The King's Speech Sheds Light on Stuttering

The King's Speech Sheds Light on Stuttering

It's the inspirational drama that's just copped an astonishing 12 Oscar® nominations. The story of England's King George VI, who struggled bravely to overcome stuttering.

And some real people are living out the same drama in real life.

Dr. Mitchell Trichon is a professor at St. John's University in New York. He leads a support group for people who stutter. He too struggles with the problem, and says The King's Speech captured the sorrows of stuttering to a "t."

"It really gave some insight as to the frustration and the shame people who stutter can often feel," said one group member.

The entire support group could relate to the portrayal of King George, frozen at the microphone.

Group member Joanna said, "I've been there making speeches in class, everyone staring at you waiting for you to speak and nothing comes out. It's scary. I felt like his pain."

In the film, the King's teacher, played by Geoffrey Rush, uses a variety of techniques to combat stuttering. In one scene Rush's character says to the King, "We need to relax your jaws and tongue, and strengthen your diaphragm."

Stuttering is classified as a neurological disorder. Both hemispheres of the brain have speech centers. In non-stutterers, one side of the brain is dominant and speech is fluid. But with stutterers, neither hemisphere is dominant, so both sides are literally fighting to get words out.

One group member said, "I have tried everything, hypnotism, chiropractor, accupunture, speech therapy. Nothing really clicked."

But The King's Speech delivers a vital message to stutterers—the importance of believing in yourself and never giving up.

For more information, visit these websites:

National Stuttering Association at westutter.org

Friends Who Stutter at friendswhostutter.org

Stuttering Foundation of America at stuttersfa.org

Or email Dr. Trichon at trichonm@stjohns.edu