Stuttering shouldn't be ignored as a minor handicap. It can have long term effects and even prove devastating, says Mark Onslow, Foundation Director of the Australian Stuttering Research Centre.
The award-winning film The King's Speech shows the profound impact the problem can have on one's
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"The King's Speech is an outstanding film but presents a somewhat controlled depiction of stuttering in comparison to many of the debilitating cases we see clinically," he said.
"Without early intervention, stuttering can have a devastating impact on an individual's academic, emotional, social and occupational potential and development."
Professor Onslow also suggests that while the film implied that the King's condition was a result of childhood trauma and the pressures of an overbearing father, stuttering is in fact not psychological in origin.
"Stuttering is a physical disorder related to neural processing, however of course anxiety or stressful situations can make it worse and if left untreated, stuttering can indeed lead to life-long psychological problems."
Professor Onslow suggests that stuttering is a rather mysterious condition as it occurs very suddenly in children after a period of normal speech and if not addressed prior to pre-school years can be extremely hard to treat.
The Australian Stuttering Research Centre at the University of Sydney's Faculty of Health Sciences is credited with developing the ground-breaking Lidcombe Program, the world's first evidence-based stuttering treatment for pre-school children which is now used worldwide.
"There is still a lot we don't know about stuttering and that is why the work of the Australian Stuttering Research Centre is so important," Professor Onslow said.
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