Reuben is a gifted soccer player and fearless goalie. He was playing for an elite youth soccer team in Atlanta, Georgia when the unfortunate accident happened. He was kicked in the head by an opponent and went into shock. He stopped breathing multiple times and came in and out of consciousness on the soccer field. His coach said, “I thought I might lose him…”
Reuben was airlifted to a hospital where he fell into a coma for several days. Reuben’s mother is a high school teacher originally from Nigeria. When Reuben finally woke up, he said to her, ‘I’m hungry’ in Spanish. Reuben’s mother ran out of the room to get help. “A nurse asked me what language does he speak. I said, ‘I speak English. He speaks English. We’re not Spanish-based people’”
Suddenly Reuben couldn’t speak a lick of English. Instead Spanish effortlessly flowed out of his mouth. Reuben says he could only speak a few words of Spanish before the accident. He thinks he must have subconsciously picked up the language from his brother who studied abroad in Spain, and some of his teammates who are fluent Spanish speakers.
Reuben described speaking Spanish as weird, but enjoyable. However, trying to speak his native English made him have a seizure. After a few days, Reuben’s English returned. He can still speak Spanish, but it is beginning to fade.
Reuben is not the only person to have ever woken up with a mysterious language condition. In 2013, an American man woke up in a motel in California speaking Swedish. Unlike Reuben, this was not a new language for him, but he had completely forgotten his native English and all memory of his past life. Equally as baffling is foreign accent syndrome where people develop a new accent usually after some head trauma. The first case of this dates back to 1941 when a Norwegian woman, who was injured during a bombing, suddenly began speaking in a German accent. Over the years, there have been 62 cases of this condition.
Reuben is back at home now, but he still is getting medical tests and having seizures. A gofundme.com page has been created to help his parents pay for his medical expenses. Reuben hopes to become a professional soccer player one day and can’t wait to get back on the field. His coach says when he comes back he’ll need to wear a helmet.