Many of us take our ability to communicate for granted, but the ability to speak, hear and be heard is much more vital to our everyday lives than most of us realize. A communication disorder can make everyday interactions a serious challenge. A communication disorder may prevent an individual from performing well at work, asking for help, hearing instructions at school or even saying ‘I love you’.
This month, we want to highlight WNBA champion and Basketball Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings. At the age of three, Tamika’s family found out she had a hearing disorder and would need hearing aids and would need to learn other skills to improve communication. At a young age, she was bullied because of her disorder which led her to throwing her bulky hearing aids into a field one day while walking home. Her family was unable to afford new ones so Tamika had to learn how to read lips and use other observational techniques to communicate.
Communication was a challenge in crowded spaces, which led her to avoiding groups of people and being isolated. It was challenging for her to have a group of friends. She not only couldn’t hear but she lost her voice due to the challenges of being able to communicate with those around her. It wasn’t until she got introduced to basketball that she realized that her impairment wasn’t a barrier on the court. Body language was the quickest and most used form of communication - and she excelled. She no longer stood out because she was different. She stood out because she was great at basketball. She stood out so much that she received a full scholarship to the University of Tennessee, an elite basketball powerhouse, her dream school.