The film “The King’s Speech” authentically portrays “the difficulty, fear, and low self-esteem that many stutterers have,” says Dr. Suzanne Reading, a speech-language pathologist for 30 years and director of Butler University’s Communication Sciences & Disorders Program. Actor Colin Firth delivered a realistic sounding stutter, she said, “especially the long pauses that can occur when a person who stutters is trying to start a stream of speech.”
Reading liked the film, which portrays real-life speech therapist Lionel Logue’s efforts to help Britain’s King George VI overcome his crippling stutter, so he could address his nation as it headed into World War II. She thinks the movie could be a useful for her students to see for how it models the therapist-client relationship.
In the film, the Logue character invites the King to come to therapy sessions at Logue’s home office. But, Reading noted, “Logue never even told his wife that he was seeing the King for treatment. It showed that speech pathologists honor confidentiality for their clients,” an important factor in encouraging individuals with speech disorders to seek treatment, she said.
The treatment techniques Logue is shown using in the 1930s follow some of the basic principles still used in therapy today, she said, including having clients sing and talk over background noise to achieve stutter-free speech. “The main technique that was portrayed and still used today is to have the person face their fear and not avoid speaking situations,” she said.
Reading believes that the film has already increased awareness of speech and language disorders and prompted more people to seek clinical treatment. Like King George VI, each one must take the first step of facing their fears.
Suzanne Reading, Ph.D., is a speech-languagepathologist (CCC-SLP)with national certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and a state license in Indiana. She has worked with children and adults with all types of speech and language disorders, throughout her 30-year career. Throughout that time, she has also taught in university speech-language pathology programs for graduate and undergraduate students.
To schedule an interview with Suzanne Reading, contact Mary Ellen Stephenson, (317)940-6944 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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