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
development and reinforces the need for further research in this area, Prof Onslow says.
"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.