Swallowing Support Groups

If you have dysphagia or are close to someone with a swallowing disorder, you don’t have to go through it alone. A support group can help. (See list of active support groups below)

Support groups bring together people facing similar issues. Members of support groups often share experiences and advice. It can be helpful getting to talk with other people who are in the same boat. While not everyone wants or needs support beyond that offered by family, friends, and their medical team, you may find it helpful to turn to others outside your immediate circle. A dysphagia support group can help you cope better and feel less isolated as you make connections with others facing similar challenges. A support group shouldn’t replace your standard medical care, but it can provide hope and be a valuable additional resource.

The National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders (NFOSD) began its first dysphagia support group in 2010. The most recent meeting consisted of 20 people included dysphagia patients, caregivers, and a few students. It was co-lead by a Jan Pryor, a skilled speech language pathologist, and Sonia Blue, the former president of the NFOSD. The meeting kicked off with a group presentations and discussion and then split into smaller breakout sessions.

Dysphagia patient feedback from the meeting included:

  • Feeling less lonely, isolated, anxious, depressed, or judged
  • Gaining a sense of empowerment and control
  • Being able to talk openly and honestly about one’s feelings
  • Getting practical advice or information about treatment and coping options
  • Comparing notes about resources, such as doctors and alternative options

In addition, feedback from caregivers was in some ways even more powerful. There was a deeper understanding of the struggles and challenges their loved ones and friends faced every hour of every day.

Based on the positive outcome of our support groups, the NFOSD has continued to make one of its major initiatives for 2015 to build out of a nationwide network of support groups. SLPs interested in beginning a support group may download a “Welcome Package” by clicking here to learn more about beginning a support group.

The following is a list of speech-language pathologists who are welcoming those with swallowing problems (along with family and friends) to join them in future support group meetings. Their email addresses are provided. If you are interested in attending a meeting or just finding out more about the group, please contact the group leader directly. There is no fee to attend a support group.

While our list of active support groups continues to grow, we recognize these groups cover only a small population of the country and the world. To respond to this, the NFOSD has launched two interactive online support group using Facebook. One group is designed for adults with dysphagia and the other is for parents and caregivers of children with feeding and swallowing disorders. These groups are designed to be a way to easily share your stories, resources, questions, answers, and support with others. We invite you to join us!

Adult Online Swallowing Support Group

Pediatric Online Swallowing Support Group

Click Here to See a List of Support Group Topics


Lisa Evangelista, CScD, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

Meeting Location: University of California, Davis Medical Center, Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery 2521 Stockton Blvd 7th Floor Conference Room, Sacramento, CA 95817

Inaugural Meeting: March 26th, 2020 at 4-6pm

Please RSVP to Jennifer Mount (jjmount@ucdavis.edu)

Phone: (916) 734 – 1530

CaliforniaSan Diego

Liza Blumenfeld, CCC-SLP, BCS-S


Phone: (858) 626-5059

Meeting Location: TBD

Next meeting is scheduled; email Liza for the date and time

Colorado – Denver

Katia Bruno, MEd, CCC-SLP

Shannon Heinrich, MS, CCC-SLP

Beth DalSanto, MSP, CCC-SLP

Email: brunoekaterina@yahoo.com

Meeting Location: Vibra Hospital, 8451 Pearl St., Thornton, CO 80229, Long Peak Conference Room

Meetings are scheduled quarterly on Fridays 5:00 – 6:30 pm. Please arrive 10 minutes early.

2020 Dates: 2/21/20, 5/15/20, 9/18/20, 12/11/20

Delaware – Lewes

Michele Poynton-Marsh, CCC-SLP

Email: voice@mpmspeech.com

Phone: 302-644-1220

Meeting Location: 1632 Savannah Road, Suite 5

Lewes, DE

Meeting Date: 4th Thursday of every month from 2:00-3:00pm EST

Florida – Sarasota

Dysphagia Digest of Sarasota, Maggie Donaker, CCC-SLP

Email: DysphagiaDigestofSarasota@gmail.com

Meeting Location: First Presbyterian Church 2050 Oak Street Sarasota FL 34239

Sarasota, FL

Meeting Dates for 2020: Feb 13, April 23, May 14, June 18, July 16, August 13 September 17, October 15, November 12, December 17 (6:30-8pm EST)

MissouriCape   Girardeau

Allison Remley, CCC-SLP

Email: Allison_Remley@lcca.com

Phone: 573-335-2086 Ext 38

Meeting location: Life Care Centers of America at Cape Girardeau

365 S. Broadview; Cape Girardeau, MO  63701

Next meeting to be scheduled; email Allison for the date and time and to confirm location

New Jersey – Princeton

Susan M. Pattay, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

Email: susan.pattay@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Meeting location: Princeton Medical Center in the Edward and Marie Matthews Center for Care- Conference Room

One Plainsboro Road, Plainsboro, NJ 08536

Meetings will be held on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, 12:00-3:30 pm EST

Registration preferred. Walk-ins welcome.

New YorkBrooklyn

Sharon Beaumont-Bowman, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

Phone: 718-951-5186

Email: sharonb@brooklyn.cuny.edu

Pediatric-Parents Meeting Location:

Challenge Early Intervention Center

649 39th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11232

Phone (718) 851-3300.

Meets third Monday of each month from 9:30 to 11:30 AM. Attendees need to confirm meeting date and time with Sharon as this could change.

Adult meeting location: Brooklyn College

2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11210

Meetings are held quarterly; Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer. Please email to attend and be put on the mailing list.

New YorkRye (Currently Inactive)

Kathy Kennard-MacKenzie, CCC-SLP

Email: kkmackenzie@theosborn.org

Direct phone: (914) 925-8274

The Osborn

101 Theall Rd, Rye, NY 10580

Meeting Location: The Osborn Senior Living (Note, the Osborn has generously provided this meeting space, patients and caregivers do not need to be affiliated (past or current) with the Osborn to attend this swallowing support group meeting.)

Schedule: 8 times a year on the first Tuesday of the month from 4:00-5:30 pm from Sept to December, February to May. Please contact Kathy Kennard-MacKenzie (above) to register.

The Osborn website: http://www.theosborn.org/

Oklahoma – Tulsa

Tiffany Turner, CCC-SLP & Stacy Rathbone, CCC-SLP

Email: therapy@tulsasnr.com

Phone: (918) 928-4700

The Center – Classroom 1

815 S. Utica Ave.

Tulsa, OK 74104

Meets semi-annually; contact Tiffany Turner for meeting information

Oregon – Eugene

Samantha Shune, PhD, CCC-SLP

Email: sshune@uoregon.edu

Phone: (541) 346-7494

1655 Alder Street (17th and Alder)

HEDCO Education Building (room to be announced)

Eugene, OR 97403

We meet every other month. Please contact Samantha for future meeting dates and times or for more information


Christine Porsche, MS, CCC-SLP, CLT

Email: ceporsch@mdanderson.org

Phone: 713-745-5846

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Please email Christine if interested in attending or for additional information. Meetings are being held monthly.


TexasSan Antonio

Alexandria Gawlik, CCC-SLP

Email: Alexandria.e.gawlik.civ@mail.mil

Phone: 210-539-7262

UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry, Speech Pathology Classroom

7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, Texas 78229

Schedule – TBD. Please email for details.

Virginia – Harrisonburg and Shenandoah Valley

Christy Ludlow, PhD, CCC-SLP & Erin Kamarunas, PhD, CCC-SLP

Email: kamaruee@jmu.edu

Phone: 540-564-7200

RMH Healthcare; Conference Room 1

2010 Health Campus Drive

Harrisonburg, VA 22801

Meetings are a collaborative effort between RMH Healthcare and James Madison University. They are scheduled for every other month on the second Wednesday of the month from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM. Please call the number above for the date of the next meeting and to register to attend.

RMH Healthcare

Washington – Seattle

Jan Pryor, CCC-SLP, BCS-S


Phone: 619-339-5491

UWMC Otolaryngology Clinic; 3rd Floor Waiting Room

1959 NE Pacific Street

Seattle, WA 98195

Meetings are held quarterly; Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer. Please email or call to attend and be put on the mailing list!


The following is a list of locations where speech language pathologists (SLPs) have expressed an interest in starting a support group. If you live near one of these areas and are interested in attending a support group, you can email us at info@nfosd.com with your name, contact information, and location. We’ll pass this information onto the SLPs. When the SLP is ready to begin their support group, they will reach out to you with additional information.


California – Encinitas


ColoradoFort Collins

Florida – Orlando

Kentucky – Louisville



Ohio – Cleveland

New York- Buffalo

Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh

Texas – Tyler

UtahSalt   Lake City

Wisconsin – Madison

Regardless of your location, if you are interested in being part of a support group, send us an email with your contact information and location. We have access to a nationwide network of speech language pathologists. If enough people are located in close proximity to each other, we’ll strive to establish a support group in your area. In addition, we are experimenting internally within our foundation with conducting online video chat support groups or allowing people to join into an existing support group over the Internet.

Lastly, if you are an SLP with an existing support group or have an interest in starting a dysphagia support group in your area, email us at info@nfosd.com. We’d like to help you get the word out through the NFOSD website, Facebook, and other social media resources. Plus, we have flyers and other materials from prior support groups which can help you get your group started.