Last summer's massively successful Guardians of the Galaxy brought in over $700 million worldwide and still holds a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was incredibly popular and, as director James Gunn found out, incredibly meaningful to one particular family.
Josh Dunlap, a young father whose son Sawyer suffers from a speech disorder, reached out to Gunn over Facebook to let him know how much the film did for their son.
Sawyer has dyspraxia, a neurological condition that affects gross motor skills, such as walking or jumping. Oromotor dyspraxia, also known as verbal apraxia, affects fine motor skills, making it difficult for the child to move the muscles in his or her mouth. Children with oromotor dyspraxia often have slurred speech and difficulty with enunciation. There is no known cause, but studies have shown that early intervention can help children with oromotor dyspraxia overcome some of their speech challenges.
In his Facebook post, Dunlap writes that "Sawyer could only say about three words" and would communicate in other ways instead. Sawyer connected with Groot and saw his own communication barrier reflected in the way the character was portrayed. After the movie Sawyer began altering his tone and saying " Groot" to expand his ability to communicate.
Dunlap continues to thank Gunn "for a script and movie that was written so well that a four year old, three at that time, could connect with someone who had the same language barrier."
Read Dunlap's full post below, including Gunn's reply.