Losing your voice can be a scary thing. Voice loss or laryngitis happens when your vocal cords become inflamed from overuse, infection, or irritation. If you’re wondering about the severity of your voice loss, the Mayo Clinic has excellent information on symptoms and causes.
If you experience voice loss (laryngitis) for 2 weeks or longer, you should seek medical advice from an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor (ENT) to examine the cause of the persistent voice loss.
Short-Term Tips for Managing Your Voice Loss
Below are some tips to help reduce the strain associated with voice loss while awaiting your appointment with the ENT:
- Vocal rest- try not to use your voice as much as you typically do, however, do not whisper as that can be more harmful than shouting.
- Avoid calling out and yelling- walk to the person who you are talking to
- Drink lots of water- keep hydrated
- Manuka honey and ginger are great for the voice and soothing to have when the voice is not at its best.
- Avoid singing and throat clearing as they can be harmful to the voice when it is already in a weakened state.
What if the ENT recommends speech therapy for the voice loss?
If speech therapy is recommended for the voice loss, you will be referred directly to a qualified speech pathologist with experience in voice disorders. The speech pathologist will complete an assessment and set goals to get your voice back on track.
Exercises may focus on the following areas depending on your specific type of voice loss:
- Reduction of tension in the larynx (area where the vocal cords are housed)
- Improving the tone of the voice (may sound rough, raspy, hoarse when you are experiencing voice loss)
- Improving the pitch of the voice (how high or low the voice is)
- Altering diet to reduce symptoms of acid reflux
- Reducing hard contacts of the vocal cords when voicing, so that the voice starts easily and gently
- Relaxation exercises to help alleviate stress and strain
How long will it take to improve my voice loss?
Everyone is different with respect to their vocal use and musculature, so it is tricky to put an exact time frame to the therapy. Typically you will see vocal improvements in 6-10 sessions; you may need some maintenance sessions to keep up with the new strategies and improved way of using your voice.
At SpeechWorks, we have a fully equipped voice lab with videostrobscopy analysis to view your vocal cords when you are speaking and computer equipment that allows us to track your progress in therapy. Call us or check out our voice lab for more information! We would be happy to help you with your vocal needs.
Linda Saarenvirta is a speech-language pathologist who has been practicing for over 20 years in the healthcare field. She has worked with a variety of communication disorders and clients of all ages. She is extremely passionate about voice therapy and enjoys helping clients achieve their vocal needs. Her client centered approach to therapy ensures all clients maximize their potential and achieve their goals.
What are visual schedules?
Visual schedules use a series of pictures to communicate a series of activities or the steps of a specific activity. They are often used to help children understand and manage the daily events in their lives. They can be created using pictures, photographs, or written words, depending upon the ability of the child.
Who uses visual schedules?
Visual schedules can be used with any child; however those children who are visual learners will benefit most from it. Visual schedules are used frequently with children who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Why should I use visual schedules with my child?
There are many benefits to using visual schedules including:
- Allowing child to see what is coming next in the routine
- Decreasing challenging behaviours
- Making transitions smoother
- Promoting independence
- Increasing receptive and expressive communication
- Is a great reminder of verbal directions given
How to make visual schedules:
- glue stick
- Bristol board
- pictures (can be created with a camera or on a computer depending on the level of the child)
- Pen/marker to label the picture (if not creating them on the computer),
- laminating paper (mactac)
- Gather materials listed above.
- Choose pictures for the schedule you wish to create. Create them using a computer or real life objects (depending on the stage your child is at).
- Cut pictures and pieces of Bristol board the same size
- Glue the pictures on Bristol board squares or simply laminate for durability.
- Velcro pieces of Velcro on the back of every picture. Be sure to use the same type of Velcro on all your pictures so the opposite type of Velcro will be on your board. If you are creating a permanent schedule then simply glue the pictures on the Bristol board strip that is created in the next step.
- Create a strip to hold the schedule. Cut out Bristol board long enough to hold all the pictures for the block of time you are creating a schedule. For example, you may be creating a schedule for an entire day or just for one routine, such as brushing your teeth.
- You may create a pocket at the bottom/end that represents “all done” for removable pictures.
- Velcro the pictures to the schedule in the order they will occur.
How to use visual schedules
Teach your child how to use the schedule by explaining and modeling how to use the pictures. As you move through the schedule you can remove the picture from the schedule, and place it in the pocket with the words “all done” on it. Keep the schedule located in a convenient place at the child’s eye level, to promote consistent use. Use the schedule as part of your daily routine.
When you first start to use the visual schedule, an adult will need to go through the schedule daily with the child. Once the child becomes comfortable with the routine they can go through the schedule on their own.
Create your own visual schedule and watch your child’s independence, self -esteem and communication blossom!
Gwen is a Communicative Disorders Assistant with more than 17 years of experience working with a diverse client base. Her experiences have provided her with the wonderful opportunity to be associated with adults suffering from brain injuries, those that have experienced a stroke, children with articulation and language difficulties and children who have a limited word repertoire.