Speech-language pathologists have a wonderful opportunity to work with adults that, for myriad reasons, have lost or suffered impairment in their ability to communicate successfully. This population may include people who have suffered from a stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and people who stutter.
Recently in the media, two stories have been portrayed of two rather famous adults with communication difficulties. The first that I became aware of was of former French Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered a massive stroke that left him with a condition called locked-in syndrome. He was completely paralyzed except for his left eye, could only make minimal head movements, and was unable to speak. He worked with a team of speech-pathologists to create a partner assisted scanning system to communicate by blinking his left eye to identify letters on the scanning system. With this system, Jean-Dominique was able to tell his story in The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, a novel that was published in 1997 and has since become a major motion picture. It reportedly took an average of two minutes to translate each word, and a total of about 200,000 blinks to complete the novel!
The King’s Speech, a 2010 British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler, tells the story of King George VI who struggled to overcome his fluency disorder in a very public arena. He enlisted speech pathologist Lionel Logue to help him improve his speech. As a result of his efforts with Mr. Logue, King George the VI gave a radio address in September 1929, announcing England’s declaration of war with Nazi Germany. His historic speech was powerful and fluent. The King’s Speech went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Original Screenplay.
Seeing how communication disorders affect the lives of adults in the media can provide a sense of community and a sense of hope to individuals and their families who suffer with communication disorders in their day-to-day lives. I encourage you to watch and enjoy these films!
Kim Kallman, MS, CCC-SLP