Spasmodic Dysphonia Voice Clinic Participants Experiences Since 2005
February 2013 Clinic - Apollo Beach, FloridaL-R: front row, Christine, LMT, Sharyn, Connie, SLP; second row, Corrine, Gary, Candace; back row, Dennis, LMT, Gordon, Chuck
Sharyn: AB/SD diagnosed in 1990 by Dr. Herbert Dedo, and again in 2012 by Dr. Albert Merati, but as AB/SD with MTD: Self managed well by humming and singing into speech until this year. One botox injection with bad side effects and no help to the voice.
I experienced a sudden shift in voice as a direct result of Connie’s insightful instruction.
There are choices in life. We didn’t choose to get SD, but we can choose how we deal with it. Botox is one choice. Doing nothing to treat it is another. But there is a third choice, less well known, but one that offers a bright beacon of hope for those of us who are tired of scopes and injections that are simply not working for us.
I will be forever grateful that I found Connie, with her broad toolbox of techniques that can help SD sufferers to improve their speech dramatically and remove the enormous effort we’ve been expending just to speak.
What would I say to others who suffer from SD? Give yourself the gift of hope, the chance to learn a new way to speak freely again with no drugs and no stress. You may find yourself like I did: sitting in Connie’s office with tears of joy streaming down your face as you say in a strong-again voice, “It’s working! My voice is working again!”
Corrine: AD/SD diagnosis in March 2010, MS diagnosed in April 2001. Botox injections once yearly for 3 years until the 3rd was a “disaster” with difficulty swallowing and aphonia.
By Day 2 of the clinic, I found where my voice should be instead of pushing down and scraping through my old strangled voice. I improved 99%, with slips only because of bad habits. I became conscious of posture and opening up for deep breathing and letting the voice flow up and out on the breath. The instructors were amazingly gifted and talented; exceeding my expectations.
Having had SD for 3 years and a Botox shot “gone bad”, requiring short-term disability from my job due to choking on food and aspirating in my sleep, I began searching for a better approach to this serious problem. I found Connie’s Free to Speak website, ordered her book and called her, whispering “help me!” She gave me tips and told me we would have to wait for the Botox paralysis to wear off. The February 2013 clinic timing would be perfect timing, which turned out to be God’s timing for me to start my recovery of being free to speak.
I anxiously awaited with great faith that this was the hope and resolution I had been waiting for. The clinic exceeded my expectations in so many ways.
Connie, having walked in “SD shoes” gives her personal experience. Her background in Speech Therapy is another blessing and addition to the “pot of chicken soup” I experienced and witnessed in myself and others in my group.
The clinic is a wonderfully loving, compassionate atmosphere where you witness different types of SD. Everyone encourages one another and you hear progress throughout the week.
Dennis’ examples of proper breathing and posture, Tai Chi and positive life-changing motivations help make changes beneficial to the whole mind-body experience.
Christine “rocks” wonderful blessings to be gifted to relax us with body massages, chanting and yoga techniques that I will continue to use.
All the wonderful people in the clinic were the right people at the right time. It was an amazing experience for my voice, mind, body and soul.
Gary: AD/SD diagnosed by the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, 2011. Three botox injections with various results, the 3rd having more side effects such as choking.
Background: I first detected a voice change in February of 2011. I went to a regional ENT in Bemidji, Minnesota who had been recommended by my GP. He scoped my throat and diagnosed a dysphonia. He asked me some questions about my professional and personal life. The Doctor then diagnosed me with a condition that was likely related to a fear of public speaking. I doubted that was true. I accepted his diagnosis of it being short term and perhaps psychosomatic and was optimistic that it would likely resolve over time. When I asked about further treatment he suggested I seek the services of a speech coach. When I asked him if there was one he knew of or that he could recommend he said no. I had no luck in finding a speech coach here in Northern Minnesota. In June I was back to see him and suggested that the condition had worsened. He asked why I was back, I told him it was because the condition had worsened and I did not feel it was psychosomatic; I felt that it was a physical condition. He scoped my throat once again and said “I cannot help you further”. He still stated he did not feel that it was SD. After this session I did some research on the Internet found out a bit about SD and decided to get a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. At the Mayo Clinic the speech pathologist that I met with again scoped my throat and diagnosed me with AD SD. I was pleased to finally receive a more specific diagnosis. She provided a good consultation about the condition and gave me some personal exercises/ideas for improvement such as: trebling lips, posture during speech, breathing more effectively and possibly a few sips of alcohol before an important speaking engagement. She asked if it was worse at times and I said yes in the evening or when I was tired. She also indicated that the condition would likely worsen over a period of 18-24 months. She went on to recommend botox injections for temporary relief from the condition. Subsequently over the next ten months I had three treatments in about twelve week increments. The results were varied with the third injections having complications due to how it was administered.
As a result of the lack of effective results my wife did further exploration and learned of the “Free to Speak” clinics being held in Florida. Together we discussed the future and elected to consider a trip to the clinic in February. After a phone conversation with Connie I was committed to this approach and cancelled my next botox treatment that had been scheduled for December of last year.
We came to Florida with hope and anticipation – after reading both of the Free to Speak books and using some of the tools described I felt that there could be – would be much learned from the clinic that would lead to improved speaking.
The Experience in your Home Clinic:
Connie, from the greeting at the door you, your team and your home were each welcoming and encouraging. The other participants with SD (worth noting; other than our phone call I had never communicated with anyone else with SD) were wonderful and supportive. I have to say that for me it was both reassuring and a bit scary to meet and talk with other people with SD. This was particularly true when I learned that some of the people had been dealing with this condition for decades. Even after two years there was a great deal of personal uncertainty about the condition and although some initial steps toward acceptance, a taste of denial in terms of what this condition might mean in my life. (As a life coach, consultant and public speaker I had recently made the decision to no longer do public speaking and my consulting was now limited to very small groups. Coaching over the phone was a real challenge and I was grateful that my coaching clients were understanding and sympathetic.)
There was an excellent mix of group time and personal consult; with of course some time for practice and reflection. This holistic approach for me required surrender and you have created in your home clinic a sense of peace, safety, trust and love. The other clients quickly became friends and a community of support. The assessment delivered by Robbie was key to provide a mental health perspective to the process. Christine was wonderful in her gentle spirit, firm hands as a massage therapist, gracious in her food preparation and uplifting with her yoga instruction. Dennis provided an important compliment in his expertise on breathing and how we can improve our speech through body awareness.
Connie your listening skills are a key to this work. You have the ability obviously to observe, provide powerful questions, evaluate and then suggest. You have the skill to take what you are learning from your training and practical application to continue to become a wealth of knowledge based on your students who you have learned so much from while you deliver this important life work. I learned from this time together the amazing spectrum that exists with SD – (AD. AB, jumping larynx). Each of the personal expressions of SD was so very unique.
For me the first ahhhhhh in your office allowed me to recognize what it meant to control my breathing and pitch. Your consult at that first one-on-one meeting gave me immediate results. I learned what a confidential voice was and will use this foundation to begin to expand my pitch range and my voice amplitude. The clinic taught me to be kind to my physical, emotional and spiritual body. I practice this and talk about this all the time with my life-coaching clients. I know that the awareness I have for this way of life will open the opportunity for healing and sustainable health in my voice and my life.
Robbie told me that the re-conditioning would require two hours of homework for the next year. He was responding to a direct question from me. I believe that this is true and at the same time this will also bring holistically for me a better life not just in my speaking voice.
I am continuing to consider this condition to be a blessing that will lead me to greater awareness of who I am and how I want to live my life. I am not my voice and yet my voice is important to my life. Thank you Connie for this important life work that you have claimed.
So bottom line I would rate this clinic on a scale of (1-10) as a 9+. Are there things that could be improved, yes. Are all of the foundational pieces well in place; in my opinion, absolutely. You have established this work on amazing principals Connie. I would describe them this way; first as a life calling with pure intention, with love, with gratitude, with a view of the person as a whole person, with delivering hope for a better tomorrow, with acceptance for what is, with little judgment against the system and what it represents, with an appreciation and respect for the spiritual component. And most importantly one special person at a time! ~ Gary
Candace: AD/SD, essential tremor, reflux. The SD was diagnosed in 1993 by Dr. Dougherty in Miami and Botox was recommended.
Periodic injections in Miami and in NYC by Dr. Blitzer yielded inconsistent results. Last injection was September 2012 with minimal improvement. ***Note by Connie, Candace was never given information about her specific condition in whole. Her mother had SD, hand and head tremors; Candace has essential tremor with hand tremors and she suspects mild symptoms in her adult children. She also has reflux and consistent hoarseness and a history of breast cancer. She was encouraged to get an updated ENT exam to rule out pathology and to consult with her neurologist regarding medication for ET. Learned to elevate my pitch and use more forward resonance and reverse my breathing patterns.
After 20 years of living with SD, I have, for the first time, been given tools to help ease the tremors either without or in conjunction with botox. Through attending Connie Pike’s clinic, I have seen first hand her expertise in treating varied types of SD.
I would encourage any sufferer to experience a consultation with Connie to explore the many options available in treating SD.
Gordon: AD/SD with gradual onset starting in 1993, diagnosed in 1998 in London.
Botox injections with Mr. Gerald Brooks resulted in excellent improvement and he continued every 16 weeks. While there was some variation, and voice was judged to be 80% of “normal” with good projection without tremor, but inability to sing or recite in church. Average improvement with injections lasted 8 weeks. Speaking from personal experience of attendance at this unique clinic, I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone with SD (laryngeal dystonia) and especially to those with reservations, objections or adverse reactions to the usually recommended botox injections.
The approach is holistic: addressing body, mind and spirit through varying but interconnected activities. The personal attention devoted to each participant (bearing in mind that all have differing needs) by Connie Pike and her specialist team, is central to the success of the clinic. Significantly more time can be directed towards individual needs than is usually the case elsewhere. Additionally, close interactivity within the participant group is a source of great encouragement.
Last, but not least, the clinic is not held in an institutional environment, but in the tranquil surroundings of Connie’s beautiful waterside home in Florida. The value of this setting should not be underestimated.
Chuck: AD/SD onset in 2008, diagnosed in 2009; also diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2009, requiring CPAP, confirmed acid reflux.
Botox injections 11/09, 3/11. Both resulted in a month of aphonia and short improvement following. Klonopin, Dr. Cooper 5 days in 11/11, never fully recovering. Traditional voice therapy with little improvement. Experienced 50-60% improved voice at the clinic. I was able to identify and reinforce my proper pitch and learn techniques to keep my larynx from moving up, although I have a ways to go on that movement. I learned the proper technique for diaphragmatic breathing.
Without a doubt, this clinic exceeded my expectations. I had a pre-conceived set of ideas on what I needed to work on prior to the clinic, as a result of seeing Morton Cooper in 2011. Connie’s clinic touched multiple additional aspects of the body/life that are important influential factors in SD.
I would say, foremost, Connie’s experience in her own recovery and then relapse make the experience invaluable and effective. The compassion she has for her patients is genuine and helps tremendously in finding and maintaining hope. How often can a practitioner really empathize with a patient dealing with a rare disorder?
The holistic approach is key to the success of recovery from this condition. The approach doesn’t end with breathing, stress reduction, nutrition, etc. The fellowship and spiritual aspect of the 5 days were equally important.
I would like to thank Connie, Dennis, Christine, and Robbie for the program they have developed. This was a Life Clinic as well as a Voice Clinic!
November/December 2012 Clinic, Apollo Beach, FL
It was a very relaxed, friendly atmosphere and I felt very at home and free from stress. Everything was well organized and professional. It felt like a spa but I learned a lot about neuromuscular massage and healthy posture, breathing properly and voice strengthening exercises. The massages were helpful, sessions with Dennis good for stretching muscles and the sessions with Connie were good for speaking, voice, breathing, and mental aspects of SD.
HM: AB/SD with onset in July 2011, diagnosis in June 2012. Botox was recommended but he declined. Klonopin prescribed and intermittently used. Reported 40% improvement in his voice, with confidence that he had the necessary tools to continue improvement. Became aware of breathing problems and how to change them.
The Free to Speak Clinic has given me hope and has provided me with the tools to go back home and continue my voice rehabilitation. I discovered the specific problems with my voice and other self-reflections that contribute to my problems. I found out my level of anxiety was one cause of my problem and that I need to focus on self-care and relaxation techniques along with good voice practice to continue to improve. It is a journey to recovery and I am happy I came to the clinic.
Mary: AB/SD, symptoms began in 1998. Speech therapy and counseling as initial diagnosis was MTD. After a period of recovery, her voice deteriorated in 1999, continuing a decline through 2008. Another ENT diagnosed MTD and prescribed further speech therapy and massage. In 2009 she was diagnosed with SD and botox was recommended. She had one injection and then resumed speech therapy along with acupuncture. Restored normal voice function until October 2010. Had tried Alexander technique, meditation, Pilates, and Roger Love singing exercises. Felt the voice get better and revert during the clinic. Developed a more open chest, better posture and the neck loosened.
A benefit of the group setting is meeting others with the same condition. This was the first time I had met anyone with SD.
The clinic provided a good overview of SD and a wide variety of tools to try in dealing with it. Having someone like Connie, a speech therapist who has actually had SD is very helpful. She had been there herself and is a great role model. At the end of the clinic, I realized that with SD, there will be ups and downs and to accept that “it is what it is”. Acceptance of myself as someone with SD is a good place to start.
Walt: AD/SD with symptoms starting in the early 1990’s and diagnosed in 1996, Botox injections yearly or semi-annually at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Learned not to force the voice and became more conscious of breathing and all things that affect it.
Fantastic… The clinic brought together the main aspects of SD; namely, posture, breathing, emotions. Each element was explored and practical tools were given to help us improve and manage SD. Connie Pike is in the unique position to offer this clinic. She has personal experience with SD and is a speech therapist. She has compassion. The team she brought together is able and caring.
Sharing common experiences with each other as clinic participants was invaluable. Knowing one is not alone gives hope. People of many different callings in life have been stricken with SD.
Barbara: Previous tracheal stenosis; 6 dilatations and then re-section and reconstruction of trachea December 2010. Was told there was nothing she could do to improve her voice, which was very upsetting to her. Surgery to stretch out/ lengthen the vocal folds was offered but with uncertain outcome. She tried massage, herbal teas, and some voice exercises intermittently.
Gained confidence in speaking in a higher pitch, using confidential voice, and breathing in an easier manner without pushing.
If you truly want to recover, you must attend Connie’s clinic. You would be foolish not to. You will be given knowledge and skills by practitioners that are not only genius mentality clinicians, but caring and blessed in their thoughts and practice.
There were 6 of us at the clinic – strangers from different parts of the world – that became united and helpful towards each other – understanding and feeling welcome by people with the same and similar conditions.
Connie, Dennis, and Christine are gifts from God!
I learned to think outside the box!
Tanya: AD/SD with gradual onset starting in 2007, diagnosed in 2010. Voice therapy, homeopathy, yoga, reflux medication, counseling, botox injections in September 2011, December 2011, March, June, and September 2012. Results were inconsistent, lasting 6-8 weeks. Learned how to coordinate breathing and speaking and focus the voice higher to release the blocked, strangled sound. Improved posture and learned to monitor her breathing.
I consider this trip to the clinic the longest journey of my life, not only because I traveled thousands of miles from Bulgaria, but mainly because it dramatically changed my perception of my condition and myself. The most important thing is that I realized what my weaknesses are and what I need to do in order to improve.
I value every minute at the clinic and highly appreciate the supportive and friendly atmosphere. Everyone has been helpful and cooperative. Robbie taught me about visualization, relaxation and ways to become more logical, self-compassionate and less emotional.
I was impressed with Dennis’s knowledge in so many areas and by his optimism and great sense of humor. I highly value his explanations on breathing and neurolinguistic programming, his advice to look for solutions outside the box, use knowledge yet try to overcome limitations and give priority to imagination and will power.
I had invaluable sessions with Connie. She helped me realize that first and foremost, I need unconditional acceptance of myself the way I am. Her personal story was touching and inspiring. She has taught me to ground my voice through humming, speak laughing, yawning, etc.
Christine gave us useful information on the chakras and mantras, basic yoga for relaxation. I felt so relieved after her massage treatment!
As I see it, the steps to solve a problem are to define the exact problem, and find the right tools. Now I have to design my strategy and work on it.
When I came here, I didn’t know anyone, and now I feel I have known the participants for a long time. We shared fears and hopes, helped one another, and sang together. We are united by our common goal – to find our voices and feel free to speak. I feel grateful knowing I can turn to them for advice and share my experience. Words fail me to describe how thankful I am to Connie, Dennis, Christine, Robbie and Bob!
October 2012 Clinic, Apollo Beach, Florida
S.D.: Gradual onset of symptoms for 3 years, Diagnosed with SD November 2011, prior diagnosis included acid reflux. Reflux meds did not help, short term improvement with hypnosis.
What I appreciated most about the clinic was that is was a safe, supportive, loving space to come and address an area of my life that has been a source of tremendous vulnerability. Connie, Dennis and Christine bring so much warmth, love, genuine compassion and enthusiasm to their work with clinic participants. For me, sharing this healing journey with them and the other truly special individuals who attended the clinic is an experience I will never forget.
The fact that Connie has struggled with SD and has grown through the process – vocally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally – makes her an excellent and compassionate teacher. She has been there, so she knows in a very real way what we are going through.
The amount of information over five days can seem overwhelming. It is a lot to take in over a short period of time. But the benefit to being given so many options and approaches for tackling this work is that there are bound to be at least several approaches/tools that really speak to and resonate with each attendee. I appreciated the practice time between sessions because it allowed me to figure out where I had questions and where I needed support, so that I would be more equipped to do the work on my own once I returned home. Being home now for 2 days as I write this, I am pleasantly surprised by the amount of information I actually did retain. I know that if there is something I did not recall, I have Connie’s amazing binder as a resource as well as follow-up sessions with Dennis and Connie waiting in the wings. This provides a wonderful feeling of having a safety net to catch me if I fall.
While I expected to come to the clinic to learn lots of voice exercises (which I did), what I did not expect was to reflect as much as I did one the other aspects of my life which have likely contributed to the SD. Understanding how breathing is connected to speaking and how posture is connected to breathing and nutrition, fitness, relaxation and spiritual practice all connect back to our voices was truly transformative for me.
I will now be making changes in my life that will not only help me improve my voice but will also help me lead a happier, healthier life overall. It is clear to me that my recovery will take time and commitment, but I feel I have all the tools and support that I need to move forward with hope and success. I highly recommend this clinic.
Joanne: AD/SD diagnosed in 1995: botox injections in 1995, then resumed in 2010 but with limited improvement, voice therapy, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, hypnosis
I found the clinic to be a positive reinforcement that SD is NOT hopeless. The clinic helped me change my breathing patterns, posture, and most importantly the pitch and volume of my voice that allows me to speak freely without the tension to force my voice to be heard.
I loved every aspect of the clinic and look forward to continued success. All of the instructors were loving and caring, setting programs for us individually. Connie is truly an angel sent to help those of us with SD and set us on a new path to a wonderful groove. I will forever be indebted to her and the compassion she has shared with me. The interaction with the others in the clinic helped me to empower myself for success. My journey with all of them was a wonderful experience and a great feeling to meet and work with wonderful people from around the world.
My prayer for those with voice disorders is to seek out Connie and her team. It is an experience you will never forget.
Kim: AD/SD, symptoms began in 2001-2002, diagnosed with allergies, and then SD by the NIH in 2003, speech therapy, botox injections every 3-6 months for 8 years, holistic chiropractor and supplements, psychotherapy.
The clinic was a great experience! I met a lot of nice people and I felt comfortable. There was no judgment or criticism about my voice. I love the fact that Connie had gone through SD. Dennis had a great way of showing me the correct way to breathe. I was lacking proper breath support. Christine gave me my first massage ever and it was wonderful. I loved her Yoga class. Everyone was positive and encouraging.
I learned that I am really closer to recovering my voice than I realized. Although I had some apprehension coming to the clinic, I am so glad I made the decision to do it. I laughed and cried. I learned a lot about myself and how to manage my recovery. I am happy with the tools that were provided to me at the clinic.
I would love to share my experience with others. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I encourage others with SD to come to the Free to Speak Clinic. Thank you Connie, Dennis, and Christine!
Sarah: AD/SD symptoms began in May 2011, first diagnosed with Muscle tension dysphonia and acid reflux, speech therapy, voice rest, laryngeal physio, medications, Alexander technique, acupuncture, botox recommended but declined.
Meeting other SD sufferers in the nurturing and supportive environment of Connie’s exceptional home was a great experience. It is a unique clinic and the combination of the talents and dedication of Connie, Dennis, Robbie and Christine provides participants with access to a huge knowledge base of tools, techniques and strategies to overcome SD. There were moments during the five days when I felt empowered and fully in control of my voice for the first time in a long while. That, along with Christine’s fantastic lunches and amazing massage made the trip here from the UK very worthwhile.
Jan: Gradual onset of symptoms in 1995. Diagnosed with SD in August 2011. Botox recommended and declined.
Connie Pike and her loving husband, Bob, have created a sanctuary in Apollo Beach – a sanctuary for healing and exploring full and free vocal expression. From the moment I set foot in their beautiful home, I could sense that something special evolved here. It is tangible and unique and shared from a place of compassion, enthusiasm and love.
Connie has used her own journey of reclaiming her full voice to inform the evolution of a truly holistic approach to vocal recovery. You may come to the clinic thinking you will gain some techniques (and you will), but you will also find a true healing atmosphere in which all aspects of your expression are heard, considered and supported. Although Connie’s specialty has been “speech therapy”, she has a much wider vision of what it takes to open one’s full and resonant voice. She has brought together a team of angels (herself included) who will honor your body, mind, emotions and spirit as they offer tools and techniques for you to play with, and/or work with in your healing journey. At all times I felt encouraged to find my truth, to find which tools best worked for me. I felt supported to experiment and play with the exercises and ideas as I was learning.
Connie, in her gentle, playful, loving and accepting way, provides the core fabric for this experience. She is balanced and sincere and definitely knows her stuff around vocal technique and strategies for opening to more free and fluid expression. Through group and individual sessions, Connie shares her gifts. You come away from the experience loaded with a wealth of exercises, strategies, tools and techniques (and you’ll love this….a big ball, kazoo, computerized voice training program, fabulous books, a binder jammed with ideas, and a heart filled with “can do” optimism!) She also shares freely of her personal journey and the coming and goings of her sky blue voice. Here is a person of deep heart and clear vision, ready and eager to share what she has found, what she understands, and what she is learning to benefit those who are seeking to reclaim their own precious voices. Of special note is her courage... to brave new ground, to dream new dreams, and to advocate for something of true worth in a field that has been stymied by definitions of SD as incurable. (Don’t believe it. She doesn’t, and you won’t either, when you see and hear the resonant potentials in each member of the group!)
The clinic also offers the blessings of three other fabulous beings: Robbie provides a brief, valuable individual review of current psychological aspects and offers suggestions for setting sail in the direction of new freedoms. Christine provides a lovely source of light and nurturing. Not only does she prepare and serve the LUNCHES (yum), she provides her skilled and loving touch for a deeply intuitive and releasing massage. Dennis is a constant presence. Through individual and group sessions, he brings his knowledge and skills in the fields of body-mind interaction, neurolinguistic programming, neuromuscular therapy, and holistic health. Explorations of breath and posture were clear and freeing, opening our “instrument” for full vocal expression. Of great value to me was his ability to gently and precisely reach into the musculature of the throat and neck and provide some skilled contact for releasing habitually over-worked muscles.
A grand thank you to Connie (and husband Bob who kind-heartedly shared his home) and to her team for creating and believing in the healing power of skilled attention and love! Now it is up to us to take the marvelous gifts and use them for attaining the freedoms we seek.
Paul: Voice changes started in the fall of 2010, with roughness and hoarseness, progressing to severe symptoms in February 2011. Diagnosed with AD/SD by four specialists. Reflux medication, speech therapy, three week consultation with Morton Cooper, psychological consultation.
The clinic was an extremely positive experience for numerous reasons. In the second half of the clinic, I was experiencing clear voicing (no breaks) on a regular basis. However, achieving some progress towards clear voicing is just the beginning because the clinic teaches how the journey to move beyond SD is very integrated. It involves vocal mechanics, proper breathing, neuromuscular work, relaxation and emotions, all playing a massive role in the road to recovery.
A lot of information is provided, but Connie and Dennis tailor the information into a road map that I will use after the clinic. The teamwork between Connie, Dennis and Christine is very impressive, helping to insure that I receive maximum benefit of the clinic. Participating in the clinic with others afflicted with SD was the most beneficial aspect of the experience. The group shared stories, SD backgrounds, frustrations, and ultimately, we celebrated everyone’s breakthroughs as a team. Thank you for reaffirming, in a most impactful way, that SD can be managed and overcome in a holistic manner.
July 2012 Clinic, Apollo Beach, Florida
Christie: AD/SD diagnosed in February 2012: speech therapy, acupuncture. Reported 60-70% improvement in her voice at the clinic, learning not to strain and push the voice out.
This clinic was an amazing experience all around. Before attending the clinic, I was told that Botox was the only route and that I would not get better with therapy. I began to lose hope that it could improve. But Connie’s clinic provided me with a renewed sense of hope and most importantly, a significantly improved voice. With the techniques and training that Connie provided and the breathing techniques and tension release techniques from Dennis, I can say with confidence that I am on a path to recovering my voice completely.
The group dynamic of this clinic was so valuable. The encouragement, support, and inspiration from the co-participants in the clinic was priceless, not to mention the bonds made with others going through the same emotional struggles of the disorder.
I fell that I now have the tools and jump start to get my voice fully back. This clinic was the first time that I had heard my normal voice in awhile, and the first time I felt freer to speak. I couldn’t recommend this clinic more highly to someone struggling to get their voice baack. Botox is not the only option and this clinic, and Connie herself, proves it.
Mike: Mixed SD with tremor and atrophy diagnosed in 2007: Prilosec, speech therapy for 1.5 years. Reported 60-70% improvement in his voice, with more resonance, consistency, fewer breaks, and less tremor. Breathing became more automatic, less in the chest, and inhibition of gasping.
If you have unanswered questions about SD, or have been told that it only gets worse, is incurable, that botox is the only treatment, or that speech therapy won’t help you – you owe it to yourself to explore the alternatives. At the very least, you owe it to yourself to have 5 days of exploring your condition in a relaxing, positive, non-judgmental place with other people with similar issues.
With Connie, you’ll explore methods of better vocal production, how to increase resonance, reduce breathiness and breaks and use your appropriate pitch. You will also explore the mental, psychological and emotional aspects of dealing with SD day to day. Because Connie has struggled with and overcome SD herself, her insights, empathy, and experience can’t be found elsewhere. Because she is a world-class SLP, she provides individualized, specific, tools and exercises tailored to each person.
With Dennis, you’ll explore better, easier ways to breathe, which is the foundation of vocal production. He also addresses any biomechanical problems and patterns of negative or unhelpful thoughts and feelings. He also provides concrete, specific exercises that will continue to help after the clinic.
Christine provides nutritious meals and snacks, yoga instruction, as well as Swedish deep-tissue massage. What makes Christine special is her understanding of the unique needs of SD patients and the need to release tension, especially in the head, neck and shoulders.
All three work closely together to address the specific needs of each client. Possibly, the most valuable aspect of the clinic is to meet other SD sufferers, share experiences and history, and to share successes and serve as inspiration and encouragement for one another.
JT: AB/SD, symptoms began in January 2011 following a cold and laryngitis, initial diagnosis of unilateral paresis and gel injection to medialize the vocal fold, 2 botox injections, Artane. Reported 60% improvement in voice and a good understanding of what was needed to continue improvement.
Anyone who has been diagnosed with SD needs to be informed that there is a holistic program that provides an individual with tools to recover from it as well as how to deal with SD during the recovery process. Now that I have attended the clinic, I feel hopeful and have a treatment plan to follow that puts me on the road to recovery.
I understand about the complexity of SD’s affect on the body, mind, and spirit. The kind and caring approach to treatment is evident every day of the clinic. I now am empowered to move forward. Each one of the teachers help you to develop the skills to manage, understand, and begin recovery from SD.
Connie, Dennis, Christine and Robbie are such a wonderful team. I am so thankful to them for all they do, which sets me off on a stable road to recovery. There is so much information that is provided, and tools that will guide you to know how to deal with SD as you recover. I would attend a clinic again, and recommend that anyone who wants to understand SD and how to recover your voice consider this wonderful option. From my perspective, it was worth the financial commitment to attend. The benefit the clinic offers is priceless!
Rey: AD/SD diagnosed in 1998, Botox injections every 3 months, Tagamet. Reported 80% improvement in voice production, learning to project a lower pitch and resonate into the face. Improved breathing mechanics.
Before I arrived, I had faith that I would learn the necessary skills, but did not expect to reach any immediate improvements. By the second day, I began to show remarkable improvement as Connie began to identify the weak areas of my voice and prescribe my specific pitch, relaxation, and breathing patterns that needed change. Dennis helped with the breathing component and corrected wrong mechanics. Connie, with the use of computer software applications and her expertise, helped me to maintain focus on the correct resonance and pitch that supported the best voice quality.
The financial investment and time for the clinic has proven to be valuable, and a launching pad for my voice improvement journey. Prayers be to God who has used Connie and her team to provide an alternative to Botox. May God continue to bless her as she blesses others with her gift.
John: AB/SD diagnosed in 2009 after a year of symptoms, was using whispering frequently to communicate, Botox was recommended but he declined. No prior therapy or treatment. Reported 30% improvement in voice as he learned to stop whispering and was able to produce audible voice at times.
This was a most caring and knowledgeable staff. This was the first time that I agreed and believed in everything that was presented (about my SD).
You would not be disappointed in this clinic. Words cannot express how much better I feel about myself as a person and in my ability to find my voice. I have no doubts that with the tools I have been given, the encouragement of the team and other participants, that I will be, truly, Free to Speak.
June 2012 Clinic, Apollo Beach, Florida
Left to Right: DC, Connie, Harit, Christine, Diann, EP, Tanya, Dennis, Beth
Harit: AD/SD diagnosed in November 2011; reflux medication, speech therapy. Reported 50% improvement in his voice at the clinic, with drastic reduction in “strangulation/choking” while speaking, improved breathing and better posture.
Just see Connie! If she could find the new groove then so can anyone who has determination. At the clinic you meet others who sound just like you, slightly better or worse.
The teamwork between Connie, Dennis and Christine is amazing. One of the key components is breathing. We take t his for granted, but Dennis shows me that I am at 50%, and opens us to the remaining 50%.
Connie, in her sessions, gives you 100% encouragement and evaluates you. She tries all the different tools to get you to find your pitch and a new groove for your voice. Once you understand that you need a new groove (and it is there), then it is practice you need. It is not an overnight transformation.
For myself, Connie realized that when I spoke in a confidential voice, I was indeed in a new groove. By the time I left, I could speak 50% of the time in the confidential voice. Thank you, Connie!
What can I say about Christine? She is a wonderful person who made my stay memorable. Her massages are out of this world – and I have had massages before!
My fellow participants were just great. They supported and assisted me throughout. They would correct me if I went too high in pitch. Thanks everyone.
Diann: AD/SD diagnosed February 2010, cervical dystonia diagnosed January 2012: Botox injections every 6-8 weeks, massage, chiropractic, voice therapy.
After researching this “voice thing” labeled as Spasmodic Dysphonia for two years, serendipitously I contacted a former participant who attended Connie’s clinic. He highly recommended that I pursue the journey from Texas to Florida to work with Connie in a group milieu setting that included others working to find their voice and free their voice.
If anyone has seen the movie, Eat, Love, and Pray – I would like to spin off of that title and express the big picture of what I learned from my journey of investigating and capturing moments during the five day clinic of finding my real voice, or the voice I loved before it was relegated into hiding. I would say that Connie’s clinic reminded/supported me of this: Pray continuously, Breathe deeply and with passion, Clean and cleanse the body, and Practice with love/”letting go” to find the beautiful voice.
From this initial sojourn, I believe in due time~ and fun work, my voice will emerge from hiding (or protective mode) to find its perfect purpose to help others and glorify God. True healing must address the whole person (heart/mind/soul/body). This is a truism and precept that Connie, Dennis, Christine and Robbie live (model) and support in the healing of every person who attends the clinic. They all have huge servant’s hearts.
It was uplifting to see how my cohorts progressed so quickly and seemed to be renewed and transformed by the five precious days we spent together. I have been truly blessed in many ways to be a part of the June 2012 clinic.
EP: AD/SD, symptoms began in 2004, initial diagnosis of reflux, then stress-related dysphonia, and SD diagnosis in 2005. Speech therapy, and 7 years of regular botox injections, requiring increased dosages and frequency. Acupuncture helped temporarily in 2008.
I would definitely recommend the clinic for many reasons. The breadth of techniques and tools used help me consciously and unconsciously open up my voice. I learned specific tools that work with my specific voice issues and get to the point where, within a few seconds of speaking, I could alter my airflow and muscle tension in order to change the quality of my voice production.
I learned how specific anatomical areas (neck, throat, shoulders, rib cage) and my particular breathing style while speaking were contributing to my voice difficulty. I was taught to address these with relaxation, stretching, visualizations, and feedback (hearing, feeling). When I used these strategies, I got positive feedback as my normal voice would appear, at first brief moments and then with increasing frequency and duration.
A huge advantage was the support we all gave each other when we chatted together. Encouraging each other with specifically focused directive statements was a very helpful component of the clinic.
We developed individual specific strategy plans to implement when we get back home, and know that we have our “group” to keep in touch with for continued support.
By my final session with Connie, I was able to record many consecutive sentences of conversation in a nearly normal voice! I know as I continue to use and change my daily tools as I need, I will develop my fully resonant, confident voice.
Tanya: AD/SD diagnosed in 1997 at the age of 19, but later she was told that she probably did not have SD, but rather reflux and muscle tension dysphonia. Symptoms had been episodic over the past 14 ½ years, with periods of severely impaired voice and periods of nearly normal voice. Speech therapy with various therapists, bio-feedback, acupuncture, chiropractic, reflux meds:
It has been an incredible journey, from the initial diagnosis of SD in 1997 until now. I literally tried everything to try to resolve this voice problem and make it go away, wanting to feel normal again. If it has taught me anything, it’s perseverance! This may not have been the easiest road, but it has made me the unique, individual that I am today. I learned to accept, build inner strength, feel at peace, and not allow this to hold my voice hostage. This is what the clinic taught me.
It has been a tremendous blessing to come here and have my wish come true in meeting others with this disorder, resulting in a bodn that will last a life-time. This was more helpful than any other professional advice and instruction I’ve received in the past. I’m so thankful to Dennis, Christine, Robbie and the group. Connie, you’re the best!
This clinic provided me with the tools and structure to find my healthy voice. It acknowledged me as a whole person in an atmosphere without judgment. I felt surrounded by love and support and I believe I encouraged my peers as well. Connie has created a clinic that is both practical and nurturing. Along with Dennis and Christine, we learned from Connie how our voice is a part of our being, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is necessary to address all areas to manage our SD and our state of being.
I leave the clinic not only feeling confident that I will be successful in managing my SD, but as a person who has grown in wisdom. Thank you Connie, you have made a positive difference in the lives of many. With heartfelt gratitude to all the facilitators and participants for sharing their knowledge and the clinic experience with me.
March 2012 Clinic, Apollo Beach, Florida
Left to right, Michael, Dennis, Diane, Connie, Kay, KS, Kimberly, Alice
Michael: AD/SD with MTD with symptoms first noted in late 2009 and diagnosis in January 2010; one week with Morton Cooper, voice therapy, botox injections with varying levels of success, last injection ineffective. This is (as promoted) a very holistic clinic. It definitely covers a lot of areas pertaining to SD; breathing, mind/body, voice exercises, posture and more. I quickly learned I have to get my pitch lower and more relaxed. Listening to the before and after of my voice was quite inspiring. It really helps to listen to my voice and compare. Just learning to massage and lower my larynx is a great tool. I learned how to anchor my voice (and self) when it might go askew. This is such a positive workshop/clinic. Connie and Dennis have done great jobs. This is most definitely, for me, a more viable and workable solution than botox. I will not go back to botox. I will keep low and open. This is the ticket!
Diane: AB/SD following upper respiratory infections 3 ½ years ago, 2 botox injections with severe complications, voice therapy, previous private instruction with Connie and Dennis, followed by thyroidectomy. The surgeon noted the larnyngel nerve tetherd around a large nodule, but there was no vocal fold paralysis. I made great strides at the clinic, with use of lower pitch and stronger tonal resonance. I learned to speak without whisper. I would encourage anyone thinking of attending Connie’s clinic to absolutely do so. The group dynamic is very powerful to help promoting healing and recovery. Connie and Dennis are both skilled and empathetic, which helps you to feel encouraged and hopeful that what you have learned during the clinic, you can easily apply to your home environment. While improving after private instruction, I felt the clinic was necessary for a full recovery, so I decided to attend. I am very happy that I did because the group support is so beneficial. You can share stories, tips for success, and bond in a way that is healing to your mind/body. Thank you Connie and Dennis, Christine and Robbie. I am sure that I am now on a complete and lasting road to recovery from SD.
KS: Mixed SD 15 years, beginning at age 25, intermittent voice therapy, 12 botox injections with little relief, DVR with Morton Cooper 8 years ago, alternative therapies.
I had a shift to easier voicing about a month before the clinic after reading Connie’s books. I found the breathing instruction in the book to be very helpful. My personal experience with SD has been a long road. Everyday has been a struggle for the past 15 years. I feel like only someone with this experience could understand the magnitude of the struggle.
I have tried many approaches to get relief from the vocal spasms. I traveled to California to see Morton Cooper with little results. I have had many botox injections, hoping that this would make a difference. The results were not consistent and resulted in little improvement for me. I have seen many traditional voice therapists who always recommended botox along with the exercises they taught. I tried hypnosis and acupuncture, but the spasms were always present.
Having just completed the 5 day intensive voice rehabilitation clinic with Connie and Dennis, I can honestly say that this is the first time in years that I have an overwhelming feeling of hope that I can be an active participant in life. I feel free to make myself heard. I have the tools to be successful in restoring my voice. The clinic atmosphere has participated a shift within me. I now truly believe that I don’t have to live life giving one word answers. I am excited about my future and look forward to everything that it holds.
Kay: AD/SD since early 2008, following a head tremor in 1998 and hemi-facial spasms in 2000. Botox injections twice yearly for 3 years with variable results, voice therapy. I learned to produce voice with less effort and breaks and to have less fear about what I can produce and better acceptance of how I sound. The most important reason for me to consider the clinic was the realization that Connie had personally overcome her SD and offered tools that could help others with SD. Her honesty regarding the fact that it could be an extended period of work (different for some) and there would be plateaus and highs and lows to the quality of the voice was reassuring and helped me from realistic goals and expectations. I regained hope that I, too, could do the work and re-learn to be free to speak again.
Listening to the recordings of my voice on the 1st day compared to the last day was an inspirational way to leave the safe space of the clinic and go back to my world. Being with others with SD was a valuable experience. They had the same fears and hurts and loss of confidence. It didn’t matter what our voices sounded like, there was no judgment, no need to explain anything.
Everyone involved in the clinic added in positive ways, everyday, to the recovery process. I came to the clinic as a skeptic, and I leave with a change of heart, mind, spirit and a new sense of wholeness. I leave with much gratitude and love.
Kimberly: AD/SD since 1997, regular botox injections until 2003 when she had SLAD/R surgery with Dr. Berke, resulting in a paralyzed vocal fold (medial position) and continued SD in the opposite fold. Tried many alternative treatments such as Reike and acupuncture, and psychotherapy. I recovered the ability to hum, and learned to speak louder with less strain. The clinic was a life changing experience on every level. It gives hope to SD sufferers. The level of attention from experts like Connie and Dennis de-mystified by breath, posture and voice difficulties. The discussion about faith, questioning and letting go on the final day opened my heart to unlimited potential that we all have inside. The Duane Miller tape was truly awe-inspiring, hearing a miracle occur. It could happen for me! Robbie’s consultation was helpful. I loved the yoga class tailored for SD and wanted more of it. Christine is a gifted member of the team.
SD has had a deep impact on my life and the clinic gives me tools to work with. The clinic goes far beyond voice therapy as it seeks to rehabilitate physical, spiritual and mental aspects of SD.
All participants left with stronger voices, upright posture, and brighter faces. It was a joy to witness the transformation.
Alice: AD/SD with symptoms beginning in 2002 and diagnosis in October 2011. She sought a second opinion with Dr. Bastion, and he confirmed the diagnosis and offered botox that day. The shot reportedly resulted in extended whispered voice, squeaky high pitched voice and a return of symptoms. Her son encouraged her to find an alternative.
My voice improved 70% at the clinic. It is less hoarse, higher in pitch and more resonant. My breathing is deeper and fuller.
To anyone with SD considering this clinic, I would say, “Have faith in yourself and a positive mental attitude.” The peer interaction was invaluable.
November 2011 Clinic, Apollo Beach, Florida
Left to Right: Jim, Dorothy, Dennis, Jean, Robert, Carrie, Connie
November Clinic 2011, Apollo Beach, Florida
Jim: Slow deterioration of voice beginning over 10 years ago/diagnosed in 2009 with dystonia, chronic constriction of the vocal folds, Spasmodic Dysphonia and/or Muscle Tension Dysphonia. Speech therapy, chiropractic, massage and other alternative therapies as well as botox , none of which helped the voice.
I found the right groove for my voice at the clinic and I learned to breathe more effectively and efficiently, with deeper breathing and better posture.
I highly recommend this clinic to anyone with SD. Connie, Dennis, Christine and Robbie are highly skilled practitioners who have the knowledge necessary for success in gaining voice recovery. I felt very confident during the clinic that my success with the program was their priority. I noticed improvement right away and know that if I follow the plan that was outlined for me, I will be on my way to complete recovery.
My voice got off track years ago, and gradually got worse. This clinic gave me the tools to re-train my system to produce normal voice. Another aspect of the clinic that is great is meeting other people with voice dysfunction who are committed to getting better. The peer support is an important part of recovery and a plan is in place to continue contact with each other.
I went into the clinic not expecting a miracle or quick fix, and this is important, because I gave it a chance and now have the tools that will help me achieve my goal of complete recovery. I can honestly say that it is possible to recover from this dysfunction as I have seen others and myself. If you want to learn how to gain control of your voice, this clinic is the place to go.
Dorothy: Quivering voice in the late 1990’s, diagnosed with Adductor Spasmodic Dysphonia and vocal tremor in 2008, botox injections regularly for several years with inconsistent results.
My voice significantly improved at the clinic; about 75%. I became much more aware of my breathing. Words seem inadequate to express my gratitude for what Connie has done for people with SD. She has discovered an effective mix of actions anyone can take to improve their voice and life. If anyone has SD or vocal tremor, they should sign up for this clinic. You don’t have to suffer and this is a better option than botox.
Jean: Diagnosed with Adductor SD last year; having had it for 8 months 30 years ago. Initially she was not told she had SD, and was treated with voice therapy for 8 months and completely recovered until 2010. She was then told that botox was the recommended treatment after 3 months of unsuccessful voice therapy. The three injections she received “masked the problem” but she did not like the breathy period and returned strain as it wore off.
The clinic helped me become more aware of where I should focus my voice and that exercises and breathing correctly are a large part of the healing. I felt the instructors were caring, knowledgeable and prepared.
I am thankful for the clinic, when the medical world really doesn’t understand SD. Here one can find hope, friendship, techniques, programs and exercises to help them regain their voices. The days are worth the time, effort and expense. The knowledge you gain to manage SD is immeasurable and the encouragement tremendous.
I feel that not only did I gain information, but that after I leave the clinic, I will not be forgotten. I know that if I have questions or need help, it is just a phone call or email away.
Thank you Connie and Dennis!
Robert: Adductor SD diagnosed in 2004 after a bad throat infection, two botulinum toxin injections, then consulted with Connie in London on 3 occasions, Alexander technique, Bowen, and other alternative therapies.
My voice and breathing improved significantly at the clinic. Although I had already met with Connie in London and knew some of the techniques, having the whole “package” refreshed my memory and gave me a clear line of approach to my problem.
For anyone suffering from SD, I would completely recommend that they attend this clinic, as they will receive all the tools necessary to beat this problem. Additionally, meeting others with the same illness is very helpful.
This is a great team of experts who care!
Carrie: Sudden onset of SD in 2001, at age 24. She initially improved with voice therapy, but symptoms returned. She then had Botox injections at the Cleveland Clinic every 10-13 weeks for 5 years, but it became less effective over time. Seeking alternative treatment, she saw Mike White for breathing instruction and signed up for the clinic with the hope that she could stop Botox treatment.
My voice significantly improved at the clinic. There aren’t just one or two specific exercises that worked for me, but a combination of many things along with support from others who know and understand what I am going through. Learning how to breathe properly was very important to me because I was taking a big breath and holding on to it as I was speaking. I also learned how to relax, which makes it much easier to speak. My voice is not perfect, but it is doing well enough that I don’t feel the need for botox anymore. I think that most people don’t even know I have a voice problem now. If anyone would like to contact me for more information, my email is Belle5677@aol.com. Just put Spasmodic Dysphonia or Connie Pike in the subject line.
Overview by Connie Pike, M.A., CCC-SLP
August 18-21, 2005 - We held our first intensive voice rehabilitation clinic in Tampa, Florida. Connie organized the clinic format based on the model she used to restore her own voice over the past year (AD/SD) and outlined in her book Free to Speak: Overcoming Spasmodic Dysphonia. She was assisted by Michael White, Optimal Breathing Specialist. Robbie Goss, licensed mental health practitioner, consulted with each participant as well. We had five participants for the first clinic; one Adductor, one Mixed with secondary dysfluency, and three Abductor. Length of time from diagnosis ranged from 6 months to 12 years.
Intensive sums up the experience well. The first day consisted of individual assessments, including breathing analysis with Mike, Connie performing computerized acoustic analysis to determine habitual pitch levels, voice evaluation and beginning video tapes. Robbie had provided a psycho-social evaluation tool prior to the clinic, which he discussed with each participant. The second day, the hard work began. Connie and Mike both met with each participant for an hour individually to begin unraveling the mechanical issues at hand. Voices began to free up and strategies were explored and breathing blocks removed. Each person was uniquely different in their manifestations of the SD and their reactions to it.
In addition to individual work, we also had some group training around optimal breathing release techniques, laryngeal massage, and Roger Love's singing exercises. Each person was trained on a computer program which helped them visually identify their pitch level, and provided immediate auditory feedback of speaking samples. During times that they were not in a treatment session, stations were set up so that one could choose an activity of choice such as working at the computer, doing a taped relaxation exercise, reading selected stories, articles, and books, or narrating what they were learning on an audio tape. We also found that the interaction between various members of the clinic as they encouraged one another and provided feedback on their voice improvements proved invaluable.
We met as a group in the morning and evening on Saturday and Sunday to practice our best voices as we circled up and talked in a group. All five were very pleased with the increased ease in speaking in front of others and in sharing the strategies that were working for them. They were also given a choice of what to target for the last day. Some felt they needed more breathing work with Mike and some felt they wanted to work more with Connie.
There were a few highlights of the weekend that added to the camaraderie and fun which was a contrast to the intensity of our work. The first was when a delivery guy from the deli brought our lunch in. Mike and I were in sessions so one of our participants took the food. The young man asked what we were doing working on a Saturday and was told it was a voice course. When I came out to pay him, he asked, "So what kind of voices do you guys do?" to which I laughingly replied, "any kind we can.".
That evening, everyone was invited to Connie's house for a social. My teenage daughter was in and out and was introduced to everyone. As she left, she asked who all those people were. I explained that they were my voice clients and that I was helping them to get their voices back like I had. She said, "Oh, well they all sound fine to me." They were pleased when I shared her comment the next day!
On Sunday, we all went to a restaurant together. Everyone ordered their own food with ease, teased the waitress, and there was non-stop chatter and laughter the entire lunch. The waitress made the comment that we certainly seemed to have a good time together. No one overhearing us would have found anything strange or different about the voices that emerged. I was so proud of the group.
Each participant left with an armful of materials and brain full of strategies and information to use, a compliance contract, and renewed hope for continued success. Each completed an evaluation, and reported anywhere from 30-75% improvement in their voices over the weekend. Here are the testimonials of some of the individual participants:
Bonnie (Mixed SD, 12 years) "Connie definitely has a great understanding of SD, as well as the aspects that involve the throat and facial muscles. She is very sensitive to each person's needs, preferences, and feelings and very approachable. Mike is extremely knowledgeable about breathing mechanics and can find the natural voice in anyone. I feel quite confident that the knowledge and tools I have received will be all I need to continue building on the progress I made here at the clinic.
"The Voice Clinic was just what I needed to show me that it IS possible to overcome SD, and to motivate me to begin my own journey to true recovery. The detailed and specific information I received during the clinic helped me to realize exactly where my problems lie with regards to my voice production. I learned that SD is not one simple problem, but a combination of many incorrect breathing habits and other bad habits we pick up along the way to try to compensate for our "bad" voices. Connie's consistent emotional support and encouragement were great motivators."
L.S. (AB/SD, 5 years) "Both Connie and Mike are heart-centered in their work and clearly wish for the highest good for their clients. I leave this workshop feeling greatly encouraged that the skills and insights I have gained here will, with continued practice, enable me to steadily progress toward a voice that is functional under all circumstances. Connie and Mike have created a client-centered approach that is both comprehensive and highly individualized. They bring great heart and spirit to work that is much needed in this world."
Brenda (AB/SD, 6 months) "I was drawn to this clinic because Connie had suffered from SD and knew how I felt. She understood the devastating consequences of SD. She had put to use her knowledge of speech pathology and incorporated other methods, such as Roger Love's to help her overcome SD. I did not come to this clinic with illusions of returning home with a healed voice in 3 ½ days. I came so Connie could teach me the techniques. I was not disappointed. Connie is very up beat and optimistic, I had no where to go but up. She helped me find my optimum pitch and showed me how to practice. I learned through Mike that good breathing is the key to maintaining the voice. I believe I have all the tools I need to strengthen and maintain my new voice, improved 70% since I arrived."
Jay (AD/SD, 3 ½ years) "In my experience with SD, I have come to learn that breath support is crucial to maintaining an effortless voice. But it is very difficult to obtain that needed breath support when my vocal folds are tight. The Free to Speak Voice Clinic places a major focus on first freeing your breath, so that you can then produce an improved voice, and do so without effort. My voice improved 70% at the clinic."
Sarah (Abductor SD/ 7 years) "I have always felt that there must be ways of combating SD by natural means without resorting to botox injections. What is so significant about this course is that it is run by someone with personal experience of this condition who has greatly improved her voice through her own efforts. This in itself offers hope to SD sufferers everywhere. The course teaches a variety of techniques that may help improve one's voice. But more important than particular exercises or immediate benefit is the sense this course instills; that it is possible to improve one's voice by natural means. It is just a question of finding what works for you personally and putting the practice in. I am so please that I did the course as I feel that it has given me a totally renewed impetus and many tools to attack this problem."
Free to Speak Voice and Speech Therapy
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