March 11, 2011
“The King’s Speech” success brings voice to speech therapy
Since “The King’s Speech” premiered last December, the Stuttering Foundation of America, a nonprofit educational and referral organization, reported receiving call after call from individuals inspired to take control of their own speech problems. The film, recounting the efforts of King George VI and an eccentric speech therapist to overcome the monarch’s debilitating stutter during WWII, recently earned four Oscar’s, including Best Picture, bringing global attention to the vital work of speech-language pathologists, including those trained through Harding University’s Communication Sciences and Disorders program and those currently working in the Harding University Speech and Hearing Clinic.
“Harding has served a significant role in training the speech-language pathologists that are currently serving all over the world,” the chair of the Communication Sciences and Disorders program, Dr. Dan Tullos, said. “I am happy that people who see [“The King’s Speech”] will finally understand what it is that we [speech-language pathologists] do. Perhaps the greatest impact, however, involves the realistic voice that Colin Firth as King George VI has given to individuals who stutter.”
For 58 years, the speech clinic has provided speech therapy services for Harding students, faculty and staff, their families and members of the community at little or no cost. The 150 undergraduate students and 33 graduate students currently enrolled in the program conduct therapy sessions under the close supervision of a nationally certified and state licensed speech-language pathologist, with clients benefiting from their pairing with individuals at the forefront of the speech pathology field.
Amy Smith of McRae enrolled her son, Gunner, into the program in the fall 2010 and now confidently reports seeing significant improvement in her 3-year-old’s communication disorder.
“They [the clinic’s staff] have worked so diligently with the small stuff,” Smith said. “What is day-to-day for everyone else is a milestone for us, like sentences. They rejoice with me in the milestones.”
Jennifer Fisher, the current clinic director, reported that the clinic is serving approximately 65 clients this semester and offers free diagnostic, evaluation and management services for speech and language disorders.
“I feel the mission of our clinic is to be the client’s advocate in his or her journey to being the best communicator possible,” Fisher said. “We strive to build trusting relationships that promote improvement of the client’s goals to be a better communicator. [“The King’s Speech”] was a beautiful story that accurately portrayed the struggles and frustrations that accompany a communication disorder.”
For more information about the clinic, please call 501-279-4599.