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King’s Speech

The new movie, “The King’s Speech,” focuses on the struggle of King George VI of Britain to come to terms with his stuttering and inspire a nation. We’re delighted to see a film that accurately depicts the experience of people who stutter through the compelling story of a real-life hero.

We hope the movie’s popularity will raise awareness of stuttering and encourage people to talk about it. NSA chapters across the country are working to continue the conversation about stuttering when the movie is shown in their communities.

When you see “The King’s Speech,” you should be aware that the movie takes place at a time when stuttering was believed to be a mental disorder. We now know that stuttering is mostly physiological in origin and often genetic.

Speech therapy was in its infancy in the 1930s, and many of the techniques used in the film have been replaced by more effective methods. While there is no cure, today’s speech-language pathologists can help most people who stutter improve their speech, especially in combination with support groups.  Early intervention for pre-school children who stutter is particularly helpful.

What has not changed since King George’s time is that stuttering is still widely misunderstood and expert treatment is hard to find.

The good news is that you don’t have to be a king to succeed as a person who stutters. People who stutter are achieving success in every walk of life.

NSA Keynote Speaker Announced!!!! Click here to find out who!

Stories about The King's Speech movie which cite the NSA:
" 'King's Speech' puts spotlight on often-misunderstood impairment", January 1st, 2010

 

Only media piece I have seen about the movie in the Albany NY area. I was very happy to have a second article published by the Times Union on stuttering in less than 3 months time.

Thanks, Pam Mertz 

<<Click here to read
 

"Film could bridge a gap," a November 25, 2010

..."'We hope the movie will help people to accept the stuttering community and to help those people who stutter to not feel ashamed of their stuttering,' said Mortman, co-leader of the Rockville chapter of the National Stuttering Association."...

"Wallace, who lives in Prince George's County, serves on the National Stuttering Association board of directors. At meetings, members share personal experiences, exchange techniques on how to improve their speech and discuss the latest research and news related to stuttering. 'For me, it's the best thing that's ever happened to me,' Wallace said."...

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"Colin Firth's interviews on stuttering strike a chord with Tampa parents," November 27, 2010

..."Through her quest to learn more, Sheryl [Hunter] joined support groups. She now serves on the board of the National Stuttering Association, working as the co-chairwoman of family programs for 25 youth chapters nationwide. She often counsels parents when their children have been diagnosed. 'I tell them the worst thing to do is to not acknowledge it,' Sheryl said. 'I think they're afraid of their child realizing it as a problem, but I think kids know it. They know when something is not right.'"...

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Prompted by The King's Speech, the November 29, 2010 NBC Nightly News featured a story on stuttering, which included soundbites from NSA board member/Washington, DC area speech pathologist Vivian Sisskin as well as some comments from one of her patients.Click here to watch the TV story online, what ran on the NBC Nightly News.

Online, the MSNBC Web site has four additional two-to-three minute "web exclusive" video reports with a lot more that didn't make it into what aired:

- More from Vivian Sisskin and some of her patients. Sisskin provides a very good explanation for the causes.

- A man who explains his struggles.

- The film's director, Tom Hooper, talking about how to portray stuttering on the big screen.

- The film's screenwriter, David Seidler, talking about his stuttering and why he wrote the movie.

"The King's Speech Likely to Break Stuttering Stereotypes: New Film Likely to Do for Stuttering What Rain Man Did for Autism and As Good As It Gets for OCD,"   November 30, 2010  

..."'This is a movie that really shows stuttering in a realistic light,' [Steven] Kaufman, of Plainview, N.Y., head of the Long Island chapter of the National Stuttering Association, an advocacy organization for youngsters and adults who stutter, said in an interview Monday.

"'For the longest time, there's been many Hollywood movies that have used stuttering as a joke; as a punch line for comedic effect.' He pointed to the Loony Tunes cartoon character Porky Pig and Michael Palin's severely stuttering character in A Fish Called Wanda. 'In The King's Speech, the portrayal of somebody who stutters is so open, so raw, so honest, it doesn't pull any punches,' he said."...

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Prompted by a bunch of Golden Globe nominations for The King's Speech, Tuesday's (Dec 14) ABC World News ended with a look at stuttering. The story included soundbites from Dennis Drayna, a presenter at several NSA conferences, and David Seidler, the movie's screenwriter who will be the keynote speaker at July's NSA conference in Ft. Worth.

Seidler: "To be a stutterer and to be heard is a wonderful thing and
this is just very, very moving to me to have my voice heard."

To watch the story click HERE:

"Members of stuttering organization give a thumbs-up to new motion picture", December 20, 2010

Jim McClure wrote: It's one of the few that mentions the NSA. The reporter called me to answer a few final questions when she was on deadline and unable to reach the local folks quickly, but Ilm proud of the way Tracey and others got their points across, including information about the Rockville chapter.
 

<<Click here to read

"LOCAL therapists praise 'The King's Speech'", December 9, 2010

"The King's Speech" has been getting good reviews from film critics and audiences alike.

It means more to one group of viewers, though - those who understand first-hand the challenges facing the title character.

<<<Click here to read AND listen to Local Therapist

"You don't have to be the king of England to get help if you stutter"

The new movie "The King's Speech," which focuses on the speech therapy of King George VI of England, is being shown in Tucson theaters beginning last weekend. Thank you for publishing an article in Caliente on Thursday about "The King's Speech." The movie is likely to raise awareness about stuttering, and people should be aware that speech professionals have learned a lot about stuttering since the 1930s.

<<<Click here to read

"Sometimes words fail
In the lab and on the screen, stuttering gets its close-up."

Robin Sullivan was 10 when she first began looking for information about her stutter. She'd had the speech disorder for as long as she could remember — one of her earliest memories is of lying on a table practicing breathing exercises.

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"The King's Speech encourages stuttering awareness for Houston teens", January 3, 2011

Stuttering affects about 1 percent or three million Americans. For teens who stutter that means there's not a lot of kids out there who understand how hard it can be when you can't get someone to understand you.

<<<Click here to read

"Stuttering group to introduce 'King's Speech'", December 24, 2010

The local chapter of the National Stuttering Association will give a brief presentation before showings of “The King’s Speech” at the Regal Cinemas Green Hills Commons theaters at the Mall at Green Hills on Saturday and Sunday.

<<<Click here to read

"‘King’s Speech’ film inspires stuttering group", December 26, 2010

The Rochester chapter of the National Stuttering Association is using the real-life story of England’s King George VI to offer support to people with the speech impediment.

<<<Click here to read

"Philip French: my life as a stammerer

The Observer's film critic reflects on The King's Speech – and how his own speech impediment has contributed to his life and character", December 26, 2010

Very interesting piece about stuttering and The Kings Speech which included a statement that I hadn’t seen before:

“All the now familiar boxes of causation are ticked, though the charismatic Logue, who treated the king over two decades, insists that the problem is physiological . . . .”

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"Lessons can be learned from 'The King's Speech'", December 30, 2010

The Omaha World Herald interviewed Tracy Daley, NSA chapter leader, for a story they were doing about stuttering and The King's Speech.

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"National Stuttering Association: Raising Awareness", January 7, 2011

When "The King's Speech" opened in Syracuse last weekend, at least a few moviegoers were hoping the film's rising Oscar buzz helps prompt a national dialogue on the cause and treatment of stuttering.

<<< Click here to read

 

"Stuttering gets the royal treatment", January 8, 2011

 

 

Stutterers, long the butt of jokes and bullying, are finally emerging from the nightmare many have lived, thanks to a new British film that explores one famous man's struggle.

<<< Click here to read

"Overcoming the Secret Shame of Stuttering!", December 27, 2010

Words wouldn't come out of Osman Quereshi's mouth without a fight.

Like carbonated bubbles in a stoppered bottle, his words were often corked up inside him by a stutter. Fearing humiliation, he was easily rendered speechless by a teacher's question or every stutterer's nightmare, a classroom read-aloud exercise.

<<< Click here to read

"The King's Speech puts spotlight on stuttering", January 13, 2011 GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- Two decades ago, the movie Rain Man, placed autism in the national spotlight. Now, another movie is raising awareness for another often misunderstood condition.

<<<Click here to watch the news video

" 'The King's Speech' inspires an outpouring", January 16, 2011 Last week’s column on the movie "The King’s Speech," dealing with speech impediments including stuttering and how to overcome them, got a lot of response. Check out these inspiring stories of people who are making the communication connection after a lot of hard work and determination.

<<<Click here to read

"Stuttering Remains Mystery", January 15, 2011 People in the stuttering community are giving The Kind's Speech high praise for portraying a person who stutters as a real hero. Rachel McNeil report son the mystery of stuttering.

<<< Click here to watch the news

"Stutterers hope new film 'The King's Speech' shed light on communication disorder", January 19, 2011 <<< Click here to read and watch video of the leader of a support group in Eugene, Orgeon

 

Stories and interviews with those on-screen and off behind The King’s Speech movie in which they discuss stuttering:
"A Director on the Verge," a November 19, 2010 Wall Street Journal profile of Tom Hooper, who directed the movie, discussed how he tried to make actor Colin Firth’s stuttering appear as realistic as possible:

...Mr. Hooper, his lanky frame angled on a wooden bench, recalled studying footage of an earlier speech of Bertie's. "You see the longing in his eyes. He just wants to do it well. He keeps getting caught in these terrible silences. He's drowning in it," the director said.

He could do little to help Mr. Firth master the throaty clicks and gurgles of the king's halting speech pattern. But Mr. Hooper initially disagreed with the actor about how severe the impediment should be on film. "I think he was scared of committing to the fact he was going to stammer on every line of the movie. But I really believed that it had to be a profound problem, not something that we could reduce for convenience of pace," the director says.

Though Mr. Firth worried about alienating audiences, he was persuaded by the director not to edit himself. "He scored that very precisely," the actor says, adding, "I've very rarely felt that so many of the decisions I've made in a performance I've owed to a director."...

"The Pillaged Voice," an article in the November 22 edition of Newsweek profiled David Seidler, a former stutterer, who wrote the screenplay for the film.

...It's a story that the English-born, American-bred Seidler has wanted to tell all his life, for he grew up a stutterer himself. As a child on Long Island, where his family had fled to avoid the German bombs, Seidler had taken inspiration from King George's wartime radio broadcasts, knowing that the king had suffered from, and overcome, their common condition. Seidler underwent years of speech therapy and essentially cured himself at 16 — an internal switch went off, and he converted self-pity into rage at his condition.

Yet his disability is still deeply ingrained in his identity. "You carry it within you for a long time. I'm still a stutterer, but I've learned all the tricks so that you don't hear it," he says in his deep, cultured, fluent voice. Stutterers, he explains, grow up feeling they have no voice, that they can't be heard: they see in the eyes of their pained listeners that they have no right to speak.

The film's triumph has helped release Seidler's inner mute button. At the conclusion of the gala presentation of The King's Speech at the Toronto film festival in September, 2,000 people rose to their feet to give the filmmakers an ovation. "I was overwhelmed," Seidler says, "because for the first time ever, the penny dropped and I felt I had a voice and had been heard. For a stutterer, it's a profound moment." When the spotlight shone on the film's cast and crew, "there I was blubbering, the mucus and the tears coming down! This has been a very cathartic experience."...

Colin Firth, star of The King’s Speech, on the November 24, 2010 Live with Regis and Kelly. 2:45 in length clip where he talked about the challenges stuttering present.

 wmv clip downloadable from HERE

Colin Firth on NBC’s Today show on November 25, 2010 where he talked about how his sister is a speech therapist and he relied on her advice for how to mimic a stutter. 1:45 in length clip.

 wmv downloadable from HERE.
"Colin Firth speaks words of love in The King's Speech," a November 26, 2010 USA Today look at how star Colin Firth took on the challenge of trying to make the stuttering appear genuine and noted his awareness of the backlash against A Fish Called Wanda:

...The primary struggle for Firth was emulating Bertie's stammer without it becoming comical. "There are all kinds of reasons why it could have undermined the whole film," he says. Consider how Monty Python's Michael Palin caused an uproar with his clownish stutterer in 1988's A Fish Called Wanda. And Porky Pig certainly hasn't done the afflicted any favors over the years.

Firth recalls one sympathetic portrait: Brad Dourif's Billy Bibbit in 1975's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It also didn't hurt to have the actor responsible for probably the greatest stuttering performance ever in the cast as a handy reference. Derek Jacobi, who plays the Archbishop of Canterbury, was lauded for doing justice to the malady suffered by the titular Roman emperor in the 1976 BBC series I, Claudius.

The key, Firth says, is not trying to stutter, but trying not to stutter. "The audience doesn't want to see you trying to be anything," he says. "All that should be on display is the character's attempt to come out of his dilemma."

There is also the danger of annoying the audience, too. "You got to feel the pain in this, but not so much that people say, 'I've got to get out of the cinema,' " he observes. "You've got to get the idea across that it takes this guy an hour to get a word out. But you only have a 90-minute film. You've got to try to establish this by stealth. Tom was very careful about scoring the stutter level."...

 "New Movie Focuses on Overcoming Stuttering: The King's Speech puts stuttering in the spotlight," a posting with matching video of a November 29, 2010 on-air story on Washington, DC's Fox-affiliated WTTG-TV channel 5. Story focuses on NSA member Edward Neufville and expert information from NSA board member Vivian Sisskin.  
"Revealed: The little sister who taught Colin Firth to stammer for acclaimed role in The King's Speech", January 24, 2011 << Click here to read
"The last word: My strangled speech", January 14, 2011 << Click here to read

 

No mention of NSA, but about stuttering:
"A constant struggle to get the words out: But like King George VI, stutterers can overcome frustration, humiliation," a November 29 USA Today article, has a sidebar listing of "famous people who stuttered."
"With Vulnerability and Fortitude", January 19, 2011 << Click here to read
Chapter co-leader Robin and NSA member Phil Schneider were quoted in the Health section of the LA Times. The article had good information and quotes. << Click here to read

Guests:

Mark Logue
co-writer "The King's Speech"
filmaker, grandson of Lionel Logue

Vivian Sisskin
Dept. of Hearing and Speech Sciences
University of Maryland

Shelley Brundage
associate professor,
Speech and Hearing Sciences,
George Washington University
 

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Slate magazine has a brief article on "The King's Speech" and stuttering in the movies in general.
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"A king, an LI screenwriter and stuttering", January 19, 2011 Screenwriter David Seidler of Great Neck, who wrote "The King's Speech," knows the pain of stuttering. "If you can survive a childhood of stuttering," he says, "you can survive anything."

<<<Click here to watch a video

"Stuttering, even if not as severe as in 'The King's Speech,' can be shameful", December 20. 2010 What I remember most about my stutter is not the stupefying vocal paralysis, the pursed eyes or the daily ordeal of gagging on my own speech, sounds ricocheting off the back of my teeth like pennies trying to escape a piggy bank.

<<< Click here to read

"The King's Speech means stammerers understood

Just as The King's Speech puts a spotlight on children who stammer, services to help them are being cut", January 17, 2011
 

"Brilliant", said my son at the end of The King's Speech. "People might feel what it's like having gremlins in your mouth that stop words coming out." Max is 19 and has stammered since he was five.

Thanks to Colin Firth's searingly accurate portrayal of stammering, people are beginning to understand that this isn't just an annoying inconvenience. It can stifle a child's personality and crush his confidence.

<<<Click here to read


Colin Firth speaks words of love in 'The King's Speech'    Read More

Colin Firth as Britain's King George VI- interview and real king clips    Read More

The King's Speech- Movie Trailer    Read More

'The King's Speech' is the talk of the Toronto Film Festival    Read More


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