With all the buzz about the Oscars this year, one movie has created a jewel of an opportunity...a regal feast for thought, my fave movie,The Kings Speech. I loved it on so many levels, but especially for the big screen, out-in-the-open struggle with stuttering. I have already talked about that a little in a previous post because I was someone who "bloody well stammers!"...actually as badly if not worse than "Bertie".
While not as savvy as Lionel Logue, the speech therapist in the movie, but one who practically got sick to my stomach whenever I even thought about speaking out loud, I have thought about that stage of my life a lot recently and here are just a few thoughts of my own that may help you or anyone you love who has struggled with stuttering. To keep it in "foodie" terms, here are a baker's dozen worth of thoughts from my own experience that I am inspired to openly share because of The King's Speech, our Women and Wednesdays shout-out.
Baker's Dozen Thoughts about Stuttering
1. Please understand that the core problem is not a reflection of intelligence. I was always in the top of my class all the way through college because my remarkable 4th and 5th grade teachers told me I belonged there. You do, too.
2. The embarrassment and shame are hard to push through, but keep pushing. Find people who accept you as you are and recognize your longing to communicate.
3. Forbid mocking or repeating back the stutter, even in "jest". Twist the tongue of anyone who is cruel enough to do that. People like that are toxic.
4. If it is your child who stutters, make sure they are surrounded by people who understand 1, 2, and 3.
5. If you are a "free" person...one of a small group of people that a stutterer can actually speak freely to and pretty normally around, talk together often...whenever, about anything and everything. Your gift of gab is a life-saveur.
6. Trying to help by finishing words makes everything much worse and the embarrassment greater. The seconds spent suspended in a stutter seem like an eternity but that's the way it is. You cannot shorten or speed things up and encouraging a stutterer with "out with it" is futile.
7. Tongue twisters are fun! I love Sally's shiny seashells sold by the sandy seashore! Plentiful praise poured on popular pal Peter Piper, too!
8. Learn a foreign language...oddly enough those words are often stutter-free. C'est si bon!
9. Sing...even if you are off-key. I joined my school's choir and the music director knew to put me in the back row. My singing voice is flatter than flat but I let it rip anyway and he made sure I was not ever mic'd or even near one.
10. Try "acting" which is often a stutter-free place. You'd be amazed how many popular entertainers stutter. I got many lead roles in my school plays and was almost a live character on the beloved TV series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
11. The butterflies and knots in the stomach remain for a long, long time and guess what, other people have them, too! Public speaking is a fear ranked in almost everyone's top three fears whether they stutter or not. You are not alone.
12. You will survive this.
13. Even kings do it.
Many thanks to all involved with The Kings Speech for this touching and inspirational movie. And for a look into the soul of a remarkable man and the scoundrel of another. Who knew Edward was such a total jerk?