Popular movies & shows that could’ve used an ASLP!

Entertainment media is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reach people. The industry has never missed an opportunity to portray and highlight anything and everything pertaining to life. Hence, it is also an effective way of ‘educating’ people.

Mentioning education reminds me of how our professors used to make media references for subject matters. One Professor would talk about developmental reflexes and link it to the Johnson’s baby ad! Another Professor used to constantly refer to movies like ‘Black’ and others to keep us alert. Recently, I happened to attend a talk by an eminent speaker who started off by referencing the movie ‘Vertigo’. The more and more I think about it, I realize how I have also started relating and linking to popular shows and movies like my mentors!

Personally, I love entertainment. I love how we drift away, at least for a little while, chiming with scenes on screen. Nevertheless, I am also someone who asks a lot of questions. That is why the curious ASLP in me decided to present to you a few movies (from my personal favorites). Let us begin the discussion on how and why an ASLP should have appeared in the list below.

  1. Barfi

One film that is very close to my heart. The flawless characterization, locations, music – everything about the movie is highly appreciable. The plot revolves around a street wise, charming guy (Barfi) with hearing impairment and consequent absence of speech. Soon, he is in need for money and kidnaps his rich childhood friend (a person with Autism) for ransom. There is another person, an ex-girlfriend, who first leaves Barfi because of his disability and then wants him back in her life later.

What makes me curious here is, if Barfi had undergone a newborn hearing screening, his parents might have thought of early intervention. That would have enabled language and speech development for Barfi and his girlfriend would not have left him because of those reasons. The other case is that of Jhimil. Several scenes portrayed how she would throw tantrums that were often unmanageable by her family and caretakers. Not being able to communicate had distanced her from her family and social circle. If she had a SLP help her out and access to the entire Rehabilitation Services, none of this would have happened, right? An entirely different plot then?

2. Grey’s Anatomy

Also, I was thinking about how a dysphagia (medical term for swallowing difficulties) screening and assessment would have helped all those patients who were on alternative mode of feeding (mostly NG tube). There was also a scene with a patient diagnosed with ‘vocal nodule’ and they had decided to surgically remove it. The patient could have first tried management techniques prescribed by a SLP. Even if the patient underwent surgery, post surgery vocal care is warranted. All of which is a part of a SLP’s job.

3. Su…Su..Sudhi Vathmeekam

A Malayalam blockbuster starring ‘Jayasurya’. The plot rightly explains about the childhood and teenage hardships of a person with stuttering and how it reflects on his behaviors and general attitude as an adult. While the movie was successful in spreading awareness about the struggles of a person with stuttering, few questions remained.

Though the movie showed how the character works around his problems and succeeds, the portrayal of the role of speech therapy was inadequate. SLPs are trained to manage stuttering of various etiologies from the very beginning of their training. Few people with stuttering may not completely recover from it but they learn to manage it competently with the help of a SLP. They are definitely not dismissed saying ‘there is no cure’.

4. The Good Doctor

Another fantastic show about surgeons. The highlight of this show is that, the ‘Good Doctor’ is a person with Autism. Tremendous characterization and casting. It tells people about how we can be more inclusive and understand problems of persons with a disability.

I also noticed that there are several mentions in the show about how this character struggles with a communication breakdown. He finds it frustrating and often lashes out because of that. Similarly, there is also a scene depicting a patient (teen) with Autism who gets admitted for a surgery. He has sensory issues and is constantly triggered by his environment until the doctor with Autism begins communicating with him. He finally feels comforted because he feels understood!

These are all exemplary movies or shows and definitely tops the list of my personal favorites. I would have loved it more if they had thought about these aspects too! This list came off the top of my head as soon as I started writing. Feel free to discuss in the comments if you can think of anything more.

6 thoughts on “Popular movies & shows that could’ve used an ASLP!

  1. Wonderful write up, I totally agree I feel our profession seems to be left out especially in many movies that show disabled people, we do play a vital role yet no one recognises us

  2. Oh man, really loved this article. The next time I watch these shows/movies, I’m going to be reminded of this article. Really puts the ASLP profession in a comprehensible perspective!

  3. Great read! If I had to add on to the list, ‘The King’s Speech’ would’ve made an appearance. That movie gave us a glimpse of what early stuttering therapy looked like by a ‘non-medically trained’ professional, but perhaps one of the earliest portrayals of fluency intervention!

    1. Ah! Yes. Thank you that! There are a lot more such movies and series you know? Whatever I typed out here was just from the top of my head at that point. We really ought to urge the media to throw some light on this. High time!

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