Have you seen the movie ‘The King’s Speech’? Oral Language is one of the skill sets required for literacy so I was particularly interested in seeing the film. Based on the true story of the Prince of Wales prior to becoming King George VI, the story is centered on the problem of the Prince’s severe stutter. (In the UK they apply the term ‘stammering’). If stuttering is not treated by the onset of puberty it will never be cured but only managed at best.
Early days of speech therapy
Speech therapy and pathology were in their infancy as a profession when the Prince sought help. The techniques used by Lionel Logue in this film were simple and created out of need after WWI soldiers returned with head injuries and acquired speech impairments. Some of Logue’s devised techniques are associated with what we currently know and treat the disorder. The film beautifully portrayed the strong relationship required in the “treatment” process. While the King was taking an obvious risk, every individual in speech therapy treatment is vulnerable and benefits from a strong support system at home.
Characteristics of a stutter
The onset of stuttering occurs around two years of age. It is spasmodic in nature, appearing for a period then disappearing. When it reappears the symptoms and the stutter are always typically worse.
3 Stages of Stuttering
- Stage 1: Repetitions, typically at the start of a sentence, e.g. my my my my my mummy
- Stage 2: Prolongations, e.g. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmy mummy
- Stage 3: Blocking: Sounds and words cannot be verbalised
Recommendations for a stutter
Stuttering is outside the realm of PLD’s service offering but we work closely with speech pathologists and speech therapists to develop our content. In every case of stuttering, a WA Speech Pathologist should be enlisted to help. Treatment should begin as early as possible (under 4 years of age). Early intervention most often means the treatment phase is minimised. The longer it is left, the more ingrained the stutter and generally the lengthier the treatment.