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January 2010 Spasmodic Dysphonia Treatment Clinic
Betty – AD/SD, MTD 18 years: No formal treatment, no medications. History of counseling and alternative treatments including Reike, relaxation techniques, vitamins and supplements, and some hypnosis.
I had a brief bout with childhood stuttering as well as a history of periodic classroom stammering. My onset of SD is associated with uncovering repressed emotions in 1991-92 over an emotionally abusive upbringing. Counseling was helpful to alleviate symptoms and SD was intermittent until the past 2-3 years, when it had worsened considerably.
At the clinic, I experienced 50% improvement in my voice and breathing. I am highly grateful for the various tools now available to me. SD rehabilitation is not something one can simply read about or intellectualize and try on their own. It needs to be taught by highly knowledgeable and experienced practitioners such as Connie and Mike, and practiced in a safe and supportive environment with fellow SD sufferers experiencing similar issues.
Enough cannot be said about the impact camaraderie has on SD. During the clinic, I was inspired by the breakthroughs and improvement each one of us had experienced. In addition, after spending 4 days with Connie and hearing her rehabilitated voice, she bravely shared a video of herself from around the time she had first come down with SD. I saw a lot of myself in her and became especially encouraged and inspired by the post onset Connie that we had been learning from. If she can do it, so can we.
Connie S – Ad/SD with symptoms for 11 years, diagnosed in 2000 at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Botox injections from 2001 – August 2009.
My voice improved significantly at the clinic as I found better flow and ease of voicing. I had an incredible breakthrough in a release of tension throughout the core of my being with the breathing.
The clinic was amazing. My voice improved tremendously as I learned the tools and techniques given. As a result, life force came through me and my voice became free flowing and strong. Being with others who struggle with SD made it easy to relate, understand and encourage one another. Wonderful friendships were made.
Connie and Mike are filled with compassion, wisdom, knowledge, experience, kindness, understanding and love. I left the clinic with so much hope and expectation of great things to continue for my voice and overall well being. I am so grateful for such a gift!
Analee – AD/SD with symptoms beginning in the mid 90’s. History of speech therapy, followed by Botox injections for 6 years. Took a sabbatical in 2007 to stop the botox injections and explore alternatives. Tried Reiki, acupuncture and voice exercises from Morton Cooper’s book. Looking to change career to teaching.
My voice improved 75% at the clinic. I experienced a clearer voice, free expression with less tension and recovered my singing voice. I was able to take deeper, longer breaths, and develop a way of meditating that was deep and satisfying where following my breath was easy and natural. I gained lots of tools and a compliance contract to organize and form a plan – excellent!
The clinic was a godsend to me – literally. I have suffered from SD for 15 years, used Botox with mixed results, and had been working on my own with voice rehabilitation exercises I had read about. I found Connie one Sunday afternoon when I “googled” spasmodic dysphonia to see what was new on the disorder on the internet.
I came into the clinic with high hopes, and I not only met those high expectations, I exceeded them. The holistic approach in a group setting was perfect. Connie combines expertise as a speech pathologist with her own personal journey of recovering her voice from the devastation of SD. Mike is a true breathing guru and an effective trainer. Learning to breathe was particularly helpful to me – a new, crucial component to my voice recovery. I am well on my way to full recovery of my speaking and most dear to me, my singing voice.
Lynn –AB/AD, MTD with onset in 1998. Symptoms worsened the past 3 years: speech therapy, chiropractic, allergy testing, acupressure, EFT, yoga.
My voice improved 50% at the clinic. My voice felt better during muscle relaxation, massage, neck tension releases and increased breathing. I would say that my time at the clinic was the best personal investment I could have made in finding the correct ways to improve SD. I now know that I could not have done this on my own as the techniques are far better understood and practiced in person.
Learning my “doing” helped me tremendously. I also feel that the atmosphere in a home-office setting made the experience real and relaxed, and made me feel safe as those around me shared and helped each other.
Connie is a true inspiration and role model that I admire – a true gem. Her determination and ability to teach me what I needed to know has been priceless. I will go on with this journey knowing that I, too, will sound better!
Richard – Essential tremor, vocal tremor 5 years: speech therapy, botox injections 1/2007 – 8/2009, medications for anxiety and acid reflux, Alexander technique, acupuncture, massage, meditation.
In a single word, the Voice Clinic was transformative. The relaxed setting of Connie Pike’s home office provided a comfortable supportive environment where we could let go and be ourselves – 5 people with voice disorders learning techniques to make our voices better. For me, the effects were frequently apparent immediately and offered a window through which I could see how my voice might be on a regular basis if I continued to put into use these new practices.
While I was aware that stress made my voice worse, a huge unexpected bonus was to learn that incorrect breathing affected not only my voice, but my entire physical and emotional being. After trying Mike White’s breathing suggestions I could feel immediate relaxation and calm throughout my whole body. That alone was worth the price.
What made this clinic so special? The whole person was addressed – not only voice and breathing; posture, emotions, etc. and we had a good time while doing it. Additionally, while being able to watch and listen to the voices and stories of the other participants, I was able to see myself and my struggle to speak from a perspective that I otherwise would never have been able to experience.
It’s a great feeling to know that I am finally done with Botox!