October 2012 Spasmodic Dysphonia Treatment Clinic
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.