Noala News

Jan '22 - Voice therapy and More Than Words charity

Posted on
December 31, 2021
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🗣️ This month, we're exploring voice therapy. We've deep dive into the findings from a prospective, longitudinal study on the impact of Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT LOUD®) on voice, communication and participation. We were also lucky to chat with Tor Spence, SLT specialist in voice and upper airway disorders.

🙌 We've also met with More than words, a truly inspiring Kent-based charity helping parents to learn Makaton so that they can support their own children, among other things. 

🤩 Last, but not least, we were genuinely excited to launch Noala on December 14 and are humbled by the feedback received from our first users to date. 

Jan '22 Research Paper 🧐
This month, we focus on " The impact of Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT LOUD ®) on voice, communication, and participation: Findings from a prospective, longitudinal study ", a research paper published by Linda A. Bryans, Andrew D. Palmer, Shannon Anderson, Joshua Schindler and Donna J. Graville (full text available online here).
We were particularly interested in the following findings

  • LSVT LOUD®, an intensive 4-week program of voice therapy, promotes an increased sense of personal control over the communication difficulties resulting from Parkinson's disease by decreasing voice handicap and improving communicative participation as well as communicative effectiveness
  • After treatment, it has been observed significant improvements in vocal intensity during sustained phonation, reading and spontaneous speech, consistent with previous research. Findings also suggest that treatment gains are maintained over time
  • Last, but not least, LSVT LOUD® may reduce the risk of social isolation by improving communication and facilitating social participation

We would love to hear from you! Feel free to share your experience about using Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT LOUD ®) with the Noala community on our forum

We're delighted to introduce you to our first guest Tor Spence, SLT specialist in voice and upper airway disorders and founder of VoiceFit 🔊

Tor Spence speech and language therapist specialist in voice therapy
Tor Spence, SLT specialist in voice

Could you please tell us a bit more about yourself and how you decided to become a speech therapist?
The start of my journey into speech therapy was complete luck. I was advised to explore the idea of a speech therapy degree when I attended a career’s fair when I was 15. My dear mum found me some work experience on a stoke unit after my GCSEs and I felt unbelievably lucky to fall in love with speech therapy and a vocation at that age. I went to the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and have worked for various NHS trusts since graduating. I own a private speech therapy practise called VoiceFit which really took off during Covid when I started working online with clients. I love, love, love training and supervising other SLTs and students.

You're an expert in voice therapy. We would be curious to learn about a typical voice practice?
I’ve always been fascinated by the human voice and the science of voice – such a delicate instrument, not widely understood and vital for the communication of knowledge, thoughts and emotions. I work with adults and children with changes to their voice quality or voice loss and throat discomfort or symptoms such as persistent cough or dry, tickly throat. Voice disorders can significantly impact on quality of life. A typical and favourite part of my own practise is examining a patient’s larynx using a flexible nasendoscope to diagnose the cause of their dysphonia (abnormal voice). Voice therapy sessions may include education about voice, voice care guidance, direct voice therapy including breath and voice exercises, laryngeal manual therapy or massage, counselling and reflective practise.  

Would you have a memorable anecdote to share with us?
When I was struggling at the beginning of my career with assertiveness and managing patient expectations, I will never forget my colleague and peer asking me to come and watch what he described as ‘Big Dave’s tough love’. I’ve never forgotten the confidence and tenacity he demonstrated when communicating with the patient. He was respectful and empathetic yet kept control and managed a complex and challenging situation very professionally. 14 years later, it’s an anecdote I say to myself whenever I’m faced with a certain type of clinical challenge. ‘Tor’s tough love…what would Dave do?’

What advice would you give to your younger self about starting as a speech therapist?
Prioritise finding people who inspire you and can mentor or supervise you. There are amazing networking opportunities on social media now and many specialist SLTs who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise and help guide those starting out in their careers. Reach out to people, start up conversations and ask questions. And invest time in quite frequent structured professional supervision in your first year of working and ongoing. This is as important, if not more so in some ways than specific training courses and study days. Also have fun! Speech therapy is one of the most brilliant, varied and challenging but rewarding careers. I wouldn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t do anything else. 

Other news we've been reading 📮

🧐 Curious to learn more about dyslexia? This research shows that "children with and without dyslexia do not seem to differ in how they initially process visual information, but instead in how they make decisions about it"

✨ This video of President Joe Biden offering words of encouragement to a young girl who stutter is everything. "You know, stuttering [...] is the only handicap that people still laugh about. Don't let it define you"

💬 Project Relate is a new Android app that aims to help people with speech impairments communicate more easily with others and interact with the Google Assistant. If you have a condition that makes your speech difficult to understand, you may be able to help provide feedback as a trusted tester. If you're interested you can fill out this form

⏲️ We've asked our SLT community how much time they spend on average to prepare a session with a patient and 60% confessed that they spend on average more than 15' to prepare a session

👯‍♂️ Here is what our first users are saying about Noala...

If you're curious and want to learn more about us,
please feel free to head over our how toFAQpricing and team pages

Please welcome More than Words, a truly inspiring Kent-based charity

Hello Hannah, Helen and Paul! Could you please tell us a bit more about yourself and how you've decided to launch More than Words?

Both Hannah and I [Paul] have wanted to help people throughout our lives and when Gracie was born it was the experiences that we were going through that inspired us to found More Than words Charity. Gracie has a rare genetic disorder, and this has presented her with several difficulties. However, despite Gracie's challenges she continues to prove to medical professionals that with the right support anything was possible. One of the hurdles that we uncounted on a daily basis was that Gracie’s disorder did not ‘FIT IN A BOX’. The longer we continued on this journey we found that the services for disabled children in Kent were becoming more and more difficult to access. We knew that if these services were easily accessible to children it could make a huge difference to not only the child’s life but also the family. It was at this point over 6 years ago that More Than Words was born with the aim to help as many Kent families as possible regardless of their disability.

For me [Helen], I met Hannah & Paul through mutual friends when Gracie needed to have an operation that my eldest son had already had. Our friend put us in touch with one another to share experiences and give Han & Paul the chance to ask questions of other parents who had been in a similar situation. My eldest son Harvie was born extremely premature and at eleven years old is still non-verbal, but very competent in Makaton. I started to learn Makaton to support his communication and that journey has led me to the present day whereas a qualified Makaton Tutor I now have the complete privilege in teaching other parents to learn Makaton so that they can support their own children.

More than Words offers online Makaton workshops. Could you please explain to us what Makaton is?

Makaton is a unique language programme that uses symbols, signs and speech to enable people to communicate. It supports the development of essential communication skills such as attention and listening, comprehension, memory, recall and organisation of language and expression. With Makaton, signs are used, with speech, in spoken word order. This helps provide extra clues about what someone is saying. Using signs can help people who have no speech or whose speech is unclear. Using symbols can help people who have limited speech and those who cannot or prefer not to sign.

Would you have a funny / most memorable anecdote to share with us?

In a signed story session once, Helen was signing Julia Donaldson’s book Zog to a group of families. For the repeated line ‘zigzagged through the blue’ she was using the sign for ‘sky’ as that’s what the author meant when saying ‘blue’. A little girl piped up that Helen was doing it all wrong and took it upon herself to show the group what the sign for ‘blue’ really was! It gave an opportunity to talk to the adults about interpreting the text and not just translating words literally, but the little girl clearly thought Helen wasn’t a very good signer after that!

What advice would you give to Speech and Language Therapists working with families including disabled children?

We would say working with families including disabled children is to see what works best for that child utilising all communication methods available. To add, [Helen] I’d also say to see the child first, and their difficulty second. Every child is individual and what’s worked with one child with Down Syndrome / autism doesn’t mean you’ve got a solution that will work with every child with those conditions. 

If this resonates with you, you can get involved by taking part in their next fundraising event 🙏

Emilie Spire
CEO & Founder
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