“I was running out of air," - Rare vocal disorder forces award-winning radio reporter off-air

You might not recognize Peter Haskell's face, but you most likely recognize his voice.  For nearly 30 years, Peter was a highly respected Journalist reporting for WCBS NewsRadio 880, but one day, he started having difficulty speaking.  

"I was running out of air," Haskell told Fox 5 NY.

His condition progressively worsened, and it could even be heard in his radio reports. 

Finally, Peter was diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, a rare vocal disorder that makes speaking difficult.

"This is a neurological condition," Haskell said. "So the signal from the brain to the muscle that controls the vocal cords is off and so sometimes trying to make certain sounds is just difficult to do."

Spasmodic dysphonia works in two different ways.  It can either compress the vocal cords or pull them apart making it difficult to talk.

As a result, Peter recently had to retire and give up a career he loved.

However, now he is devoting his attention to helping the nonprofit organization Dysphonia International to make the public aware of the condition.

The nonprofit says nearly one in 10 Americans have a vocal disorder, and Peter's rare condition affects about 70,000 Americans.

"It used to be thought that it affected people later in life," said Kimberly Kuman, Executive Director of Dysphonia International. "Now we're seeing people between 20 and 30 being diagnosed."

Peter is currently being treated for his condition with botox injections into the muscle that controls the vocal cords. And while he says he might have trouble speaking, he hasn't lost his voice. 

Haskell is hoping his story can encourage others who are experiencing the same confusion and uncertainty he once did.  

"Keep speaking to people til someone says I'm gonna help you because there are people out there who can help," Haskell said. 

This coming Sunday, April 16, is World Voice Day. If you're having voice issues, you can contact Dysphonia International at Dysphonia.org.