“The King’s Speech” good news for stutterers

Posted Jan. 17, 2011, at 1:07 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 17, 2011, at 1:30 p.m.

The new movie, “The King’s Speech,” which focuses on the speech therapy of King George VI of England, will raise awareness about stuttering and its treatment. That’s good news: speech and language pathologists who specialize in stuttering, as well as people affected by this common but misunderstood disorder, will benefit.

Here are a few things you should know about stuttering:

Stuttering – or stammering, as the British call it — affects about one percent of the population around the world, including about 3 million Americans. Chances are good that you know someone who stutters, or someone who whose life is affected by a stutterer.

We now know that stuttering is mostly physiological in origin and often genetic.

Speech therapy was in its infancy in the 1930s, the period depicted in The King’s Speech. While there is no cure, today’s speech and language pathologists can help most people who stutter, especially in combination with support groups. Early intervention for preschool children who stutter is particularly helpful.

What has not changed since King George’s time is that stuttering is still widely misunderstood and expert treatment is hard to find. Many speech therapists receive little training in stuttering, and parents of children who stutter often get bad advice from pediatricians and therapists.

You don’t have to be the King of England to succeed as a person who stutters. People who stutter achieve success in every walk of life.

More about stuttering and its treatment is available at http://www.WeStutter.org and on the website of the Stuttering Foundation of America, www.stutteringhelp.org.

Marybeth Allen is the only board recognized specialist in fluency disorders in the State of Maine and also leads the Bangor-area chapter of the National Stuttering Association.She teaches in the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders at the University of Maine in Orono and may be reached at mbslp@roadrunner.com.

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