There is much you as friends or family of a person with a voice disorder can do to help.
Here’s a video attendees at one of our support groups made to help you understand some of the challenges of voice problems and what you can do to help:
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- Avoid interrupting or talking over. It is natural to interrupt when talking to your nearest and dearest. It is important for people to understand how difficult this can be for someone with a voice problem as having to restart what one is saying or strain the voice to be heard can result in voice fatigue, pain and other problems such as breathlessness. This voice abuse can lead to a worsening of the voice problem. It is important therefore not to interrupt or speak over someone with a voice problem if at all possible. This becomes even more important in a setting where lots of people are speaking, such as a social gathering.
- Choose voice friendly venues. Background noise can cause problems for a person with a voice disorder. They have to strain their voice against noise which can be very uncomfortable and even lead to a worsening of the condition. So when you go out with someone with a voice problem, please try to choose voice friendly venues. Failure to do so may mean people with voice problems do not feel they can join you. Over time this could even lead to them feeling isolated. You can check out voice friendly venues through our guide, On The QT.
- Don’t underestimate the impact of a voice problem. Have you ever had a problem you thought was not understood? Have you ever had someone underestimate or make light of a problem that was important to you? Voice problems have a very low profile in spite of the fact that studies have shown they can have a very big impact on a person's quality of life. Just because you can’t see it or feel it yourself, doesn’t mean it isn’t very real for your friend or family member.
- Things go up as well as down. Voice disorders can vary from day to day. Sometimes symptoms such as pain or hoarseness will be better than at other times. During better periods, the person with the voice disorder may be able to do more while during worse periods, less may be possible. Try to be mindful of these fluctuations.