I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease nearly 20 years ago. Medication has been the main treatment that I have used to manage the symptoms. I have also benefited from surgery, undergoing Deep Brain Stimulation. In the last few years, I have taken part in activities that have also helped me to me to manage my condition such as physiotherapy and dancing.

As time progressed, I became less able to communicate with family and friends. I began to slur my words and to speak too quickly and often too softly. People were always asking me to slow down and to repeat myself. I was also having problems with swallowing and drooling, especially during the night.

It was then that I turned to Celia Bacon for help. Celia is a Speech Therapist who specialises in helping people with Parkinson’s disease. Since attending her classes, I have noticed a great improvement in my speech. Celia runs the Loud and Clear Speech group for an hour once a month in Tubbs Hall in Kings Worthy.

The first 10 minutes are spent doing facial exercises to increase the strength of facial and oral muscles. The exercises involved the use of the tongue, the lips, and the cheeks to help with issues such as clarity of speech and controlling food and drink.

The remaining 50 minutes of class are spent reading out loud. We read limericks, poems (ranging from Kipling to Pam Ayres) and Churchill quotations.  The reader is  asked to score themselves out of 10. If scores were less than 10, readers are invited to say what they need to do to achieve a higher score, and are then invited to read it again. It could have been too soft, too monotone and in my case – too quick. Almost with exception, a higher score is reached.

I have found this part of the class very beneficial as I read poems out loud at poetry platforms, competitions, and public readings. If you are trying to manage the communication issues of Parkinson’s disease, I would highly recommend Celia to help you.

AS, Winchester

Loud and Clear- AS