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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Let Your Voice Be Heard!

                                                         RuchieB MACCCSLP

In Parshat Shemot, Moshe Rabbenu said he was "heavy 
of speech and tongue." 
Rashi says this means that he stuttered.  The Rashbam
 states that he wasn't fluent in Egyptian or their culture, after
forty years of absence .  Ibn Ezra points out that it might have 
been a a congenital disability.  Other Mefarshim say that he 
could not pronounce certain sounds and therefore he felt 
unable to speak.  Hashem replied: " Who gave man a mouth,...
 not I?  Go and I will be with you and show you what to say" (Shemot
4:11-12).  Hashem was Moshe Rabbeinu's Speech therapist. 
Hashem gave Moshe the tools that he needed.  Hashem gives 
each of us the tools that he feels is best for us and we need to use it 
in the right way.
As a speech pathologist, this is an amazing example to use. 
Everyone is unique and special in their own way.  Even Moshe
Rabbeinu, the greatest and most humble man had a speech
impedement, yet he went on to be a great man.  You should 
always strive to reach higher, even if you think that something
is holding you back.
Hashem made us different then any other living creature.  He gave 
us the power of speech.  Use your speech correctly and protect
your voice.  Here are some tips for you...

"בשלשה דברים אדם משתנה מחברו: בקול במראה ובדעת" (סנהדרין 38)    Your voice is you and you are your voice.  No one else has a voice exactly like yours. It is your key to your identity.  Isn’t it funny how sometimes by just saying “hi” on the telephone, the listener on the other end can identify you? Your voice is your trademark.  Your voice is very valuable for social interaction as well as your profession.  Are you paying attention to your voice?
What is voice? 
“Voice” is the sound made by vibration of the vocal cords caused by air passing out through the larynx bringing the cords closer together. It is important to properly care and use your voice in order to insure a healthy voice. It is not until one loses their voice that they realize how crucial speech is.

Tips on taking care of your voice:
1.    Don’t shout. Shouting causes the vocal cords to slam together, causing redness and swelling.  Try clapping your hands together hard.  When you stop, you will notice that your hands are red and painful.  That is what you are doing to your vocal cords when shouting. Try to use whistles, clap your hands or a bell to get the person’s attention instead. Try not to shout in noisy environments.  Don’t compete with a vacuum cleaner, mixer, screaming children, bands at smachot.  Try to move to a quieter place.
2.    Don’t whisper.  Believe it or not, whispering is similar to screaming.  The vocal chords hit each other, causing strain. If you are hoarse, try to speak in a regular voice as much as possible.
3.    Don’t clear your throat.  Try to sip water, swallow or suck a candy instead.
4.    Try not to talk too loudly.  If you are lecturing, try to use a microphone, or talk closer to the listener.
5.    Limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine, which tend to dry the vocal folds.
6.    Avoid eating spicy foods which can cause reflux which is stomach acid that moves up to the esophagus or throat.
7.    Try not to cradle the phone when speaking.  This could cause unnecessary muscle tension to the neck and face.
8.    Know the potential side effects of your medications.  Some medications (including hormonal medications) can cause changes in your voice.
9.    “Try” to exercise rest and eat a healthy diet.
10. Use a humidifier to keep the vocal folds hydrated and well lubricated
11. Drink, drink, drink!!!  Drinking 6-8 cups of water a day is very important.  Water hydrates the tissues around the vocal cords.
If you become worried about your voice seek professional medical help.  An otolaryngologist (ENT) can assess if there are pathological conditions.  A speech language pathologist can do voice training if indicated.
If you want your message to impact your audience, if you want to utilize your speaking voice for many years, then take care of your voice!  It is the only one that you have!

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