When  Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)  provide  families  with  either  generic  communication strategies or strategies that do not fit the individualized needs of their  families, we may inadvertently  be increasing the burden on families. There is a need for systematic, evidence-based, family-centered  interventions that include, but go beyond, current  speech-focused  interventions that meet the shared  communication needs of PwPD and their families. (1)

The statement above is the conclusion of Speech-Language Pathology researcher Carolyn Baylor and her colleagues at University of Washington Seattle, in their publication: “Take Us Into Account”: Perspectives of Family Members of People With Parkinson’s Disease Regarding Speech-Language Pathology Intervention.

Early referral to Speech-Language Pathology for any patient experiencing difficulty communicating is essential, and in fact the assessment and clinical diagnosis offered by an experienced SLP can often assist the referring physician in establishing a differential diagnoses. Too often in my own practice, I have seen patients who report to me that they have been experiencing communication difficulties for up to a year,  have been sent for every test imaginable, and only when they are finally evaluated by me, a speech-language pathologist, is the diagnosis of ALS, Primary Progressive Aphasia, or other neurogenic communication disorder identified.

Even patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease may exhibit different motor speech symptoms that help in distinguishing Idiopathic Parkinson’s from an Atypical PD diagnosis such as PSP and MSA.

Speech therapy interventions are important in helping patients improve or maintain communication abilities for as long as possible, but, NEVER am I only treating the patient, And NEVER, are two patients always the same.

Therefore, speech therapy interventions need to be patient specific, as there is NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL. A patient with Parkinson’s disease for example may elect to enroll in a behavioral intervention such as LSVT LOUD or Speak OUT! speech therapy, another may elect to pursue a device intervention such as SpeechVive which may provide more immediate improvement in symptoms and hence, be preferable to a YOPD patient still working, or a more appropriate option for a patient who has previously undergone speech therapy but is not able to retain improvements without external cueing. 

In addition. there is always a spouse, an adult child, a friend, or some other caregiver or partner that is also experiencing the effects of the communication impairment. The primary care partner may be taking on many new roles in the home including the role of communicator. Difficulty communicating between loved ones can add another layer of loss, on top of the many other changes that may be occuring in the relationship due to the disability of their partner or family member.

If you or someone you know has difficulty communicating due to Parkinson’s or related diagnosis, Spasmodic Dysphonia, following Head and Neck Cancer Treatment, please consider participating in the survey below. It is only in understanding the experiences of persons with communication impairments that we can better know how to best serve them

Opportunity to participate in research from home – anywhere in the US

Do you or a family member have difficulty speaking due to Parkinson’s disease, Spasmodic Dysphonia or Head and Neck cancer? Please participate in a Communication Survey. NO TRAVEL. Complete the survey from home. Your participation will help healthcare providers support others with communication disorders and the important people in their lives to stay connected through communication. This is an online survey study that will take about 30 minutes. We can also mail a paper survey upon request. This survey is open to anyone living in the U.S.

Each participant will be mailed $25 upon survey completion. Visit: https://sites.uw.edu/speaclab/staying-connected-study/

[1] “Take Us Into Account”: Perspectives of Family Members of People with Parkinson’s Disease Regarding Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) Interventions. Carolyn Baylor, J. Cook, and Megan J McAuliffe. https://doi.org/10.1044/2023_AJSLP-23-0027 American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology • 1–20 • Copyright © 2023 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Can You Hear Me Now?

The Hi-Volt® is a calibrated, voice-activated feedback tool that may help some patients perform speech and voice practice more efficiently on their own and help them feel the effort they need to use to generate a loud enough voice and obtain some strengthening effect and endurance for everyday conversation.

Frequently, it is introduced during speech therapy treatment, with a single cue: “speak loud enough to activate the light.” At home individuals can use the Hi-VOLT® during their speech practice, and, because the light is housed within a bracelet, they can also use it during physical therapy as an external cue for loudness when counting exercise reps.

Individuals with age related voice changes can also benefit from use of  the Hi-Volt® when performing vocal function exercises on their own or when participating in PhoRTE (Phonation Resistance Exercise) while enrolled in voice treatment. Please visit our website to order: https://voiceaerobicsdvd.com/



My Mission: To enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate  and empower. Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP * FiTOUR® Group Exercise Instructor * Voice Aerobics® A Whole Body Approach to Voice Practice

Voice Aerobics the heART and Science of Voice Practice