Sunday, February 6, 2011

The King's Speech

I feel I should preface this with the fact that I had to bribe a friend to go see it with me. This movie, while having chick-flick leading man Colin Firth, does not draw in a college crowd. My friend and I were literally the youngest, by about 30 years. Also, if you have any inkling to see this movie,  I’m sorry if I give anything away.  

Watching the movie, I felt a kinship with the lead character. I bet you are asking yourself what a college student and the former King of England have in common; the answer is simple, a stutter. The speech therapy tactics by Lionel Logue are quite unique; in fact, if my classes would have been that interesting they may have worked. Exercises that range from singing, to talking with headphones, to accentuating a script as actors would, it is clear that his style of speech therapy is out of the ordinary.

A right-handed person by force, it was also quite interesting that the King was “wrong” for being left-handed.  I Googled to find out what being writing with your left hand had to do with stuttering. I found that there is a connection between stuttering and being left-handed. I too was forced to switch to my right hand as a toddler. My Grandma thought it was "wrong" to write with your left hand. There is much debate, but there seems to be more left-handed individuals who stutter. This is based on similar brain abnormalities. 

I know the fear of the microphone and public speaking all too well. Anxiety is known to make a stutterers speech much worse. Despite this working for me during high school, there is no calling in sick for presentations when you are the King of England.

Logue, who called the King of England “Bertie”, focused on trying to get the King to let him into his personal life. It wasn’t just speech therapy, rather they bonded. The two, according to the text at the end of the movie, became life-long friends.

Whether or not you are a stutterer, there is a universal need for a friend who is not judgemental. When people are with their friends, family or people they are most comfortable, they are more at ease. It would explain why Bertie was able to talk to his speech therapist more fluently than with other people. 

While this movie is not for everyone, if you are a stutterer or know one, you should check it out.  In fact, I may use the script notes as Bertie did during my next presentation. Maybe you will learn something too. 

Labels do not define you.

Every person has a quality that makes them unique. For some, these qualities may personality traits or physical characteristics. The words perky, blonde and dreamer have often been used to describe me. Those labels I have no problem with. Those who choose to merely label me as a stutterer; I do have a problem with.

As a very ambitious person, I never understood why people let things stand in their way. I have stuttered from a very young age. I could definitely have hid in the background, but the sideline is not my thing. From readings I have done, most stutterers choose professions that they do not have to deal with the public. I, for some strange reason, decided that politics and communications is my calling.

Whether your obstacle is stuttering, stage fright or [insert your obstacle here], I’m sure that with the help of your family and friends you can beat it, or at least learn coping tricks as I have. There are many options open to you. If you are a stutterer, check out the Canadian Stuttering Association or the Stuttering Foundation of America.

There is literature that will help everyone from your teachers, to your family better understand what you are dealing with. Believe it or not, you are not the only person who stutters. There are 68 million people worldwide who stutter. Three million Americans have this speech issue as well as one per cent of Canadians.

Keep this in mind; there is more to a person than one label. What makes you different, makes you beautiful!