I am officially excited about ASHA 12. (Not that I haven’t been since last year in San Diego). I hope to meet many of my readers, Facebook and Twitter friends at ASHA in Atlanta this year. I figured it’s that time of year that I should post a little bit about my recommendations in preparation for ASHA.
- If you don’t already have one, create a Twitter and Facebook account. Join SLP groups and on Twitter, find the #Slpeeps. I am @apujo5 on Twitter. Benefits of social networking for the ASHA convention? You get all the heads-up on the behind-the-scenes info. You meet great new friends so that you don’t have to be at the conference alone. You can also find someone to share a room and save a little money. There is a “tweet-up” on Friday at 5 pm in the Leader Lounge where you can meet the people behind the Twitter handles. This year we are having a “pre-conference” dinner and there are several that met up last year staying in the same hotel.
- Pack comfortable clothes and shoes. Yes, as professionals we often dress nicely, but trust me, you will appreciate the Nikes and jeans. Last year I was away from my hotel room from 7 a.m. until about 11 p.m. I was EXHAUSTED and just missing my comfy clothes. You can learn new information whether you are in a dress or in a pair of jeans! (Besides, if this is your first convention, the exhibit hall is ENORMOUS!)
- Bring a backpack. I personally am not a huge fan of the infamous Super Duper bags. Not only do they stink, they are not all that comfortable to haul around. There are so many freebies at ASHA, you definitely need something supportive to carry your stuff. If your backpack is big enough, you can stuff a Super Duper bag into it.
- Bring your phone, tablet and your charging cords. No matter how great your battery is, you will more than likely need to charge it at some point during the day. Especially if you are one of those #Slpeeps who tweet throughout the entire convention. There are also chargers you can bring for your phone that you don’t have to plug in during a session. Last year I purchased the iGo Green charger. You plug it in to charge overnight and can use it to charge up to two devices while it’s charging. While you’re sitting in a course, you can plug in your phone (doesn’t have to be an iPhone) and charge it from anywhere in a room. No mad dash for a seat close to an outlet needed. Also, by bringing a tablet, you eliminate the need to haul around pens and notebooks.
- The scheduler for ASHA is finally up! So many people are so overwhelmed by the seeming millions of available sessions to attend. I am a very visual person, so I have to do everything a little different for scheduling. I have to make my own calendar, then highlight all the sessions I want to attend and put the session number on the calendar. I then narrow my sessions down to two per time slot. Be sure you select some alternate courses as there are times you get to the convention and some of the courses/posters have been cancelled.
- It’s never too early to start packing. The more you plan what you need to take, the more prepared you will be! I personally do much better if I pack early because I will inevitably remember things I need to take later on. Also, the more room you can make in your bag the better. (Remember, the exhibit hall is ENORMOUS and full of wonderful FREE items. You can also purchase many items at a discounted rate!)
- Make sure you sign up for all the freebies. The opening party, awards ceremony and closing party are actually a lot of fun. Better yet, they’re also free! You are already spending all that money on registration anyway. The conference also offers a box lunch for a small price (I think $7 a day). It really beats having to fight crowds at restaurants and all the waiting (giving you more time at the exhibit hall). The boxed lunches are pretty decent and quite affordable.
- Prepare to have FUN. The ASHA convention is a blast. It takes forever for it to come around every year, but once it starts, the time flies. There is so much to do and so many people to meet. Prepare for one of the greatest convention experiences of your life!
- Don’t forget, leave some time for socializing and the exhibit hall. You won’t regret it. There is an enormous amount of knowledge to learn from all the exhibitors. (Did I mention that many give away free items?)
- If you really can’t find a session you want to attend during a certain time period, you can always do poster sessions. Remember you can do six posters for every 90 minute time slot!
- Also, I have found the greatest app. If you are attending ASHA with friends, and split up, download Voxer. It turns your phone into a walkietalkie and is available for both the iPhone and Android phones.
For first-timers, the ASHA convention can be very overwhelming, but in the end is definitely worth the exhaustion!
(Tiffani is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers. These three bloggers were selected to blog about the ASHA Convention in exchange for complimentary registration. Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)
Tiffani Wallace, CCC-SLP, has been an SLP specializing in Dysphagia for over 11 years. Tiffani has been very active in the social media world, creating two Facebook groups, Dysphagia Therapy Group and Dysphagia Therapy Group-Professional Edition. Tiffani is also the co-author of the app Dysphagia2Go, available on iTunes. She is preparing to travel nationally and speak on the topic of Dysphagia. Tiffani writes a blog called Dysphagia Ramblings and is the author of www.dysphagiaramblings.com. She is a five time ACE awardee and recently obtained her BRS-S.