Event Title

I Can't Speak but I Can Sing: How Singing Restored One Woman's Faith in Her Voice While Dealing with Spasmodic Dysphonia

Start Date

1-6-2011 2:00 PM

End Date

1-6-2011 2:30 PM

Description

Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD) is a voice disorder characterized by continuous, involuntary movements of one or more of the vocal folds during speech. There are three types of spasmodic dysphonia: Adductor SD – when sudden involuntary muscle spasms cause the vocal folds to slam together and stiffen; Abductor SD – when sudden involuntary muscle spasms cause the vocal folds to stay open; and Mixed SD – which has a combination of both Adductor and Abductor SD symptoms.

The cause of SD is, as yet, unknown - other than that its basis is neurological – and there is no known cure or successful long-term treatment. For most who are afflicted with SD, the onset seems to come out of nowhere, and often develops rapidly. Because the population of sufferers is small, (between 50,000 and 100,000 reported cases in the U.S), research into the cause of SD has little funding and is therefore negligible. Nevertheless, for those with SD, daily life can be physically and emotionally arduous, particularly as they struggle to literally make themselves heard, contend with the negative reactions of others, and deal with the emotional fallout of suddenly having what is often referred to in the SD community as a ‘broken voice’.

This study considers one woman’s struggle with SD, and looks at the transformative learning process engendered through participation in singing that enabled her to find new meaning with and about her embodied voice, and thus realize an enlarged sense of self. I examine how the holistic experience of learning to sing, and singing publicly for the first time at age 59, gradually allowed a shift away from limiting perspectives about living with a diminished voice, and toward a deeper sense of self-knowledge, sense of well-being, and renewed sense of agency. I discuss, as well, the entwined relationship between voice and identity, and how central voice is to how we perceive ourselves, and how others perceive us.

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Jun 1st, 2:00 PM Jun 1st, 2:30 PM

I Can't Speak but I Can Sing: How Singing Restored One Woman's Faith in Her Voice While Dealing with Spasmodic Dysphonia

Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD) is a voice disorder characterized by continuous, involuntary movements of one or more of the vocal folds during speech. There are three types of spasmodic dysphonia: Adductor SD – when sudden involuntary muscle spasms cause the vocal folds to slam together and stiffen; Abductor SD – when sudden involuntary muscle spasms cause the vocal folds to stay open; and Mixed SD – which has a combination of both Adductor and Abductor SD symptoms.

The cause of SD is, as yet, unknown - other than that its basis is neurological – and there is no known cure or successful long-term treatment. For most who are afflicted with SD, the onset seems to come out of nowhere, and often develops rapidly. Because the population of sufferers is small, (between 50,000 and 100,000 reported cases in the U.S), research into the cause of SD has little funding and is therefore negligible. Nevertheless, for those with SD, daily life can be physically and emotionally arduous, particularly as they struggle to literally make themselves heard, contend with the negative reactions of others, and deal with the emotional fallout of suddenly having what is often referred to in the SD community as a ‘broken voice’.

This study considers one woman’s struggle with SD, and looks at the transformative learning process engendered through participation in singing that enabled her to find new meaning with and about her embodied voice, and thus realize an enlarged sense of self. I examine how the holistic experience of learning to sing, and singing publicly for the first time at age 59, gradually allowed a shift away from limiting perspectives about living with a diminished voice, and toward a deeper sense of self-knowledge, sense of well-being, and renewed sense of agency. I discuss, as well, the entwined relationship between voice and identity, and how central voice is to how we perceive ourselves, and how others perceive us.