Help! I Can’t Understand this Guy’s Mumbling

My new column, “Can You Help?”, allows followers to share and answer questions with each other. This week’s question comes from a friend who can’t understand what the heck her daughter’s boyfriend is saying. Can you help?

Dear Lipreading Mom,

My daughter is dating a guy that has some type of social anxiety disorder. I can’t hear him when he talks. Most hearing people have to strain to hear him. I do not know what to do with this guy. I am about to tell him, “Look, why don’t we take sign language because I can’t hear you. If we both learn to sign then I will be able to at least understand you.” I am just about to check out whenever he comes in the room because it is fruitless. What would you do in my situation?

Communicator Seeking Clarity


Do you have advice for ‘Communicator’? Post them below.

Do you have a question for Lipreading Mom? Contact me here.


9 thoughts on “Help! I Can’t Understand this Guy’s Mumbling

  1. Such a difficult situation. Have a word with your daughter, to see if she can encourage him to communicate more clearly. You could also have a private word with him, explaining that your hearing loss and the way he expresses himself do not work well together, but that there are solutions (seating arrangements, fm system, practice). The key here is that this fellow must WANT to speak more clearly. If all else fails, then I would go the check-out route, unless you’re willing to have everything he says repeated to you. Good luck!

  2. This is a hard situation, especially with it being your daughters boyfriend. I think it is important that you be able to understand him, because he is a big part of your daughters life. I would have a conversation with him, tell him you understand that he has social anxiety, but that you would like to figure out a way to be able to understand him, because you love your child. With hearing people always having to strain to listen to him, I doubt that an FM system or any sort of seating arrangement would make any difference, I think the main things are 1. you getting to know him (I have found it so much easier to lipread people when I know them, their speaking patterns and so forth), and 2. Him consciously trying to speak more clearly for you. If you do sign, and he is willing to learn, that could be of a great help not only to you, but for him as well. With some social anxiety issues, using non-verbal communication actually helps people become less anxious and in large situations, he may even be able to express himself easier, instead of having to try and speak louder. Unfortunately there is no easy solution to your issue, but it is very complex. Hopefully the issue gets resolved soon, or at least progress is shown.

  3. Shoot. I have this problem with my own son. I used sign language with him as a baby but he dropped it as soon as he became vocal. I really want to get my DVD’s out and start working on Cued Speech because it’s a faster way to transliterate our English language… I figure using Sign language is a longer process, since it is, after all, a completely different language (just happens to use the English words as “gloss” to represent the concept of a table or person or whatever.). (insert entire pro-and-con discussion of American Sign Language or any other Sign Language – British, Australian, Japanese, whatever all into this tiny box!). Cued Speech has been adapted for something like 80-90 different languages. He just gets all involved in his own teenaged awkwardness and doesn’t slow down to talk properly, so I frequently end up using my husband (his father) as “interpreter” – which really isn’t fair to any of us…

  4. Set an example for how you need him to speak. Say, look, this is how I need you to talk, and imitate the manner in which you need him to speak. Tell him otherwise you can’t understand him. Maybe he does not realize he is mumbling. Tell him, perhaps you dont realize it but you tend to mumble when you speak.

  5. Comunication works both ways if your daughter is important to him he will make the effort. . And Like Deaf Girl said it is easier to understand those that we are around more. I explain this to guest my kids bring over and if necasary my kids will repeat what is said. By watching my kids they learn to talk with me better. My Son -n- law made the effort and I knew he was the one for My Daughter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s