Treating the King Georges of Calgary: U of A stuttering institute expands to Calgary

16 February 2011

Calgary, AB-Eight-year-old Tyler MacDonald can relate to Colin Firth's King George from The King's Speech. Just last year, Tyler lacked confidence and was too frightened to put up his hand in class because of his stutter.

"He didn't want to be in social settings. He didn't like going to school or hockey," says Terry MacDonald, Tyler's father.

The University of Alberta's Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research (ISTAR) expanded to Calgary to help people just like Tyler. After ISTAR's speech therapy treatment, Tyler is now a confident tyke who loves playing hockey. He likes school now too.

"I'm also better friends with my dad," adds Tyler. Before, Tyler inadvertently only talked to his mom most of the time. Now, he and his father are best friends.

"My relationship with my son has improved so much after being involved in his treatment at ISTAR," says Terry. "Tyler's progress in school and sports has improved as a result of his new confidence because of ISTAR."

ISTAR at the U of A's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine has been offering specialized treatment to children, teens and adults who stutter since 1986. It is also a world leader in stuttering research. ISTAR has expanded its Calgary office this winter, ensuring Calgarians who stutter have the opportunity to receive the treatment they need.

"Stuttering can have serious emotional, social and vocational consequences for adults and school-age children," says Marilyn Langevin, acting executive director of ISTAR. "It can limit children from reaching their potential in school and limit adults from seeking the work that they, in their hearts, want to do." She adds, "Our recent research shows that stuttering can even prevent preschoolers from participating or leading peers in play. Play is hugely important for children."

"Stuttering affects as many as 11 per cent of preschool children. Expanding our services to Calgary and building awareness around stuttering is important. We want to serve as many Albertans as we can," says Martin Ferguson-Pell, dean, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

The ISTAR Calgary satellite office is located just north of downtown in the Hillhurst Building. For more information, visit

About the University of Alberta Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine
As the only free standing faculty of rehabilitation in North America, the University of Alberta Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine balances its activities among learning, discovery and citizenship (including clinical practice). A research leader in musculoskeletal health, spinal cord injuries, stuttering, seniors' health and common spinal disorders (back pain), the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine aims to improve the quality of life of citizens in our community. The three departments, Occupational Therapy (OT), Physical Therapy (PT) and Speech Pathology and Audiology (SPA) offer professional entry programs.