‘The King's Speech' gets Oklahomans talking

“The King's Speech,” a film about a stutterer, has Oklahomans talking about the affliction, which affects about 1 percent of the population.
BY KEN RAYMOND kraymond@opubco.com Modified: February 22, 2011 at 11:05 am •  Published: February 22, 2011
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“He was kind of over the top with his techniques, but the pausing he did, the singing therapy, the reading out loud — those are all things we do,” Washburn said. “At the beginning of the movie, when he put the headphones on the king and turned the music up really loud, that's a technique called masking. We use that.”

Robinson's stutter had abated until about three years ago, when he stopped practicing the exercises that helped him speak.

“Also I kind of let some of the old fears back in about stuttering,” he said. “When I would think about situations in which I'd have to speak, I'd get scared and think, ‘Oh no, I'm going to stutter.' ... If you let fear back in, you're going to get worse.”

Naturally tense situations, such as delivering a lecture or going to a job interview, often are more difficult for people with communication disabilities.

Dawkins remembers feeling helpless in a former job.

“I was called in to deal with this customer complaint,” he said. “The customer was really upset and angry, borderline abusive. I was trying to talk to this person, but the environment was really tense, just an assault on the senses kind of thing, and I'm trying to tell them what our policy is, and I'm having trouble communicating.

“My speech is blocked, and I can't get it out.”

He was embarrassed and felt humiliated.

“Imagine asking a girl out on a date,” he said. “It's already one of those things that you're nervous about. The one thing you're thinking is ‘Don't stutter. Don't stutter.' And guess what you're likely to do in that situation: Stutter even worse.”

Dawkins and Robinson said they hope the film makes people realize that stutterers are as smart as everyone else. They just have a harder time getting the words out.

“Let people finish their sentences,” Dawkins said. “Let them speak. In truth, their words are who they are.”


Support group meetings

The National Stuttering Foundation holds monthly support group meetings in the student center dining room at Rose State College in Midwest City.

Meetings are from 6 to 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month.

For more information, contact Craig Dawkins at 733-7466 or cadman12@swbell.net.

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