What is Spasmodic Dysphonia?

Spasmodic dysphonia (SD), a focal form of dystonia, is a neurological voice disorder that involves "spasms" of the vocal cords causing interruptions of speech and affecting the voice quality. SD can cause the voice to break up or to have a tight, strained, or strangled quality.

NSDA news

Meet Actor and Comedian Shane Hartline

Actor and comedian Shane Hartline has a secret. He has been living and thriving with a neurological vocal disorder called spasmodic dysphonia (SD) since he was five years old. He is developing a short film about an aspiring actress with spasmodic dysphonia and we asked him about the significance of this project and his own life experiences. More...

Read more about Shane's story and learn about his new film by downloading his story here.

New Handout on Spasmodic Dysphonia

Christie DeLuca, MS, CCC-SLP prepared a special handout in honor of World Voice Day on spasmodic dysphonia for the NSDA. She is a Speech Language Pathologist who specializes in assessment, treatment and research of voice disorders. Christie is currently working as a Clinical Voice Specialist in the Voice Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital and will be presenting at 2019 NSDA Symposium. Christie has spasmodic dysphonia herself, which gives her a unique insight into the disorder. More...

Christie is currently working as a Clinical Voice Specialist in the Voice Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital and will be presenting at 2019 NSDA Symposium. Christie has spasmodic dysphonia herself, which gives her a unique insight into the disorder. Click here to download.

Academy Award Winning Actress Lupita Nyong'o Shares Statement with the NSDA to Help Shed Light on

Prior to the release of Jordan Peele’s horror film, Us, lead actress Lupita Nyong'o shared the inspiration for the sound of the voice of Red, her doppelgänger character was inspired by the voice of Robert Kennedy, Jr. who has spasmodic dysphonia. The NSDA has been working with Ms. Nyong’o’s team and appreciates the thoughtful statement she provided to NSDA explaining her intentions of discussing spasmodic dysphonia in conjunction with the movie. More...

Statement by Ms. Nyong’o to the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association

To the Community with Spasmodic Dysphonia:

I would like to take this opportunity to expound more fully on my relationship with spasmodic dysphonia in my work as it appears in Jordan Peele's film, Us. As some of you may be aware, I play two characters, Adelaide, who many have labeled “good" and Red, who many have labeled "bad." My process as an actor leads me to find ways into the most human and real parts of every character I play, steering clear of any judgement of them as being “good" or "bad," "righteous" or "evil," "pleasant" or "creepy." In portraying the specific trauma of my character, Red, I was inspired in part by hearing Robert F Kennedy Jr speak at an event. His voice and the condition that he has, became the catalyst to my creative process and research which included other influences like laryngeal fractures, vocal cord hemorrhages and my own experience with vocal injury. As part of this exploration I spoke with a number of people who suffer from spasmodic dysphonia. I learned how difficult it is to live with the disorder and it struck me.  I am aware of the struggles and frustrations, the misunderstandings and misdiagnoses that accompany having the disorder. 

In discussing spasmodic dysphonia publicly as an inspiration, I never intended to demonize or vilify those with the disorder.  In fact, after getting to know some people with it, I hoped it would help to shed light on a difficult disorder that is not well known by the public. I am sorry to all those who may have been hurt or offended by my mention of the condition, as my intention was never to present this condition in a sinister light. 

Ultimately, Red's voice is a composite of influences and a creation of my imagination. In fact, the final voice does not sound like spasmodic dysphonia. I crafted her with care and love. I in turn extend my love to you now, in the hope that you are able to receive it and understand my motivations beyond the brief sound bites that the news may otherwise deliver to you.

With Deep Respect,
Lupita Nyong’o

The NSDA applauds all efforts to raise awareness about spasmodic dysphonia. “We thank Ms. Nyong'o for her efforts to bring attention to this rare neurological voice disorder and appreciate her intention was to help our cause. Since learning of the movie’s release, the NSDA’s goal has remained the same, to educate and raise awareness about spasmodic dysphonia and its challenges in a positive way. This has been an opportunity to expose a much larger population to the impact of this voice disorder,” shared NSDA Executive Director Kimberly Kuman. 

All this awareness has also shed light on what is really needed for people with spasmodic dysphonia  -more research for this rare voice disorder -  including determining its causes, finding better treatments, and, ultimately, a cure.

False Narrative of Condemning of Movie "Us"

The NSDA would like to clarify that in many of the recent articles, it stated that NSDA condemned the movie, Us. This is false. Our goal from the start was to acknowledge that spasmodic dysphonia was being connected to the movie, express concern about the terms being attached to the sound of the voice (from media stories) and raising awareness about its impact. More...

A media outlet used NSDA quotes out of context, tying us to another a group, and said NSDA "condemn the decision" to use this voice. This is false but many media outlets ran it. In the end, we want awareness. We want reseach. We want a cure for spasmodic dysphonia.

[News Archive]

Listen to Voice Samples

Hear audio clips of spasmodic dysphonia, and read about symptoms and treatments using the interactive device below.

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Meet Our Members
Meet Our Members

The NSDA is a grassroots organization working to improve the lives of people with spasmodic dysphonia. This shines through with our members who share their own experiences and knowledge to empower others with SD.

Our Vision

The vision of the NSDA is to ensure the ongoing viability of the organization that will continue to lead the effort to eradicate spasmodic dysphonia.
NSDA's Core Values

Our Mission

The mission of the NSDA is to advance medical research into the causes of and treatments for spasmodic dysphonia, promote physician and public awareness of the disorder, and provide support to those affected by spasmodic dysphonia.
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300 Park Boulevard, Suite 335
Itasca, Illinois 60143
Phone: 800-795-6732
Email: nsda@dysphonia.org
Fax: 630-250-4505