Dawn Marie Polito
I consider it a miracle in my life, and an answer to my prayers, that I found Dr. Cooper. His methods are completely natural and non-invasive, and do not involve drugs, toxins, or surgery. I highly recommend his Direct Voice Rehabilitation, which uses simple techniques which comprise a type of physical therapy to re-train sufferers of voice disorders in the correct usage of muscles involved in speech production.
I suffered with Spasmodic Dysphonia for nearly fifteen years (although I did not know what it was or that there was a name for it); the first time I remember it being a problem was during my Valedictory address in high school. Throughout college and career, this disorder impacted every aspect of my life: professionally, as a teacher, especially talking on the public address system, and personally, especially talking on the telephone, which I had just about given up. How I learned to dread these modern technological devices, which isolated the voice as the sole transmitter of communication, thereby ensuring any problems one might have with one's voice would be highlighted and amplified! When I spoke, it felt at times like I was not getting enough air, and the sound my voice produced often had a broken quality. Invariably, it was frustrating and embarrassing to speak. People often thought I was ill or emotionally upset when I was neither. I sometimes had difficulty producing any sound at all. It was terrible to live this way.
After counseling for four years and teaching for four more years, I stopped working with people for a while (which was a difficult decision, since I consider helping people to be an integral part of my calling), to work solely on my writing, and to try to use my voice as little as possible. A friend who was a singer suggested that prolonged rest of my voice might do the trick. It didn't, and I was getting exasperated.
I recognized the obstacle to normal communication my voice had become, and prayed for a way out of this voice problem I did not understand. I had gone to ear, nose, and throat doctors, who were unbelievably unhelpful. I went to psychotherapists, tried nutritional solutions, and read many books on improving the voice; some of these were helpful in ways other than actually rehabilitating my voice, which remained as problematic as ever.
One day I was so frustrated by this crippling problem that I prayed intensely for a way out of it. I prayed like I had never prayed before, because I believed I could do nothing else to overcome this final roadblock myself. I told God that I would be willing to do whatever was asked of me to improve my voice, if I could just be shown a way past this obstacle that I was no longer willing to have in my life. It was, at that moment, so important to me, because I knew I would never be the person God made me to be if I didn't overcome this.
The very next day, I was running errands along a route I travel several times a month, when I was overcome by an internal prompting to enter a small bookstore I had never visited before. I had the overwhelming feeling that the answer to my voice problem was inside this store! As improbable as it might seem, I listened to my intuition and let it lead me into a section toward the back of the store, disregarding section displays, to a sign that simply read "Used Books". There, staring out at me, the only book facing forward on its shelf, was Dr. Cooper's book, "Stop Committing Voice Suicide". My stomach was in my throat; I could hear my heart beating in my ears. Leafing through the book, I recognized my own problem in print for the first time; my eyes landed on words that perfectly described the symptoms I had experienced, though (because doctors and therapists I had previously seen had given no name to this puzzling problem) I had never before seen evidence that there was a condition that encompassed these symptoms...it was called "Spastic or Spasmodic Dysphonia". Finding that book was one of God's saving graces in my life, a moment of liberation which began to change it forever.
After buying and reading the book, I contacted Dr. Cooper's office and began to see him on a regular basis. I was amazed to learn that the doctor to whom I was led on that fateful day, in such a mysterious way, happened to be the ONLY speech pathologist in the country reporting cures for my particular problem! He assured me that I could be helped and gave me another book to read, "Change Your Voice, Change Your Life", an excellent handbook which I immediately read cover to cover and have re-read and used for reference countless times since; it is THE definitive guide to correct voice usage, in my estimation, and I have read plenty! He also gave me some simple guidelines to follow, and employed some instruments that offered valuable immediate feedback. I began to have a new, more beneficial relationship with auditory technology; it was now my ally in healing, rather than the enemy! I was inspired by feedback from equipment in Dr. Cooper's office to use my own personal tape recorder at home, and my VCR, to enable me to approximate the new sound I was cultivating. Also helpful was meeting others in Dr. Cooper's office who had the same problem with which I previously had suffered for years, quietly believing there was something inherently wrong with me. Meeting very nice, bright people who had the same problem of voice misuse boosted my self-esteem and made me realize that I was not alone. And learning from his videotape of cures and recoveries that there were not only people out there who had the same problem (an initial revelation in itself), but that there were people who had overcome it, was absolutely the most inspiring thing of all, and singularly what helped me the most.
It took me about nine months to change patterns and habits of vocal production that had been ingrained throughout my entire adult life. To me that is amazing. I now have a sense of real accomplishment, thanks to his simple guidance: I can proudly say that I have squarely faced the most challenging obstacle in my life, a debilitating, baffling voice disorder, and obstinately refused to give up until I conquered it. Sometimes, simply having what other people take for granted (such as being able to produce a clear, efficient voice), can give one a tremendous sense of personal achievement and mastery. I am truly proud of what I've overcome: both the problem itself, and the shame because of it. I believe I will always need little course adjustments now and then on my ongoing journey of voice recovery; when I get tired, I backslide, but now I have a map to quickly guide me back on track. I have Dr. Cooper to thank for showing me the way, and Heaven above to thank for showing me the way to Dr. Cooper! I am truly grateful, because the life I'm living now is so much larger, and the voice I'm using now is music to my ears: clearer, stronger, and more natural...the way it was intended to be.
I highly recommend Dr. Cooper and his Direct Vocal Rehabilitation. It literally opened up my life, with all its rewarding possibilities, and it can do the same for others, for whom I wish the sweet sound of success.
DAWN MARIE POLITO