Stuttering On The Screen

GeekMom TV and Movies

My oldest child began stuttering and stammering when he was three years old. The problem started not long after our next child was born. His little sister’s chronic health issues and his parents’ strained attempts at good cheer might have had something to do with it. Or might not. A speech pathologist friend advised us to completely ignore it, explaining that any focus on stuttering was inadvisable at his age. Ignore it we did. The stutter disappeared completely by the time he was six years old, although evidence lingers in old family videos.

Thank goodness our videos have nothing in common with the way stutterers have been portrayed in movies over the years. Slate offers a selection of these clips plus a short, disturbing history of stuttering “cures.”

The newest movie to feature a character with a stutter is based on a ruling member of Britain’s royal family. In The King’s Speech, Colin Firth’s George VI is a dignified individual with personal depth who struggles to speak to his nation in a time of war. While the movie largely relies on old explanations for speech disabilities, it doesn’t take much to elevate the way stuttering has been portrayed in the movies.

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4 thoughts on “Stuttering On The Screen

  1. As a speech pathologist also, I am glad to see this post. I will have to check out the movie as well. I haven’t seen many children who stutter in my practice, but I know it is difficult for the family and the child. Your friend was right on. There is a developmental phases where stuttering is pretty common. Thanks for the enlightening post!

  2. My son stuttered quite a lot when he first started speaking. My doctor also told us not to worry. He told me his mouth hadn’t quite caught up with his brain 🙂

    As in this post, he grew out of it. The only lingering word is when he calls his older sister’s name. There’s some connection there, but I can’t quite figure it out.

  3. Way back in high school I did a small report on Elizabeth II and got distracted reading about her father: I was really impressed by him, particularly the having-to-give-speeches-and-be-kingly-with-a-stutter. I heard buzz about this movie but didn’t know what is was about– now I’m going to have to check it out!

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