Speech Therapy in the Movies

After finishing up a lesson plan the other night, I collapsed in front of the television and switched on the guide. HBO was showing a great little film, The King's Speech. It had been awhile since I saw it last, so I grabbed some popcorn and got comfy. Okay it was a glass of wine, not popcorn. Don't judge me!

Starring Colin Firth, The King's Speech was one of the most talked about films of 2011. This small British film about the real life relationship between an unorthodox speech therapist and his “royal” client was the big winner at the Academy Awards. It garnered four Oscars (including Best Picture and Best Actor), and enormous critical praise.

It also cast a spotlight on what myself and my colleagues do for a living. It's kind of cool to see your profession explained to a certain degree to the masses. Especially one that is not glamorous or well-publicized.

I remember wondering at the time if the film would do for the SLP profession what Top Gun did for the Navy's recruitment numbers.

While it’s doubtful hundreds of thousands of students immediately enrolled in college speech therapy programs (Let’s face facts: for all his acting prowess, Geoffrey Rush is no Tom Cruise, and speech pathologists don’t have cool nicknames like Ice, Goose and Maverick. Dipthong-dude, Gullet-gal and Lisp-lady aren’t nearly as catchy!) the movie at least focused on our noble profession.

The King’s Speech tells the intriguing tale of Lionel Logue, a transplanted Australian Speech Therapist living in England who single-handedly helps King George V1 overcome a debilitating stammer at a time when his country needed him to speak in a strong, commanding voice.

Petrified of public speaking for fear of being humiliated, George puts himself in Logue’s hands and after working with him, delivers a near-flawless wartime speech that simultaneously both calms and fires up his nation.

Logue was considered a bit of a rogue back then, utilizing his own unconventional techniques to get through to his clients; a lesson we should all take note of.

Patients (and your kids, parents!) respond differently to different techniques, different therapists and different treatments. If they're not sparking to something, feel free to mix it up and introduce different elements. We all want the same thing in the end; success!

In my book, it’s totally okay to improvise when necessary. Whatever it takes!

If you ever have the opportunity to watch The King's Speech, do it! It's great.

And parents, watch it with your kids. They'll see that some of the most influential people in history had to deal with speech issues, and overcame them on the way to great success.

Cheers to you, Mr. Logue!

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