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Researchers who study stuttering say they are hopeful a new movie will raise awareness about the disorder.

The King's Speech, a film to be released in Canada next month, is based on the true story of how King George VI, father of the Queen, overcame a debilitating stammer with the help of an unorthodox speech therapist.

Colin Firth plays King George VI and Geoffrey Rush plays Lionel Logue, who used breathing exercises and a form of Freudian therapy to help his royal client. The film was screened at the Toronto film festival in September.

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"In the film, he got a lot of benefit from his speech therapist. But I think he never considered himself cured. He was able to manage his stuttering much better," said University of Oxford scientist Kate Watkins.

Breathing exercises are still used to help people overcome stuttering, she added, but the idea that stuttering stems from traumatic events in childhood isn't credible.

Michigan State University scientist Soo-Eun Chang said Mr. Firth's performance is authentic.

"He didn't overdo the stuttering."

Most movies portray people who stutter as weird or anxious, or not intelligent, she said.

"This is very exciting. It can be a debilitating disorder. Children are teased awfully at school. It can be really bad. But compared to dyslexia or autism, not a lot of interest has been given to stuttering.

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About the Author

Anne McIlroy has been a journalist for more than 25 years. She joined the Globe in 1996, and has been the science reporter as well as the parliamentary bureau chief. She studied journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa. More

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