Twins with Differences: How the Speech and Hearing Services We Received Shaped My Future

My brother, Stephen, and I are twins—alike, yet different, in so many ways. We have the same dark sense of humor and make each other laugh at any given opportunity but we also know how to push the right buttons to get on each other’s nerves.

Rebecca Delevati and her twin brother, Stephen, as children eating ice cream.

Stephen and I have the same love for food but ask us how we like our coffee in the morning (or type of ice cream!) and our answers will be very different.

Despite our similarities and differences, the love my brother and I have for each other is unconditional. We’ve been incredibly close since the day we were born.

My Story

When I was 9 months old, my parents could tell I was in extreme discomfort—crying more than usual, not sleeping well, pulling at my ears. After seeing my primary care physician, I was referred to an ENT to find that I was developing multiple ear infections due to misdeveloped eustachian tubes.

Shortly after, I underwent my first surgery to have pressure equalizing tubes placed in both of my ears. Followed by a visit with my ENT specialist every 3 months to ensure the tubes were working properly; and an audiologist to ensure my speech, language, and hearing were developing appropriately.

This process continued for years—with a total of 5 surgeries to replace my eustachian tubes, and another to remove my tonsils and adenoids. Throughout each surgery, audiological testing showed that my hearing was consistently improving.

With the help and support of my audiologist and ENT, my eustachian tubes are now fully functional and my hearing is excellent!

His Story

When Stephen was around 3 years old, my mom realized he wasn’t speaking clearly enough for a kid his age. She took him to an SLP for a formal evaluation and discovered he had difficulty producing /s, r, th, l, and k/. He had normal cognitive skills and no language or intellectual impairments. He strictly had a speech sound disorder.

He was quickly enrolled in speech therapy and regularly saw an SLP through our public elementary school, as well as received supplemental services at another facility. Twice a week, Stephen’s SLP worked with him to accurately produce erred phonemes. My parents practiced and helped him with his homework every night. By the time he was 8, Stephen was fully intelligible and no longer needed speech therapy services.

Our Story

While we both had our own types of disorders—mine was auditory, his was speech—it didn’t keep us from being close.

When we were little, we created our own language (idoglossia—or, “twin language”) to communicate with each other. Because he was highly unintelligible for those early years, he became very frustrated when he spoke. Since I could understand him through our special language, I often became his translator and helped our parents understand what he was saying. We relied heavily on our “twin language” to help each other convey our thoughts and feelings to others. To this day, if our parents ask Stephen something, he can give me a “look” and I’ll still sometimes answer for him.

Rebecca Delevati and her twin brother, Stephen, as children standing in front of a fire truck.

Our journeys through these speech, language, and hearing barriers were different, but it created an incredible bond between us that can’t be broken.  

My Path to Becoming an SLP

My decision to become an SLP wasn’t always certain. Although my brother and I both received services, it wasn’t until I started taking classes at Sacramento State University that my professional interest in the field truly sparked. Now, I’m in the process of obtaining my bachelor’s degree in CSD with a minor in Deaf Studies and currently working toward obtaining my SLPA license to work as an assistant after I graduate (before applying to grad school).

I’m so thankful for the audiology and speech services my brother and I received—it helped us realize our full potential. Without those resources, or the support of our parents who worked tirelessly to help us, we wouldn’t have progressed so well or so quickly. Our hearing and speech issues would have been prolonged, potentially affecting our academic and social lives negatively.

Thanks to the intervention I received, I’ve been able to realize where my heart truly belongs—on the path to becoming an SLP so I can help others the way my brother and I were helped.

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