Life is not the same for woman with foreign accent syndrome - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Life is not the same for woman with foreign accent syndrome


One year ago, we introduced you to Donna Speer, a Midlands woman who began talking with a foreign accent after suffering a severe migraine. It's called foreign accent syndrome, and since we told you her story, her life hasn't been the same.

"Once it happened I knew my life was going to change. From the moment it happened. I didn't know what was going to change," said Speer.

Just about everything has changed for Speer, since last year.

"It's an American accent that sounds like a foreign accent, and it really is a speech impediment," Speer initially explained.

That's how she sounded after a severe migraine stripped her of her voice for two days, leaving her with the strange condition -- a condition known to effect fewer than 30 people nationally.

"Quite often in the beginning, these patients are labeled as crazies because it doesn't fit into some of the more common diseases we have out there," said Dr. Souvik Sen.

"I felt misunderstood because it is such a rare condition," said Speer. "I didn't want people to stereotype me as being crazy or a faker."

But there has been plenty of negativity and added stress. She used to be a school teacher.

"The parents made it a little difficult because they were questioning it," said Speer. "The stress level was probably the biggest thing when determining what I was going to do."

Ultimately, Speer decided to leave and seek the low-stress environment of her hometown: Myrtle Beach.

"There's a lot of different people here from all over, so the fact that I may speak a little differently every now and then doesn't stick our as much, so I can blend a little better," said Speer. 

Things are getting better. Speer says she's been labeled as a "flipper", meaning she goes in and out of that old accent.

She still sees doctors for her migraines,  but says overall the diagnoses of FAS was a good thing and allowed her re-prioritize her life and meet the precious few across the country who fight the same battle.

"I get all kinds of questions all the time and I'm so used to it now, so I don't mind answering them and I don't mind volunteering it either," said Speer. "If I have the time I will because I want to educate people that foreign accent syndrome is a real condition, and it is what it is. It's my life."

Speer says she wants to continue to educate people about FAS. She's done a few free public speaking events and is planning on writing a book.

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