Make Room For The Stuttering

What Happens When They Forget?

Posted on: January 24, 2011

I had an interesting conversation Sunday with a friend. She wondered out loud what will happen when the attention surrounding “The King’s Speech” dies down and mainstream forgets about the movie. They will, you know.

By the end of the year, people who don’t stutter won’t even remember the movie. Attention will shift to the slew of movies that are always released at the end of the year, just in time for Academy Award buzz.

My friend mentioned that someone told her that right now, the movie almost makes it “cool to stutter”. A year from now, we will still have to worry about sending the message that it is “OK to stutter”.

In this fast paced world, people’s attentions spans are about as long as my pinkie-finger. We move from one thing to the next at lightening speed. I even have trouble these days recalling what I said an hour ago, unless I write it down. And then I can’t always even read my hand-writing any more. And speech recognition software doesn’t work well if you stutter! I tried it years ago!

So what do we do? How do we keep a reasonable focus on stuttering and remind the world that we are here, competent and able?

Another friend posted on Face book that the DVD and Blue Ray for “The King’s Speech” will be available on April 29, 2011. Who needs to know that? Who will buy the DVD? My bet is that most sales will be to us – people who stutter and people who care about people who stutter.

So we will need to continue educating others, raising awareness, talking about stuttering openly and advocating for ourselves. That includes keeping our blogs and podcasts alive and current, encouraging people who stutter to step out from behind the shadows and do everything we can to eliminate bullying of kids who stutter and workplace discrimination of adults who stutter.

That stuff will still happen. Kids will be teased and adults will be passed over for opportunities because people just don’t understand something outside of their “own world”  realm.

Reminds me of a comment I saw posted on one of the stuttering email groups a few months ago. A woman asked, “are there any women who stutter in high power, visible,management positions?” Like CEO or Executive Director of known businesses?

We hear about Jack Welch of GE (20 minutes from me) and John Stoessel of 20-20 News (but he records his broadcasts and edits out stuttering). And here in my community, we have a male Mayor who stutters. But where are the women who stutter?

That’s why we will still need to keep talking and making our voices heard long after this movie is forgotten. For the kids who come behind us, and for the women who stutter openly that are not visible in those high level positions.

I recently met a woman who stutters who is her company’s Chief Branding Officer and the company is very successful. Hopefully, we will hear her story soon.

But in the meantime, we can’t complacently ride the coat tails of this movie. We who stutter every day and make room for it in our lives will have to be stronger and louder than ever to keep teaching the world that we are OK and what we have to say is important.

What do you think?

8 Responses to "What Happens When They Forget?"

I know about John Stossell, I took note of him becasue he said he was a stutterer, and was amazed how he showed no signs of stuttering at all. I did not know that he edited stuttering out of his broadcasts. I am doing my little part for the kids, as I am in the process of writing a childrens book, which basically shows kids that it is ok to stutter.

Annetta, thats great. Maybe we should have you come back on as a guest and talk about that. Would you be up for that sometime?

That’s a fair point, Pam – and here in the UK we have noticed the start of a media back – lash – one headline I saw read “Haven’t we heard enough of these stutterers and their sob stories. We are riding the wave of euphoria at the moment – let’s hope we can keep it going a while longer!

Pam, I just recently had a long email exchange with a Russian film critic, who in her review of The KIng’s Speech almost left out stuttering and mentioned it as some secondary, not very important sideline thing. She wrote that the moview depicts a relationship between a king and a commoner and shows that a commoner in many aspects is better than the king. I was so outraged, I wrote her and pointed out that this is a movie about overcoming stuttering and living a full life despite of it. her reply was (after removing all polite words and phrases)- you are kidding me, overcoming stuttering could be a theme for a medical documentary, but not for a movie. I sent her a lot of articles, including some of yours, but she just couldn’t get – what is so important about stuttering. Such things make me so mad. Keep writing and keep doing what you are doing, this is very important.

Thanks for sharing that! Good points indeed, on her side as well. The movie is about the important relationship that develops and becomes a friendship. My only “gentle” nudge to you would be that (in my opinion) the King did not overcome stuttering, but rather he overcame the fear of speaking with a stutter. He didn’t stop stuttering at the end, even during his big speech. He managed his stuttering, and spoke comfortably and felt empowered. I think most of us don’t ever actually overcome stuttering – we learn to manage it, for some, in many different ways. Some use techniques, some avoid, some switch words, and some stutter openly. Whatever we do, as long as we do it, and not hold back because of fear, I think that is most important.
If the Russian film critic does not stutter and is not as deeply aware of it as we are, then she might see a completely different story. So then, there are people like us, who will speak up and offer another perspective, right?
Challenging assumptions is a good thing! 🙂

I like your response to Anna. Its always good to see things from somebody else’s point of view.

Without knowledge, how people see things will be so different and so it is for us to enlighten them.

I would come on again Pam, to talk about the book. Hope I will be braver this time….lol.

This movie is helping open the dialogue now and decrease the stigma of stuttering now. Though, the hype of the movie will decrease with time, the emotional reaction that people had to the movie will remain in their minds. That type of response from individuals who do not stutter (who never bothered with the topic in their life) are now talking about stuttering with others, this has a great impact on forever decreasing the stigma of stuttering. Let’s continue to be excited about the huge amount of people talking about stuttering in a healthy way… now!

An interesting dialogue. I feel that you must write more on this subject, it might not be as taboo a subject as you think. however typically people are not comfortable enough to speak or write on such topics. To the next one. Cheers

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