You might be surprised at how many famous people have struggled with a speech disorder. James Earl Jones developed a stutter as a child. So did Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, and Tiger Woods. Influential orators have also dealt with the issue, including Winston Churchill. And King George VI’s stuttering problem was made famous by the Hollywood hit, “The King’s Speech,” starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter. While the screenwriter took certain liberties with historical facts (the compression of events into a shorter time period, for one), this can be forgiven since the primary focus of “The King’s Speech” is how George VI overcame his stutter.
James Earl Jones began his career in theater, but his first breakout film role was in “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” Since then, his meteoric rise to fame has included numerous voiceovers for roles like Mufasa in “The Lion King.” “Star Wars” fanatics everywhere can immediately identify Jones as the infamous, deep voice of Darth Vader. But the man who would give Darth Vader his trademark voice had previously lost his. In fact, James Earl Jones suffered a debilitating speech disorder in his childhood. Because of it, Jones remained functionally mute for eight years. If it hadn’t been for the tenacity of a high school English teacher, Darth Vader might have had a much less impressive voice.
As a parent, one of the hardest things is to see your child struggle. We wish we could protect them from everything, including being bullied or feeling low self-esteem because of a difference. As a child with a speech disorder grows older and begins to attend playgroups and school, other children might call attention to the differences in his speech and language patterns. Having positive role models who also struggled with these issues might help your child overcome this. Numerous celebrities have been diagnosed with speech disorders, including lisps. Discuss these stories with your child and remind him that he can accomplish anything he puts his mind to.