts are clearly stated. 2) Although there is an outside article as an anchor to his post, he has cited the source, date, publication and author 3) The source he used presents a lot of foundational information on Foreign Accent Syndrome.

I will give the link to his personal blog post here >>> Arthur’s Days Blog post on FAS

A VIDEO ==Above is a video of Ms. Robin Jenks Vanderlip describing the challenges in her life and speech after suffering a head injuryin 2007 that  resulted in what doctors call Foreign Accent Syndrome. Vanderlip, a Pennsylvania native, speaks with what sounds like a Russian accent. (this comes from the same Washington Post article cited below).  SEE how much actually watching and hearing for yourself adds to the authenticity of the post?!

AN EXCELLENT ARTICLE –The Article, Fairfax Woman Developed Russian Accent After Head Injury, By Brigid Schulte. Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, May 30, 2010 is excellent at presenting facts in an interesting personal approach without sensationalism. Here is why I believe it is A+ Article:

A) The History of Foreign Accent Syndrome

B) Individual Cases of Foreign Accent Syndrome

C) Some noticeable distinctive features of the pronunciations and differences with Foreign Accent Syndrome

D) Names, at least one sufferer and one researcher/doctor plus many other examples of cases where names are not given, but features are.

E) The PERSONAL experience of sufferer being further harmed by public pundits statements and the added poor public opinion that such generates.

All of these together, make me wish to extend a “heroin of journalism for the sake of the sufferer” award to Ms. Schulte. This is one example of effective, well done journalism that I wish to continue to broadcast!

Since 2009 I have been amassing numerous articles and tried to contact fellow FAS sufferers. There is now a group of us who are in contact from around the world who are there to support one another in the unique challenges that arise with speaking all the time in a foreign accented voice with which we were neither born nor able to change back.

Perhaps Mr. Schulte or some other journalist of such skill will take another look at the newer cases and any new research being done with this very rare condition that seems to be less rare now as more and more cases are emerging. The first step toward fighting ignorance is GOOD reporting. Plus, there is something that makes it all the more effective when reporting about Foreign Accent Syndrome is done to show the personal side of the story!


What do you think about this post?  Your opinion matters! What you think and ask can help us all make new discoveries, so please feel free to add a comment or question below. Thanks.