“Free to speak” voice clinic for spasmodic dysphonia

 

 

In July 2007 I attended the voice clinic at Connie Pike’s house in Apollo beach, Florida, USA.

Before registering for her clinic, I searched the internet trying to find people who recovered from SD and who could help me.
Soon I found the website of Dr. Morton Cooper in Los Angeles, USA.

I called him on the phone to find out more. He asked me to humm, happy birthday. That was no problem for me.
He listened and said:”You have a good chance of fully recovering your voice. Can you come to L.A for 4 weeks?
How much will it cost I asked him?
“5.000 dollar per week”:he said. “And I want you to come for four weeks.”

20.000 dollar…? A lot of money!
But I really wanted to recover, badly. So I went to the bank to ask if they could lend me the money.
I explained them everything, and that I needed the money to be able to keep my job.
They agreed with the lending and I was looking forward to going to the states and getting my old life back.

I kept on browsing the internet and found Connie Pike’s clinic.
A lot cheaper and more complete was my opinion. Only 2000 Dollar!

So I decided to register for the clinic and go for the first available date.

Below in the video, you can hear my voice before I went to the voice clinic.

I arrived in her nice house on the 4th of July.
When I entered the room, another guy was sitting at the table and I thought that he was in a terrible condition.
He had great difficulty with getting some voice out and his neck and shoulders were twisted. I thought that he was an invalid.

Around his neck was a thick black collar. He suffered from spasmodic torticollis and spasmodic dysphonia.
His name is Ron Cox.
Below in the video, you can see and hear Ron Cox before the voice clinic,
which he attended with me.

He was worse of then I was. What I didn’t knew then was that he was going to recover from both disorders within a year, fully.

The other participants for the clinic arrived after me and we ended up with a group of 6 people. 3 guys and 3 ladies.


I am the second person from the right. Ron is the second person from the left.

Voice Clinic Connie Pike

We exchanged stories and it was a revelation to meet other people who suffered in the same way as I did.
I was not alone.

I was in the right place.

The 5 day clinic consisted of different parts:

Private speech training sessions

Personal sessions with Connie Pike of about one hour, 3 times. The session was video taped to watch back later at home.
We learned how to speak in a different way. Ways to get the voice out by speaking from the “mask” which is the area between your nose and mouth.

Speaking at a lower (men) or a higher pitch (women). Using the full force of the voice by using the full resonance of the whole body.
Doing different exercises with words and sentences starting with certain letters and sounds.

Some are difficult when you suffer from abductor sd and others are difficult when you have adductor sd.

Connie knew what she was talking about because she herself recovered from spasmodic dysphonia a few years before.
She has helped dozens of people to recover their voice.
Below in the video, you can see a very small part of my private sessions with Connie.

Private breathing sessions with Mike White

Mike started off with breath assessment. We had this breath flow meter which he used to measure the long capacity and the quality of my breathing.


Which was fine.

He learned me to speak with good breath support. Standing up straight with the head tilted down a little bit, to have maximum flow past the vocal chords.
Mike works very intuitively to get your voice out so we ended up in some strange body positions to connect to my voice.

But it worked.

By finding some way to get your good voice out makes you experience a breakthrough which sparks the fire of hope.
You go from there.

Singing with Roger Love’s cd.

This consisted of singing with the whole group together, led by Connie Pike. The singing is fun and good for your breathing.
You sing scales with different sounds.

Self practise on the computer with voiceprint

The computer program: “Voiceprint” displays the pitch and the volume graphically on your screen. You speak in the microphone while the program runs and you see a horizontal graph of your voice pitch. It is great to see with with your eyes what your voice is doing. I continued to use the program long after I got back. It was a great tool to record voice samples and keep them for later. It tells you if you are on the right pitch and whether you speak with resonance.

Massage to relax the whole body

When the electric massage bed was available, we could use it to relax the muscles.
It is the Ceragem massage bed.
It massages different parts of your body while applying infra-red heat.
It was nice.

Manual massage by Megan Pike.

Megan Pike (Connie’s daughter) massaged everybody two times during the 5 day clinic. It is better then automatic massage because a machine is just a machine.
Especially the throat, neck and face were taken care of.

Group talk to discuss progress and revelations

We did this a couple of times. Everybody in it’s turn shared where they were coming from. How long they suffered from sd,
what they tried before, what worked and what impact the sd had on their life.
Connie shared with us her struggle and the story of her recovery. She told us her ups and downs and the lessons she learned.
Group breathing exercises with Mike white.

Mike showed and thought us different techniques, tricks and body positions to get more air in.
The more air you get in, the more power you have to get the voice out.

Psychological evaluation with Robbie Goss

We had one session with Robbie Goss, who is a psychologist. He interprets the Taylor-Johnson Psychosocial test we performed online before we came to the clinic.
The Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis® (T-JTA®) is a quick and convenient method of measuring important personality traits that influence personal, interpersonal, scholastic, and vocational functioning and adjustment. It functions both a diagnostic device and counseling tool.

T-JTA Content

The T-JTA measures 9 personality traits and their opposites:
• Nervous ↔ Composed
• Depressive ↔ Light-Hearted
• Active-Social ↔ Quiet
• Expressive-Responsive ↔ Inhibited
• Sympathetic ↔ Indifferent
• Subjective ↔ Objective
• Dominant ↔ Submissive
• Hostile ↔ Tolerant
• Self-Disciplined ↔ Impulsive

The profile gives you insight in your character profile.
My result was that I strongly tend to:

Emotional
Impulsive
Unorganised

That is so true.
I am also a quite shy and introvert person.
So Robby told me that with my character profile it would be hard to stick to the training schedule.

The clinic was great because:

  • You met with fellow sd sufferers
  • You could hear first hand from somebody who recovered her voice from sd (Connie Pike)
  • We were a nice group
  • It gave me hope and that I was not alone on this journey
  • I had things to do to recover my voice

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