September 2008 Spasmodic Dysphonia Treatment clinic
Craig - AD/SD 3 years : 3 botox injections, speech therapy, acid reflux medication.
I feel the clinic will be invaluable to recovering my voice. Mike and Connie are wonderful to work with. They really understand how SD not only affects you physically, but how it affects you emotionally. Having the clinic in her home helps make the whole process relaxing. Being with others who have SD really helps bring the whole experience together. By the end of the week, they really felt like family. I felt like I improved 30%, but really feel that the skills they taught me will help me totally recover my voice.
Betty– AD/SD and MTD 1 year: No prior treatment
I have had SD over 11 months. I was “working hard” trying to overcome the disorder on my own. During the clinic, the holistic approach that Connie and Mike used clicked with me and the improvement in my voice, especially on Saturday, was astounding to me (and my husband on the phone). Thank you Connie and Mike!
George –AB/SD 14 years: 5 botox injections, one month DVR with Morton Cooper in 1995
First of all, I owe much of my voice recovery to Dr. Morton Cooper. My voice improved a great deal under his instruction and guidance. Recently I began to get off target with my breathing and my voice was good only under low stress situations. This actually affected the fluency of my speech. I decided to attend the “Free to Speak Voice Rehabilitation Clinic” with Connie and Mike.
Connie and Mike realize that at times this disorder is more complex than just tone, focus and pitch. They deal with SD in more of a holistic approach, considering the physiological and psycho-social aspects. In my case, since I have had SD for some time, I had developed tension in certain areas relative to speech. Even though I could produce a good voice in situations when I was calm and alone, tension took over in other mildly stressful times. They taught me techniques and other resources to help. Tone, focus, pitch and proper breath support are all things you learn at the clinic, but the psycho-social part of this disorder cannot be understated.
Some of the things that I came away with which would be useful to all those with SD in general are:
1. Our speech does not have to be perfect. Many people with SD have type-A personalities (I am definitely included). Sometimes I felt that, because I had a break in my speech, it was awful. That would make me try too hard, which would create tension and affect my voice.
2. Relaxation is very important. If we are relaxed, everything flows, including our voices. Practice should be as relaxed as possible. In addition, practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson is an excellent book.
3. Don’t be hard on yourself. Cut yourself some slack and be kind to yourself. If you have SD and are not sure if you should attend the clinic or not, I would strongly urge you to attend. Intensive Voice Rehabilitation will give you the tools to regain your voice without surgery or drugs. The medical community wants you to believe that botox and/or surgery are the only ways, but they are not. I have seen many people with SD improve their voices in a matter of days at Connie’s clinic and at Dr. Cooper’s by using their techniques. It is not a magic bullet, but if you take responsibility for your disorder, and are willing to make a consistent effort at regaining your voice by practicing the techniques daily, you will improve and be glad that you attended.
Rick – AD/SD 1.5 years: acupuncture, acid reflux medication
My frantic search for a cure for my spasmodic dysphonia led me to Connie’s clinic. When I first searched the internet to find a solution, I found Connie’s book, her clinic, and Mike’s web site and breathing tests. After reading Connie’s book and talking with her on the telephone, I quickly decided that her spirit, understanding, and expertise matched my needs. Also, it was very important for me to get help from someone who had recovered from SD.
I can’t imagine getting through SD without this comprehensive clinic. Connie and Mike were professional, thoughtful, concerned, helpful, and offered individual strategies for each of the four of us attending. The clinic was well planned and took place in the comfort of Connie’s home on a canal leading out to Tampa Bay. We put in many hours each day on voice improvement and breathing, shared our concerns, laughed and supported one another.
My initial assessment by Connie on the first day was a bit frightening. Speaking caused me anxiety, stress and required much effort. Connie gave me suggestions to work on to find my voice. I then spent an hour with Mike to work on improving my breathing. A few months before the clinic I had already started to correct my poor breathing, but Mike accelerated this process significantly. He quietly observed my breathing, posture and voicing before discussing my lifestyle.
During each of the five days of the clinic, I spent time with Connie and Mike developing my breathing and voicing. New ideas, new exercises, new breakthroughs characterized each meeting. Mike and Connie also met with the group each day to check in, answer questions, and suggest new solutions. All attending discovered that we had to let go of tension in our lives and become more aware of what this tension was doing to our voices.
After the first day I was feeling discouraged; my voice was not better! Of course, my expectations were misaligned with reality, big time. On the second day, I noted improvement. There was more resonance in my voice, I was able to go deeper in my pitch and project the sound into my face more easily. Each day was better overall. Karaoke night, our last evening together, would have strained my voice even before I had SD, but the next morning my voice was stronger, deeper and projected better.
On the final day of the clinic, Connie’s assessment of my progress was very encouraging. Compared with her initial assessment using her computer software, my pitch decreased significantly (this is good), my resonance had improved, and my flow of speaking was much less broken. Our subjective assessment of my improvement was very good also as we heard significant improvement.
I think my progress would have been less significant if I had not been with others struggling with the same challenge. It was extremely important to me to be part of a group. We were able to discuss progress, setbacks, compare life tensions and frustrations contributing to our SD, and laugh and relax together. Before the clinic, I had never met anyone else with SD. There I was with three other people with similar challenges, yet very different stories. The opportunity to share this experience with three new friends was extremely important to me.
At first, I thought the cost of the clinic was high, but after attending, I feel that it is a bargain. Many factors changed my mind about this, including the hours spent with Connie and Mike in private and as a group, the included books and breathing development aids, computer software, lunches and dinner, the follow-up six hours of consultation, and the degree of commitment by Connie and Mike. But the most important reason I feel the clinic is a bargain is because of the improvement in my voice.
As a result of this clinic, I am expecting to improve my voice each week from here on, and finally cure myself of SD. This clinic has improved my voice significantly, probably over 50% in just five days. Before the clinic, I was not certain if I would ever have a normal voice again; now I know I will. Thank you Connie and Mike for your insight, expertise and care.