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!
Please note that many in-person groups are on hold due to the pandemic. Some groups are offering a virtual option. We recommend reaching out to the moderator for more details.
California – Sacramento
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 (email@example.com)
Phone: (916) 734 – 1530
California – San 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
Meeting Location: Vibra Hospital, 8451 Pearl St., Thornton, CO 80229, Long Peak Conference Room
Tine: 5:00 – 6:30 pm.
2021 Dates: 2/12*, 5/14, 9/10, 11/12
*This meeting will be held virtually.
Delaware – Lewes
Michele Poynton-Marsh, CCC-SLP
Meeting Location: 1632 Savannah Road, Suite 5
Meeting Date: 4th Thursday of every month from 2:00-3:00pm EST
Florida – (Virtual, Open to any Florida residents)
Dysphagia Digest of Florida: Maggie Donaker, MS, CCC-SLP & Kristin Winter, M.Ed., CCC-SLP
Facebook Site: https://www.facebook.com/DysphagiaDigest/
Meeting Location: Virtual (email for details)
Dates: January 21 | February 18 | March 18 | April 22 | May 20 | June 17 | July 22 | August 19 | September 16 | October 21 | November 18 | December 16
Thursdays 6:30-8:00PM via ZOOM
Illinois – Chicago
Abigail Nellis, CCC-SLP
Meeting: Email for date/time, currently meetings are virtual and open to anyone in the United States.
Missouri – Cape Girardeau
Allison Remley, CCC-SLP
Meetings: Currently on hold
New Jersey – Princeton
Susan M. Pattay, CCC-SLP, BCS-S
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 York – Brooklyn
Sharon Beaumont-Bowman, CCC-SLP, BCS-S
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.
Oklahoma – Tulsa
Tiffany Turner, CCC-SLP & Stacy Rathbone, CCC-SLP
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
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
Texas – Houston
Christine Porsche, MS, CCC-SLP, CLT
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Please email Christine if interested in attending or for additional information. Meetings are being held monthly.
Texas – San Antonio
Alexandria Gawlik, CCC-SLP
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
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.
Washington – Seattle
Jan Pryor, CCC-SLP, BCS-S
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!
Alberta – Canada: https://head-way.org/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 – Carmel
California – Encinitas
Colorado – Fort Collins
Florida – Orlando
Kentucky – Louisville
Louisiana – Slidell
Louisiana – Youngsville
New York- Buffalo
North Carolina – Durham/Concord/Charlotte
Ohio – Cleveland
Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh
Texas – Tyler
Utah – Salt 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 email@example.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.