February 2014 Spasmodic Dysphonia Treatment Clinic
Shirley: AD/SD diagnosed in November 2011, with onset one year before that. Voice therapy and 2 botox injections were unsuccessful (swallowing problems and unable to sing) Shirley reported 30-40% improvement in her voice at the clinic, as well as acquiring correct diaphragmatic breathing.
“As a person with SD, I can testify that this clinic has been very beneficial as it showed me proper breathing which opened up my mind to speaking like I sing, using my diaphragm. It taught me that breathing and relaxation are significant components to the road back to speaking freely. The staff were extremely knowledgable on the SD subjects and made the experience not only healing, but also made everyone feel special.
I would recommend this clinic to anyone suffering with SD who wants to try a holistic approach to healing and is open to new ideas on how to speak. All aspects of the clinic were well planned out by Connie and her staff.
I am one of the fortunate ones. I feel I can definitely go back home and use the tools given me daily to achieve the ability to speak freely.
The food was great, too. It was well worth the cost.”
Dan: AD/SD with gradual onset, diagnosed in 2009, treated regularly with botox for three years with minimal benefit. He sometimes experienced breathiness for up to 6 weeks. Reported significant improvement in breathing and voice, and rated improvement at 50% at the clinic.
“I love the holistic approach. That is what is required to recover your voice. The support of the group and the beautiful surroundings of Connie’s home provide a warm, safe, encouraging environment in which to learn, practice, and heal. Hearing Connie’s story of courage and persistence is highly motivating and instructive. You gain a tool bag of exercises, tips and life-style changes that I am confident has put me on the road to recovery.”
Kimmy: Diagnosed with severe MTD, possibly SD in December 2010. (This therapist’s assessment revealed an oral dystonia involving the tongue and possibly the soft palate, with use of the posterior tongue and palate as a sound source). Kimmy reported that her voice broke as she was singing in 2000, first in singing and later in speaking. She noted problems with voice strain and hoarseness dating back to her teenage years, and a history of surgery for vocal fold polyps. She tried voice therapy and Alexander technique, as well as acupuncture.
“I do feel as if my voice has improved as I am using more tone instead of making a primitive sound to communicate. I saw improvement on Thursday, and then had an emotional setback due to the contact of a toxic person in my life. It was good timing as it allowed me to address the issue with Dennis and Connie and find ways to help myself cope when the emotions run high. I found it difficult to talk with the others as they all seemed to sound so good to me. My voice is so unique and I feel I have a lot more difficulty communicating.
My breathing improved for certain. I had forgotten how to breathe. My posture has improved as well. Breathing through my nose and letting it gently flow into my lower chest, not breathing so hard, and stretches to release my diaphragm/solar plexus have helped a lot.
I learned so many wonderful skills over the five days. It has been wonderful to hear reinforcing teaching that coincided with the skills and thoughts I already had discovered. It was good to hear that my body was already telling me certain things would work and I just needed to find the skill to achieve results. I am leaving the clinic with so much confidence. I know I will be able to use these skills to restore my voice AND to help others!
Connie is wonderful. I have such a connection because we have so much in common in our personal lives. Her passion for helping others shines from within. Christine is just peace, peaceful and nurturing. My first consultation with her was the best by far. She pressed on my upper chest (heart chakra) and I burst into tears. It was an amazing release. I learned so much from Dennis. His approach to life – spiritually, emotionally, and physically was exactly what I believe and I could not get enough!!! I wanted to take them home with me.”
Barb: AD/SD with sudden onset in 2002. Two ENT doctors diagnosed Muscle Tension Dysphonia and she had months of speech therapy that did not help. She was then diagnosed with SD and received regular botox injections for 9/10 years with variable results. Barb stated that “every other shot missed but there was improvement. Problems swallowing developed”
Barb did not feel that her voice significantly changed at the clinic, but did note improvement. Breathing improved significiantly and she learned to let her voice flow out with the breath.
“The holistic approach to SD is the only thing that makes sense. It is a multifaceted problem that needs a multifaceted approach. This is the only program that offers that. It will help our voices as well as other aspects of our life.”
Connie S: Hoarseness, hyperfunction, incompetent larynx diagnosed in September 2012, but with onset in 2010. Voice therapy with inconsistent results, acupuncture. (This therapist’s assessment was suggestive of Muscle tension dysphonia). Connie had significant improvement in breathing and voice.
“I would encourage anyone with a voice problem to attend Connie Pike’s Free to Speak clinic. The experience has exceeded my expectations. The level of voice instruction, compassion, introduction and training in ways to actually change our ways of thinking and speaking, and the experience and support of others creates an environment that would not be even comparable to any of the services that I have received in the past three years.
We now have hope, and tools to continue to take care of ourselves and be proactive in our recovery. We know how our thoughts impact outcomes – but not in a way that would fit a description of a psychosomatic condition. We have tools, resources, and strategies that work.
My personal experience has led me back to my previous experiences of a loving God and an outlook of a joyful future. Like many things, this condition is like what I call a “perfect storm”. When the conditions come together, there’s a risk. It was like being in the middle of a hurricane with no way out – a place where various factors come together and overwhelmed my health, habits, faith, and energy. There are valuable lessons at the clinic. I will appreciate life more, not take it for granted, and join my new friends in our journey toward the best, most meaningful and most appreciate time in my life – which is beginning again. Thank you!”
Bill: AD/SD, onset in 2005 and diagnosed by 2 ENTs and 2 SLPs. Bill felt that his voice improved 40% at the clinic and that he learned better breathing with less forcing of his voice.
“Attending the Free to Speak Intensive voice rehabilitation clinic was one of the best decisions I ever made. The timing was perfect – I had suffered long enough to know that I did not want to do so any longer and I was being scheduled for botox injections.
There were so many benefits in attending:
First, I learned to think outside the box about SD; yes, it is a neurological problem, but it can be improved because the brain can be re-grooved by learning how to produce proper speech (and habits) and then repeating them often until they replace the SD habits.
Second, I learned those new habits leading to proper speech. They include proper breathing, posture, muscle and mental tension release, and the role of positive affirmations. In addition, I learned proper speech techniques and received many tools (toys) to use to facilitate these – Voiceprint, physioball, kazoo, Roger Love book/CD, The Voice Book (CD) and more.
I learned the value of variety. For example, instead of reading 10 pages of word lists (the last 6 with a strained voice), I need to read a page or two and then move on to something else, perhaps on the ball or hum/kazoo or sing Roger Love. In addition, I learned to do something every hour or so to repeat a correct practice so that my brain has a better opportunity to re-groove.
Perhaps what I value more than anything else from the SD clinic are the people (Connie, Dennis and Christine) and the love, compassion and truth they brought to my life. The program is outstanding in WHAT it teaches; but what makes it excellent is who teaches it! In addition, to be with others who are experiencing SD is of such great value. Before the clinic, I had never met someone else with SD; I was blessed to spend a week with a half dozen people from all walks of like who suffer the same problem and all the issues that go with it.
I leave with a program that I can implement day by day to achieve the voice I want. I am motivated and I have great HOPE, which is the anchor of my soul. If you have SD, do not wait another minute – enroll in the next clinic and begin your journey to HOPE – you will learn that once again, you can be FREE TO SPEAK!