Laryngitis is a condition caused by inflammation of the larynx or voice box, due to overuse, irritation or infection. It’s symptoms include hoarse voice or in some cases, no voice at all. This hardly seems like a welcome gift for a Speech Therapist—or anyone else, for that matter.
But as I write this, I think my voice is recovering after several days of hearing it come out weak and scratchy, painful at times for me to produce and hear. As I began treating myself for this condition, I put myself on modified vocal rest to let my larynx heal. I spoke as little as I possibly could, conserving my voice for situations where I absolutely had to speak. I e-mailed back and forth with my doctor (instead of calling his office) and typed messages to my husband and daughter.
My days were filled with silence. Silence to heal, silence to reflect. I thought of other individuals who cannot speak, whether the cause is neurologic, tragic accident, aging or severe stuttering blocks. I felt myself not just sympathizing but empathizing with my clients. I got to experience what it feels like to be voiceless.
As my voice returns, I once again am thankful that I chose to become a Speech Language Pathologist. While I am not one of the Speech Language Pathologists who specialize in Augmentive and Assistive Technology to enable those who are nonverbal or minimally verbal to communicate, I do have additional training and experience in fluency disorders and so aim to help People Who Stutter speak more clearly and confidently.
Joanne Summer, MA, CCC-SLP, a speech-language pathologist based in Morristown, NJ, has helped hundreds of children improve their speech sound production and language skills. She founded Well Spoken Speech Therapy, LLC, in 2014 after spending 12 years providing therapy to children (K-5) in the New Jersey public school system. In private practice, her clients also include younger children and adolescents. In addition, she treats people of all ages who stutter or otherwise find it difficult to speak fluently—an area in which she has received extensive specialized training.