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Speech Therapists--I Applaud You

Posted Dec 28 2010 12:13pm

The King's Speech sings the praises of a speech therapist, typically an unsung hero. The movie is about Britain's King George VI’s (Colin Firth) struggle with an embarrassing stutter for years until he seeks help from unorthodox Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).

While I don’t have the same stuttering problem as King George VI, I do have voice and speech challenges as a result of Parkinson’s Disease and Deep Brain Stimulation. Identifying with King George VI (“Bertie”), I feel the agony of Bertie, similar to the discomfort that I experience when struggling to get my words out. I empathize with his self-consciousness and his lack of spontaneity in speaking. Bertie is reluctant to let his guard down and have fun with his untrustworthy voice and speech. He dreads the microphone, while I dread the telephone. His constricted throat and voice cause him to seize up while speaking. Bertie's pauses and silences are humiliating and torturous, and listeners are embarrassed on his behalf.

I admire the novel approach of Lionel, the speech therapist, particularly during the time period in England when elocution was the focus of speech therapy. Lionel does everything possible to help Bertie break his entrenched pattern of stuttering. He instructs Bertie to read out loud while Lionel simultaneously plays a recording of orchestra music in the background. Bertie becomes nearly stammer-free, at least temporarily, during that exercise. Lionel forces Bertie to sing tongue-twisters as a way to help with the smooth flow of his spoken words. He encourages Bertie to bellow vowels out the window. Lionel insists that Bertie combine speaking with movement by doing speech exercises while waltzing.

I am blessed to work with speech therapists who are willing to use innovative methods to help me with my speech and voice problems.

They inspire me when I lose hope.

They listen when others fail to understand. 

They calm me when I am angry and frustrated.

They instruct me by their words and example.

They challenge me to be all that I can be.

Just as the audience applauds at the end ofThe King's Speech, I applaud speech therapists for helping me regain my voice and express myself.

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