Speech Therapy: Without a Voice

Here in Central Texas, the pollen and cedar are causing misery in my world. Yes, it's only February. But take a look at how tall and green my grass already is! Add windy days to a very mild winter, and there are all kinds of allergens blowing around. I've been taking my Flonase, but it's not doing a whole lot right now.

Last Thursday, I started sounding a little hoarse. By Friday, it was noticeable to others. After I saw students, I put myself on vocal rest as best I could. On Saturday, I spent a large part of the windy afternoon outside silently watching my son's baseball game.  On Sunday, I restricted myself to even less talking and rested quite a bit. Monday was an in-service day, so I didn't have to talk that much.

On Tuesday morning, I could not talk. As an SLP, I know I should be on complete vocal rest. But I took off 2 1/2 months of medical leave in the fall. The thought of adding more make-up times to the schedule is daunting. If I took the day off, I would be even farther behind. Besides, I don't really feel bad. I just sound bad.

I found this study that says that whispering can be okay if it's done without tension. So, I tried it and got some interesting results. First, almost all of my students whispered back to me. Second, my co-workers reminded me that "the speech therapist" would be telling them to go home and not talk. At outside morning duty, I smiled and waved as my co-worker, a 1st-grade teacher, explained the situation to anyone who looked confused that I wasn't verbalizing greetings. Third, I realized talking is a lot like baseball. The coaches teach players at a young age that a thrown ball is faster than a runner. Talking is faster than writing or gesturing or mouthing words.

What do you do when you're an SLP and you can't take your own advice? When it's difficult to take off work? When the HEB cashier thinks you're rude because you can't answer "Did you find everything okay?" in a normal voice, and he's scanning and not looking at you to know you answered by nodding? When you're driving and want to talk to your kids?

I feel a little vulnerable posting this, so be kind with comments and suggestions. I just wanted to say that I now realize how easy it is to preach vocal rest but how much harder it is to put into practice.

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