Caitlyn gets her voice back through speech therapy at Children’s
When a lingering disorder left Caitlyn Dreher without a voice, the teenager had no choice but to live through whispers and text messages for nearly four months.
“I’ve always been talkative in school,” she said. I’m the kind of girl that sits in the front row and raises her hand to ask questions.”
For years, Caitlyn would lose her voice every few months and wouldn’t be able to speak above a whisper. Like clockwork, her voice would return two weeks later.
One morning in November 2012, she woke up and her voice was gone again. When a month had passed without any improvement, Caitlyn and her family began looking for answers.
“Suddenly she was only able to whisper,” said Susan Dreher, Caitlyn’s mom. She had to rely on text messages. Not being able to hear her say ‘goodnight’ or ‘I love you’ was upsetting.”
Caitlyn couldn’t sing in school concerts, audition for upcoming events, or even teach dance lessons to children, another passion of hers.
Day-to-day life was more difficult. “Lunch was the worst,” she said. “While I couldn’t speak, I got kind of distant from my friends.”
After an ENT doctor referred the family to the Children’s Voice Disorder Program, Susan brought her daughter to Children’s at North Druid Hills for a voice evaluation. Tracy Herring, CCC-SLP, determined that Caitlyn had muscle tension dysphonia, a condition where the muscles around the larynx (voice box) are too tight.