Question for vocal instructors and medics anatomy damage
  • JesJes
    Posts: 522
    Some of you may know that I work in special education. To be precise I work with complex needs special education which means most of my students cannot talk or walk or have an extreme behavioural/physiological/psychological disorder that renders them physically and potentially severely intellectually disabled.
    Anyway this year I was given a very beautiful young man in my class who has a chromosomal abnormality which gives him sensory confusion to the point where it can render him physically disabled and unable to get past the sensory need. Unfortunately he desperately needs pressure and this can involve pinching, hitting, headbutting, and rubbing things, others and even himself. Being a 16 year old man he's quite strong. He can't help it but be quite violent.

    Anyway he has taken to grabbing me by the throat, mouth and also my face of late (it used to be by my arms or T-shirt.)
    Anyway, two weeks ago he grabbed me by the skin at the front of my throat and pulled me around 2 metres across the room before I could get someone's help to get him to let me go. This had left me with a sore throat which cleared up and very hoarse voice which I still appear to have. Considering that I use my voice so much in my church work I would really like to know if permanent damage could theoretically be done to my vocal chords from external force and if I should be talking to my doctor about this before considering doing a tonne of singing jobs. I have been hesitant to see someone because that would involve lodging a work cover report, which might have implications for the young man at my school. He's a beautiful child and I don't want to jeopardise his learning, I believe he is capable of learning to stop this behaviour, the hell he's been through is so horrific that I suppose I've been very willing to put my body on the line to try and help him but at the same time I want to know how careful I should be to avoid permanent damage if that is possible.

    I'm asking here because really I just do choral singing/directing but this requires of me to be able to do some cantoring too and end of the day I love teaching and I love singing. To have to choose between the two would be hard.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,173
    If I were you I would go to a ear nose and throat specialist immediately. You can usually find an expert on the throat/ voice if you ask around.I pray you receive what you need.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Jes, I will put you in my rosary! Please let us know how you do. God bless
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Carol
    Posts: 493
    It sounds to me as if you are in a dangerous situation! I am a teacher and I understand your compassion for this young man. However, if there is not another person close to you at all times, I believe you are at more risk than you are willing to acknowledge. As teachers we sometimes let our optimism cloud our judgement. I am praying for this young man and for you to have discernment about what you must do for the safety of all who encounter this young man. You may not be the only one who experiences this life threatening behavior. God bless you and give you wisdom!
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,209
    ... that would involve lodging a work cover report, which might have implications ...

    Jes, you are finding yourself "between a rock and a hard place" about this situation, and your compassion for this young man speaks highly of the goodness of your character. But, as Carol writes, it does indeed sound as if this might be a dangerous situation for you, and you must be very careful. I am hoping and praying that you can find a way quietly to find out what damage might have been done (or might be done in the future) to your vocal chords. If you must choose, though, it would be better to seek medical advice rather than simply to ignore it. In the meantime, use your voice as little as possible, for there surely must be some inflammation from the injury which is exacerbating the hoarseness and which needs to subside. You and the young man are in my prayers.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,196
    I hope you have an aide in the room with you who can help handle that "child." If he is 16, he is no longer physically a child. If not, I would be in the office demanding some help. You are in a situation that is dangerous.

    Yes, get your voice checked by a professional. One of the things I did while teaching was get a cordless microphone along with amplified speakers. Several companies make them for teachers, and it takes a lot of strain off your voice when you can speak normally and not have to raise your voice.
  • JesJes
    Posts: 522
    Thank you all for your concern.
    I will get it checked out. Sounds like it could be a problem til the swelling comes down.

    Yes I have an aide in the room with me but my entire class are all complex needs. In Australia, we sadly do not consider the disabled with as high regard as we should.

    @Chonak sent me a useful link too which I will check out.
    Thank you all for your suggestions (And prayers) too.

    Please pray for this boy. He has gone through trauma beyond anybody else I've known (hence why I want him to stay at this school where he is safe.) Horrors I only previously read in ffictional novels. He must learn that people are on the whole kind and caring, they are not all out to be hostile captors!
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Carol
  • Carol
    Posts: 493
    Jes, I was wondering how you made out at school today with your problem student and with your voice. I have offered up many small moments of prayer for you both in recent days.
  • jcr
    Posts: 67
    Although it is unlikely that you have permanent damage, an ENT physician should evaluate you and determine that there is no organic damage. Following a clearance by the physician, take it easy singing for a short time to allow the irritation to abate. Recommended aids are to breathe steam, maintain good hydration, and avoid vocal extremes.

    By all means, arrange to make a change in the assignment of the young man. There is more at stake here that just what has concerned you thus far. A strong grip on your throat can result in permanent damage and even fatal damage. Don't risk the damage that can occur. This young fellow need to be under the guidance of someone physically able to handle him. You're not a candidate!
  • By all means see a throat-voice specialist,
    and do not be alone with your beloved young man.
    He may be innocent of intent to do harm, but he remains, nonetheless, a danger.
    You need someone at your side who can 'handle' him when needful.
  • JesJes
    Posts: 522
    So I spoke with the principal today. Who is sending me off to get a tetanus shot, and to get a special suit to protect my arms (which is what he usually goes for.) She was very concerned about what's been happening but is also just as worried for the boy so that's a huge relief.

    My voice is back (yeah allegri... here I come!)
    I did have swelling and no damage as such but the swelling of the surrounds was restricting movement.
    The ENT I saw was actually an ENT that deals with students with special needs just like this one. She recommended I apply to get this grant for my school to get some extra help, which I've been given, yay!

    Thank you all for your advice and prayers.
    Especially the prayers for this young man.
  • Maureen
    Posts: 652
    Oh, thank the Lord. Because if you had gotten hurt any worse, or God forbid, killed, the young man would have been facing a lot worse than extra supervision, and we would have to lose you!!

    You have to take care of yourself, if you want to be able to take care of others. If you are careless of yourself, you will not have the strength to help.

    There are techniques that certain kinds of nurses learn which enable them to leverage smaller body weight and to handle difficult patients safely, sort of a medical judo. You probably need to learn this.

    But it sounds like right now, you are safer and so is the young man, and so is the rest of your class. So that is good.
    Thanked by 1Carol