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January 2006 Spasmodic Dysphonia Treatment Clinic #1
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."