WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Michelle Myers had a stroke and was rushed to West Valley Hospital in Goodyear where doctors said she was suffering from loss of speech, caused by a brain injury.
- But when she started to speak, she sounded British and started to panic.
- Myers, who grew up in Oklahoma, was diagnosed with a speech disorder called Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS).
In May 2015, Michelle Myers from Arizona says she went to bed with a “pounding” headache and when she woke up, she couldn’t feel the left side of her body.
Everybody at the hospital where she was taken was shocked, including Myers, when she started speaking with a British accent.
“I went to say, ‘My name is Michelle,’ and it came out like, “Rabbit, fox…,” Myers told Fox News. “No one could understand me. I was like, ‘Is something wrong with my brain?'”
The mother of seven was placed through a series of tests by a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS), an extremely rare condition with only 60 known cases since 1907.
Myers’ accent has not changed since then. Everyone thinks of a certain person when she speaks.
“Everybody only sees or hears Mary Poppins,” Myers told ABC affiliate KNXV.
Myers found her condition “really difficult to begin with … people would think it was a joke, saying things like, ‘You sound like a Spice Girl.’ It was hard, because I was really struggling. I have come to terms with the fact I might sound like this forever. I realize it’s part of me now.”
Shelia Blumstein, a linguist from Brown University and has written a great deal about FAS, said patients usually produce grammatically correct language, unlike many stroke or brain-injury sufferers. She told The Washington Post about a story of a woman from Virginia who fell down a stairwell and woke up speaking with a Russian-like accent.
Myers told the Sun, a British newspaper, that her condition is “really difficult to begin with … people would think it was a joke, saying things like, ‘You sound like a Spice Girl.’ It was hard, because I was really struggling. I have come to terms with the fact I might sound like this forever. I realize it’s part of me now.”
In 2011, Myers said she had an Irish accent after suffering from a three-day-long headache.
It happened again in 2014 when she had an Australian accent after a sharp pain in her head. Her accent was back to normal after two days.
“I would give anything to be normal. I would give anything,” Myers said. “Rare diseases are very emotional. You feel very alone, isolated. I want to help someone so they don’t have to live in hiding.”
Myers joined a Facebook group for FAS which has around 100 members, discussing the condition and offer advice and comfort to the newly diagnosed.