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October 2011 Spasmodic Dysphonia Treatment Clinic
Rachel: Severe muscle tension dysphonia; AB/SD 3 years post-onset , but with brief periods of remission. Had participated in voice therapy, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and Feldenkrais.
The clinic was a wonderful opportunity to meet other people with voice issues and to learn from and share with them. The fact that Connie blends personal experience with speech/language knowledge ensures the clinic input is grounded, real, informed and from the heart. There were times at the clinic I felt significant improvement, but it was not consistent. There were times when the voice was almost normal, 85% for bursts, and not improved at all other times. For me, the most valuable thing was knowing that my voice will improve if I stay committed to practicing easy sounds, relaxing, and trusting the process I’m in. It also gave me focus for what I need to do. Prior to the clinic, I was exercising randomly, then getting discouraged and frustrated because it didn’t seem to make a difference. Thank you!
Greg: AB/SD since June 2008, slow onset, botox injection unsuccessful.
There is nothing this clinic will do except help anyone with SD. This clinic can give you a huge step toward recovery. Connie gives you a road map, and you just have to follow it to get to where you want to go. While the change in my voice during the clinic was not significant overall, there were moments when I could see that my voice is there and can change significantly over time. My breathing improved. It’s like learning a new language, so different from what I was doing before and feels so much better.
Shelby: AD/SD since 1988, participated in studies at Baylor and at NIH, the second utilizing botox injections. Speech therapy was not helpful. Discontinued botox in late 1990 and lived with the condition since that time. It fluctuated from pretty good to very bad.
What drew me to the clinic were the videos and testimonials of previous clients as well as Connie’s own story of SD recovery with the program. Once I arrived, I was immediately taken by the atmosphere and staff. The structure of the clinic was conducive to getting to know the other clients through group voice and breathing practice. Sharing the struggles of our common problem and socializing during “down times”. The bonding experience was very strong. Personally, I received great benefit from Dennis’s knowledge of muscle manipulation and overall knowledge of all things internal. His style of presentation is relaxed, humorous, and informative. He validated my belief that this condition is more than a vocal cord problem – it is a mind/body problem and he provided numerous ways to bring the two into alignment. I was very impressed with the variety of tools Connie provided for continued practice and going forward. My family and friends have been amazed at the change in my voice during the clinic. Although I continue to have “moments”, I was instructed to expect them. Overall, the clinic was one of the most beneficial experiences I have ever had. Not only was I given hope that my voice could get better, I got results and my voice HAS gotten better. After 24 years of struggle with SD, Connie Pike’s “Free to Speak” clinic has truly enabled me to speak freely. Thank you Connie, Dennis and Chris!
Valerie: AD/SD since June 2008; 7 days with Morton Cooper in the fall 2008. She recovered her voice until February 2011, when it began to slowly deteriorate.
The clinic was truly great. It was a safe environment with love and support. While I already intellectually understood and previously experienced proper vocal mechanics, this clinic helped develop my awareness of the mind/body connection. It is important for both self-health and vocal health to just relax and release. I became more aware of my breathing and learned not to push, but to relax and allow. I think that perhaps a few more days would have been good for me personally. However, a 5-day clinic is truly adequate. I love you guys, and you too, Bob! *(Connie’s husband)
AA: AB/SD with tremor 10 years following a bout of laryngitis; one Botox injection without improvement, 4 weeks with Morton Cooper in December 2001 with dramatic results, but remained “handicapped” and concerned about his voice in conversations and on the phone.
The clinic was very well organized and thought-out. It had a heavy focus on central nervous system management and breathing, which are critical components to improve upon when you have SD. There was also a focus on proper voice pitch and resonance. I feel like I got tremendous benefit from the clinic and expect to get even more benefits as I internalize and practice the many techniques that I learned. The incredible sense of community formed with the instructors and other participants added to the efficacy, making the experience and incredibly fun and memorable one.
Michael: Diagnosed with functional dystonia September 2010, MTD with possible SD in October 2010 (both in the UK) and with SD/MTD at Massachusetts General and Massachusetts Eye and Ear in April 2010. Botox was recommended but refused. (Symptoms began in December 2009, possibly earlier).
I found the clinic to be a holistic approach and beyond for voice recovery. The multi-dimensional approach of vocal mechanics, breathing, body awareness, nutrition, relaxation techniques, psychosocial, and spiritual aspects attend to the complexity of SD. Mix these modalities with the dynamics of working with others experiencing SD, and you have an accelerant to progress. Working in a group of people with SD is invaluable. It is rare to have the opportunity to meet others with SD and the opportunity to interact with people and the shared experiences. Participants feel safe to socialize. The network created by the group allows participants to coach one another and provide feedback as they practice the exercises and techniques learned. This is not a cookie-cutter approach to treatment, but individualized programs designed for the needs of each participant. The therapists are knowledgeable and skillful at design and instruction. They are compassionate and thoughtful in providing encouragement, guidance and support. The clinic takes place in Connie’s home. This environment and the generosity and graciousness of Connie and Bob create a place to relax and immerse in recovery. It is a home where everyone feels a part of the family. All of these factors contribute to the bottom line; recovery of our voices so that we can be “free to speak”.