Quotable from ASHA Convention

 

view from San  Diego Marriott

Photo by Kim Lewis

My notebook is brimming with hastily scrawled notes and printed handouts.  I have presentations downloaded on my computer and a convention program loaded with descriptions of speech and language topics.

Much of my information relates to preschool or school aged children and a great deal of that pertains to reading issue (though I did dabble in other areas as well).  But I collected a few great quotes in San Diego.  Good reminders of what we do, how and why we do it.

“It’s not about the tool, it’s about the technique.” (session 1370)

This really resonated with me.  I love my iPad and I use it with regularity in my therapy sessions.  But I’ve heard numerous therapists say that parents have been pressing the device into their hands with the insistence that it be used to perform miracles.  Well, it’s pretty fabulous, I’ll agree, but it isn’t all that and as long as human beings remain social creatures there will always be a need for personal interaction.  So, yes, I will use technology but in therapy it will always be a tool I use and not the treatment itself.

“Availability, Affability, Ability and Accountability” (session 0416)

I attended a session on growing and maintaining a private practice that promoted these “Four As” as a basis.  The beauty of this though is that it really pertains to any therapist in any setting that strives for excellence in care.  Be fully present during treatment times and available to your clients and families.  Be friendly and easy to get along with.  Continue to further your learning and incorporate new ideas and research into practice.  Take responsibility for your actions (and document it while you’re at it).

“I can pick and choose which circuits I want to run.” (Opening session)

Each day we make conscious decision in our attitude.  Each day we have an opportunity to grow.  I imagine our brains as a dense forest.  We strike out and, with much effort, create a path.  And each day that we travel that path, the underbrush becomes more downtrodden, the space between the trees widens and the path becomes easier and more visible.  You make a decision each day where those strong paths run to.

“Enjoy the good life.” (San Diego Food and Wine Festival)

Ok, so this isn’t from the convention itself, but it was part of my ASHA experience.  And don’t we aim for this already?  Furthering our education, mingling with like-minded souls, helping others.  Absolutely, the good life.

enjoy the good life sign

Photo by Kim Lewis

(Kim is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers! Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

 

Kim Lewis M.Ed, CCC-SLP has a private practice for pediatrics in Greensboro, NC. She is the blogger at www.activitytailor.com, providing creative ideas for speech therapy, and the author of the Artic Attack workbook series.

 

 

Get involved! Why? Because I say so!

I’ve been struggling to write my last post about the 2011 ASHA Convention. What could I possibly have to say that would sum up my experience? Should I be funny? Light hearted? Should I try to send a message? Reach out?

ALL OF THE ABOVE?

That’s the one!

I discovered something about myself while I was at the ASHA Convention. I really like the administrative side of things. It’s been sneaking up on me – an interest in policies, positions, procedures, politics (whew – what an alliteration!) But there it is. Can’t be denied. I just really enjoy knowing what is going on, how it affects me, how it affects my clients – and you’d think this would be the case with everyone.

However, I discovered something else at ASHA as well – a sort of apathetic, passive, bystander effect among CSD professionals when it comes to legislative and regulatory issues. Obviously this isn’t necessarily the rule, and I truly hope it is the exception. But there seems to be this sense that issues which go outside of our clients and our place of business, go beyond us overall.

I attended a lecture entitled Advocacy 101: Add Your Voice, which was presented by ASHA’s Government Relations and Public Policy Board (Regina Grimmett and Shelley Victor.) The description was as follows:

  • This session is proposed by the Governmental Relations Public Policy Board (GRPP) to promote advocacy as related to legislative, regulatory, and other public policy activities affecting the professions. Presenters will explain strategies for self-advocacy, illustrate data use for advocating issues, and demonstrate strategies for meeting legislators/government officials.

After the lecture, learners would be able to:

  • describe their role in professional grassroots advocacy at the local, state, and/or national levels.
  • define advocacy–its goals, types, and benefits of grassroots advocacy efforts
  • advocate for specific federal and/or state issues that affect the professions of speech-language pathology and audiology.

To me, this sounds like pretty important stuff. At the undergraduate and graduate level we are taught that advocacy is within our scope and is our responsibility. Usually we think of that in terms of advocacy for our clients, but this was quite obviously in regards to US. We like our jobs, yes? We like funding and support, yes?

There were probably 15 people present at this lecture. 10,000+ attendees at the ASHA Convention. Fifteen people who wanted to learn more about how to protect our jobs, advocate for ourselves, and interact with people who can make or break us.

Now, I get it. We go to ASHA to learn how to best support our clients (oh, and to see our best CSD buddies). Holding the client paramount – this is our duty. But how can we hold our clients paramount if we don’t have the IDEA/ESEA/Medicare/Medicaid funding to do it? How can we hold our clients paramount when our professions are being threatened by a poor economy and an administration that doesn’t acknowledge our existence? How can we hold our clients paramount when our credentials aren’t universally recognized as a benchmark for licensing and other professional standards? This presentation was two hours. Two hours out of your three day ASHA schedule could have been dedicated to learning how to stand up for yourself and your colleagues.

We have to help ourselves, to help our clients (kind of that whole “Put your oxygen mask on first” thing.) And I would guess that 15 people can’t do it all. We cannot continue to assume that someone else will get to it. We cannot continue to run our professional lives with a “want something done – give it to a busy person” philosophy. We are ALL busy but, we are ALL accountable.

Want to know more about advocacy, for you and your clients? Contact ASHA-PAC. Contact your state association. Go to the ASHA website.  Contact your SEAL.  Contact your State Liaison. Become a Grassroots Captain. Start early by encouraging students, interns, CFs, and newbies to get involved! There are a million resources and you can get to them while you sit in your office chair.

Listen, I’m not saying run for president or Occupy ASHA – just don’t stand by. Do what you can, or at the least support people who are trying. While you’re thinking that someone else may do it, someone else may be thinking that YOU will do it.

I loved every second of the ASHA Convention, and I hope when I attend in the future that I see more presentations about government relations – and I hope to see more of you there.

NP: The Zombies – Time of the Season

 

(Samantha is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers! Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

 

Samantha Weatherford, B.A., is a second-year, speech-language pathology graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.  She writes about speech-path and grad school on her blog, so to Speak. Does she think it is a coincidence that the first ever ASHA Convention was in St. Louis, MO, her beautiful hometown, and she chose to be an SLP? NOPE. FATE.

My nugget of ASHAcon knowledge

Friday was my first day of the ASHA Convention. For reasons I can’t remember, getting to ASHAcon on Friday rather than Thursday seemed work better for scheduling. I was wrong and missed out on a lot of great courses. I also missed out on a few meet-ups of those in the SLP blogosphere and Twitterverse. A learned lesson and a tip for future ASHAcon newbies: if you’re going to make the most of your ASHAcon experience (and the hard earned money you spend to get here!), get here on here on the opening day. The regret, it burns!

At any rate, I’m digressing from what I wanted to share with all of you good SLP folks. If you’ve ever thought about going to a short course, but have wavered because the cost (or the three hour, no break commitment), I’m telling you to reconsider. Short courses, if you’re not familiar, are ticketed courses on specific topics, many of which are put together by ASHA’s Special Interest Groups. The courses are presented by an array of panelists, usually those who have gained celebrity status among the ranks of their professional colleagues and humble followers. The partnership between such presenters and researchers provides an enormous wealth of knowledge to attendees in a way that is easy to follow along and digest. Among the seminars that I attended, the short course was a highlight of mine.

The short course I attended was Exercise Principles: How Much, How Often, How Intense? I believe that because there is a relatively small amount of course work on dysphagia in our professional training, many clinicians feel that there are gaps in our translational knowledge, that is the link between the science and our clinical practice. This sentiment may not be true for everybody, but I certainly feel this way at times. For example, what happens to our muscles when they are worked during exercise? How, on biological level, do muscles become stronger (or weaker)? What type of muscle do we use during swallowing, and will that influence that type of exercise we tell our patients to do? These are the types of questions that any of need to answer once we are already practicing and it exactly these types of questions that were answered by some of the biggest names in swallowing research: Dr. Lori Burkhead, Dr. Cathy Lazarus, Dr. Heather Clark and Dr. Michelle Troche. All of these presenters spoke at ease with the audience, with an authority gained by their years of experience and research, and it couldn’t have been a more informative and humbling presentation.

Because I’m a dork and believe in open-source knowledge in science, I want to share with you some of what I learned. First, some basic info on muscle anatomy. The basic unit of a muscle is a myofibril, which are essentially strands of proteins. Myofibrils are made up of repeating pieces of sarcomeres, which are also strands of protein. When the motor neuron releases acetylcholine and it binds to the muscle cell receptors, the sarcomere contracts, which causes the myofibrils to contract and in turn the muscle at large also contracts.

myofibril

(Source. 1. Motor neuron. 2. Neuromuscular junction. 3. Muscle fiber. 4. Myofibril)

To strengthen a muscle, additional myofibrils must be built. In addition to this, there are two types of muscle:

  • Type I; these are fatigue resistant and are good for endurance
  • Type II; these are used for power and strength. This can be broke down into Type IIa and Type IIb, for moderate activity/efficiency and for high power/less efficient activity, respectively.

So why is this important to know for dysphagia rehab? Because form follows function. In large, the tongue is made up of Type II muscle fibers, with the base of the tongue predominantly made of Type II and the tongue tip having more Type I than any other part of the tongue. When a muscle deconditions, neural activation, motor neurons and efficiency are reduced, which translates to atrophy and easily fatigued muscles. Another important factor of deconditioning is the phenomena of sarcophenia, age related decline of muscle fibers. As it is, this largely affects Type II fibers, which we know is predominant in the tongue. Swallowing, we have a problem.

It can be argued, they said, that when a person becomes npo, this deconditioning occurs because swallowing frequency declines, which in turn exacerbates dysphagia. I think this is a valid working theory. Then the question becomes ‘how do we reverse this trend? The answer: by conditioning muscles. This almost exactly the opposite of deconditioning, by increasing neural activation and the number of motor neurons. And do this, exercise must be a component of treatment, and exercise must have some distinct characteristics.

First, exercise must be specific, meaning it should mimic what actually happens during the swallowing. Citing some examples from exercise physiology as an analogy, people who want to improve in cycling will bike as exercise, and these people will not see any improvement in other sports, like running or swimming. Intensity also matters, in fact, there are some rather specific guidelines for this. To build those myofibrils, ate muscle needs to be overloaded during an exercise, at at least 60% of the maximum output of that muscle. To prevent plateau, it’s important to recognize gains and new maximum output after exercise to maintain that 60% mark.

They also cited numerous studies highlighting specific exercise effects for the tongue with some novel findings. Exercising the tongue against resistance in a variety of directions (protrusion, elevation and lateralization) yielded stronger forces, no surprise there. But they also found that exercising the tongue in a single direction improved strength for tongue movements in all directions. To me, this seemed to deviate slightly from the specificity principle. However, in studying exercise conditions, they found specific effects for targeting strength, power and endurance of the tongue, all of which were mutually exclusive (i.e., targeting strength did not improve power).

A little more murky was the research regarding duration of exercise. Should exercise be done two times a week? Seven days a week? There seemed to be positive effects from anywhere between 2 and 7 days a week for at least 4 weeks or more. Though, no clear picture was really made on this point, other than exercising more often than not is important.

This was essentially the meat of the course. There was a lot more than this, of course, and I could write a much longer post than this if I wanted. The panel also discussed changes to tissues and muscles following radiation therapy for head and neck cancer, the importance of pre- and post-dypsphagia exercise and the time frame of when to expect improved muscle and swallow function. There was also talk on the use of expiratory muscle strength training (EMST) and its application to swallowing function. I was only vaguely aware of EMST in general, which is the use of a device into one blows against resistance to improve muscle respiratory muscle strength. As it happens, use of EMST also promotes soft palate and laryngeal elevation and base of tongue retraction-all things that happen during swallowing. Needless to say, I’ll be following research on this a little more closely in the future.

This short course was exactly what I look for when attending a seminar. It had knowledgable presenters who engaged the audience, it covered basic scientific concepts and in turn used that science to garner translational knowledge to bridge that gap between the lab and the clinic. Did anyone else attend this course? Please add anything you thought I didn’t cover, or something that I didn’t make more clear. Did you attend another short course, or another seminar that blew your mind? Let us know here. Drop the name of seminar, the presenter and what you took away presentation.

 

(Adam is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers! Stay tuned for more insights from him and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

Adam Slota M.A., CCC-SLP is a speech pathologist working in long term care and long term acute care settings, primarily with tracheostomy and ventilator dependent patients. He is also the author of the blog slowdog where he writes about various topics in speech pathology and beer, among other frisky and/or mundane missives.

I Was an Exhibitionist

The perks of a big state or national convention are many.  It’s a chance for intensive learning, an opportunity to chat with colleagues, a time to check cues off the list.  But let’s face it—you love the exhibit hall.  The freebies, the salespeople (be honest, you want to be talked into the purchase), the practical inspiration for your treatment sessions.

Exhibit Hall C didn’t disappoint.  It seemed I always walked through the doors and smack into the Super Duper booth. Have you ever had this experience? It’s akin to walking in on the North Pole.  Those smiling faces of the logo are everywhere, helpful elves are pressing brightly colored bags into your hands and, oh, the toys, the games!  Don’t be alarmed if you arrive home to a large box that blew your budget.  You won’t be the first one to fall victim to ASHA intoxication.

I had to drop in on PediaStaff and see if Heidi was in the house.  And there she was!  We’ve communicated by email but not met in person and it was so nice to finally put a face to the name.  While they focus on placement of therapists in various settings (CFYs, too!), I love them for the fabulous newsletter and Pinterest board.  They’ve gained more than 5000 followers for their board in a few short months.  You need to check it out.

I also needed to swing by the SmartyEars booth and say hi to Barbara, aka GeekSLP.  I’ve met her  before at the NC Speech-Language-Hearing Association conference and if you ever have a chance to drop in on one of her sessions—take it.

Friday morning found me at the Say It Right booth promoting my books, Artic Attack and other /R/ Games and Artic Attack and other S/Z Games.  This was my first experience being an exhibitor of sorts and I loved it.  Lots of pediatric therapists coming by looking for a new technique or looking to add titles from the line they’ve already had success using.  Christine Ristuccia, Say It Right founder, was there to interact with fans and field loads of questions about her methods for incorporating yoga into speech
therapy.  How cool is that?!

I left with an order receipt I’m a little nervous to look at (though I know when I unpack the box I’ll be delighted) and an embarrassingly long wish list.  “Dear Santa, I’ve been a very good therapist this year….Love, Activity Tailor”

(Kim is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers! Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

 

Kim Lewis M.Ed, CCC-SLP has a private practice for pediatrics in Greensboro, NC. She is the blogger at www.activitytailor.com, providing creative ideas for speech therapy, and the author of the Artic Attack workbook series.

If you are younger than 80 this post is for you

“Last call for Sunday dinner. If I don’t hear from you via FB or phone by  11 AM tomorrow I’ll take that as a no.”

Direct quote: My Grandma

Source: Facebook

My Grandma, Dee, is 76 years old. She unplugs the computer when it freezes  up (Dee, seriously, stop that). She always thinks someone is hacking her  account. She doesn’t want a phone with a camera. She is one of my most favorite humans on the Earth.

And…she Facebooks. She likes, comments, posts, tags, shares, LOLs, calls my mom her “BFF” -  she is a Facebook machine. A champion of Facebook, if you will.

76. Facebook. SEVENTY-SIX.

When ASHA-goers (who are younger than 76) have seen my “I Tweet” sticker it  has induced reactions of:

  • Camaraderie: “You tweet? Me too! What’s your handle?”
  • Judgment: “Oh. You tweet. (accompanied by ‘the face’)”
  • Awe: “You tweet? Coooool!”
  • Confusion: “You tweet. Whatsa tweet? Have I been twitting and didn’t know
    it?”

But they, and you, CAN TWEET! Among other things! It is not so hard! I PROMISE.

When I got on Facebook in 2006 it was about collecting friends, like Pogs or Pokemon (gotta catch ‘em all!). Who has the most friends? Who has the most tags?  Who likes the best bands? Who has the funniest quotes? – I think it has maintained that stigma so people have generalized this time-suck to ALL social media. This is an outdated view of social media, and it ages you when you act like you’ve never heard of “the Twitter.” While social media can still be used for silly, superficial functions (as well as being used to majorly creep on people), it and other sites, can be used for so much more.

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus, Hipster-Underground-Sites, blogs, ASHACommunity. These sites are used to facilitate sharing, educating, learning, AND (you CSD professionals should like this one!) COMMUNICATING.

Tonight in the West Terrace, Maggie McGary helped get all the #slpeeps and #audpeeps (people who use social media to share CSD information) in one place for the annual Tweetup. We didn’t do anything earth shattering, but it just goes to show that social media is slowly, but surely, proving that it can bring people together. As a profession we support communication and interaction! We are all coo-coo for cocoa puffs over apps and AAC. So why are we so scared of other technological avenues for communicating?

With the advent of smart phones, iPads, netbooks, wifi, and goodness knows what else – using social media is easy as a touch. With one finger. THE TIP OF ONE FINGER. A LIGHT TOUCH WITH THE TIP OF ONE FINGER.

I want to challenge all of you to use social media in SOME WAY this year. Advocate. Connect with your state or national associations. Advertise. Find a common ground with a client. Get to know an #slpeep. Share an interesting link. Then maybe next year we’ll see YOU at the Tweetup!

PS – I’m at the Hostel at Fifth and Market and I had 12 minutes of Internet. I wrote this by hand. OLD SCHOOL.

PPS- I’m addicted to ASHA. I’m never leaving. I will be continuing the conference after you all leave. You’re welcome to join me.

NP: I”ll Find a Hearing Aid for Ya

(Samantha is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers! Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

 

Samantha Weatherford, B.A., is a second-year, speech-language pathology graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.  She writes about speech-path and grad school on her blog, so to Speak. Does she think it is a coincidence that the first ever ASHA Convention was in St. Louis, MO, her beautiful hometown, and she chose to be an SLP? NOPE. FATE.

 

The Energy of ASHA 2011

 

brain eye to eye

photo credit: Kip May

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor was exiting the hotel elevator I got on this morning and I did a double take.  It took only a moment to register the face and cascade of hair that matched the photo from the convention program and realize why she caused me to pause.  But after hearing her dynamic presentation at the Opening Session, I’m not sure that’s what it was at all.

Dr. Taylor is a neuroanatomist.  Obviously, she’s a brilliant, well-educated scientist.  In 1996, she suffered a stroke that robbed her of speech, memories, and her ability to read, write or walk.  Eight, I’d imagine grueling years later, she had fully regained all function.  And I mean all.  Since then she wrote My Stroke of Insight and has given numerous presentations on her experience.  I loved it.  And since she does have all the scientific credentials appropriate to her field, I can comfortably report on the more “groovy” aspects of her outlook without diminishing the message.

Energy.  When she was operating all “right brain”, she was energy looking for connections.  Gone was the analytical mind, searching for right/wrong, the linear and sequential.  She was full of the present moment and the energy that she and others brought to their space.  “Take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space” was a take-away quote (one so profound it even hangs on Oprah’s make-up mirror).

More than once she said that early on, she remained in a euphoria of “I’m alive” with no motivation to “rejoin” the judgemental, serial thinkers.  That she was either attracted or repelled by the energy of others and the only way to engage her in the hard work of rehab was to let go of urgent left brain energy to entice her into action.  Energy.  Connections.  It all boils down to interactions and relationships.

And isn’t this what we should strive for in all aspects of our lives–personal and professional?  Meeting others with compatible energy forces.  Making connections.  Interacting and establishing relationships.  Isn’t this truly the underpinnings of communication?  In many ways even more than the linguistic exchange itself?

So, I wonder, was it her energy that caused me to pause?  Her self-proclaimed attitude of, “I am the life power of all these cells”, that others respond to?  Certainly it will be an insight I ponder.

(Kim is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers! Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

 

Kim Lewis M.Ed, CCC-SLP has a private practice for pediatrics in Greensboro, NC. She is the blogger at www.activitytailor.com, providing creative ideas for speech therapy, and the author of the Artic Attack workbook series.

What are you planning at the ASHA Convention?

In about a week, I’ll be leaving the cold tundra that Chicago is about to become and heading to the temperate beaches of San Diego to, well, sit inside some conference rooms listening to the science that drives the professions of speech pathology and audiology at the 2011 ASHA Convention (ASHAcon). I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to attend ASHAcon several times in the past, but this is the first time that I’ll be blogging some of the ASHA goodies and sharing that ASHA love with you all via the interwebz, and I couldn’t be more excited to do it.

This year I’ll be looking at all things dysphagia. I want to know how exercise physiology impacts swallow function (what works and what doesn’t?), how to strengthen both bedside and instrumental evaluation of swallowing, ways to improve communication between long term care SLPs and hospital SLPs, among whole of host of dysphagia related goodness as it relates to stroke, head/neck cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Yes, these are all topics that will be discussed at ASHAcon (and more!). Plus, this year I signed up for my first short course through Special Interest Group 13, Swallowing and Swallow Disorders (Dysphagia), entitled “Exercise Principles: How Much, How Often, & How Intense?” which I’m excited to attend to keep my practice in check with supporting evidence. There are also a few golden nuggets of tracheostomy related courses out there I hope to have time to attend. If I’m real lucky, I’ll find time get a seminar or two on some aphasia topics, a substrate of speech pathology that I desperately need a refresher in.

Are you planning on attending ASHAcon? Then share with us what courses you’re looking forward to attending, or what topics you just can’t wait to learn more about here in the comments. Did you take a mind blowing course at a previous ASHAcon? Then share the wealth with us! And if you’re planning on attending some dysphagia seminars, make sure to hi. I’ll be the guy. If there’s more than one of us there, I’ll be in jeans, furiously taking notes, tweeting and blogging on an iPad (or stuffing the raffle box for a chance to win a Subaru). Whether you go to ASHAcon or not, do make sure to follow convention news and updates here at ASHAsphere or follow ASHAcon on Twitter at @ASHAconv along with the #asha11 hashtag to keep up with all the delicious speech, language, hearing and swallow science.

(Adam is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers! Stay tuned for more insights from him and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

Adam Slota M.A., CCC-SLP is a speech pathologist working in long term care and long term acute care settings, primarily with tracheostomy and ventilator dependent patients. He is also the author of the blog slowdog where he writes about various topics in speech pathology and beer, among other frisky and/or mundane missives.

Planning for ASHA Convention? Try the new Personal Scheduler

From experience in attending many ASHA conventions, I know that it’s really important to take some time to plan your time! When you arrive at the convention center, you are likely to be overwhelmed and fall down, or cause someone to fall down, as I have in the past. To prevent unnecessary injuries, ASHA has provided us with a Personal Scheduler tool that will allow you to generate a “draft” list of sessions you might like to attend.  You can print your itinerary, save it as a PDF and, for the first time, send it to a calendar app such as iCal (the Calendar on your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch- YAY!) or Outlook (*crickets chirping*).  I can’t say there isn’t room for improvement with this tool (and it still lacks some of the “social” aspects I have seen in other conference schedulers, which allow you to see which of your colleagues are going to which sessions), but these exporting features are a nice leap forward.  Check out the short video below to see how it works, and happy planning!

I also made a quick guide to how to send your itinerary to your iDevice after emailing it as shown in the video.  Again, this process isn’t perfect- I found that there was a glitch with session titles if you add two in the same time slot (you may see the title of one selection repeated, though the session descriptions are accurate). Additionally, if you are in a different time zone than the convention, you may want to wait to actually add the itinerary to the calendar until you arrive, or just be willing to do the math as you review the sessions beforehand.  Also note, once you export your itinerary, it will not sync with the Personal Scheduler, i.e. any new sessions you add on the web will NOT be in your calendar.  So, you’ll want to wait until you have given everything a thorough look before you export. See below for this guide:

If all that sounds too complicated, you can just print away or send yourself the PDF to access on your mobile device! Have fun!

(This post originally appeared on SpeechTechie)

Sean J. Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and instructional technology specialist working in the public school and in private practice at The Ely Center in Newton, Massachusetts. He consults on the topic of technology integration in speech and language and is the author of the blog SpeechTechie: Looking at Technology Through a Language Lens.

Tips for Making the Most of the ASHA Convention

 

This year is the 75th Annual American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention.

There will be 12,000+ people there. 300+ exhibits. 1000+ poster presentations.  700+ oral seminars. 32 short courses. Don’t forget about the First Timers’ Orientation, the Awards Ceremony, and NSSLHA Day Events! Oh and breathing and eating and sleeping!

…I’m feeling a smidge overwhelmed.

Just a smidge.

So, I thought to myself, “Self, how on earth are you going to handle all this business?” And the answer was clear.

Ask other people.

Man, I love other people. Other people have so much knowledge and they can be so darn helpful. Other people are the best.

So here is what other SLPs said when I spastically asked them, “What is your favorite part of ASHA Conventions? What do you look forward to most? What tips do you have for ASHA first timers? How do I get to be like you when I grow up? Do I have anything in my teeth? What day of the week is it? Do you know my name? Because I forgot. What was I asking you again?”

Guys, grad school is rough.

Anyway,

What is your favorite part of ASHA Conventions?

  • “Probably my favorite part was going out for pizza with our professors.”
  • “I love the  Honors ceremony—for the Honors and their recipients, in particular the Annie Glenn award, being able to hear Annie or John Glenn, and the amazing recipients–James Earl Jones, Ben Vereen, Julie Andrews, Joey McIntyre to name a few!  How wonderful it has been seeing them and hearing them present to us.”
  • “Seeing old friends and colleagues–we ended up scattered all over the country.”
  • “Technical sessions and poster sessions are some of my favorites–nice to have the opportunity to hear new findings, and visit with the presenters as well.”
  • “My favorite part is definitely the Awards Ceremony.  When they show the videos of the people who are getting the Honors, I almost always cry.  Of course, given my stage of life, it’s becoming more common for them to be friends and colleagues so that makes it really special! For example, this year Marc Fey and Gloria Kellum are getting the Honors, and both of them have been important mentors to me throughout my career.”
  • “I love hearing the Fellows announced because they represent the present and future of the association.”
  • “It’s great to see the Editors’ Awards and hear about the impressive research that’s going on in our field.”

What tips do you have for first timers?

  •  “Get to the meetings early!  Sometimes the rooms fill quickly, and there will be fire code limits of how many people can be in the room.”
  • “Look at handouts before you go—it really helps you prepare for the sessions.”
  • “Wear comfortable shoes!”
  • “I wish so badly that I had really studied the lectures being offered and chosen ahead of time exactly what I wanted to go to!  I was pretty overwhelmed the first time, and that led to going to some lectures I didn’t exactly enjoy.  I also avoided some of the longer ones, just because they were long, when they might have been super interesting.”
  • “Don’t just go to what your friends go to!  It’s nice to have people to go to lectures with, but sometimes you have to branch out on your own if you want to see something interesting.”
  • “It’s okay if it gets stressful and you don’t want to sit in lectures all day for three days straight.  Take a break, take a long lunch, go shopping.  You’re in San Diego for goodness sake!”
  • “Stalk the SLP Celebrities!”

Do I have anything in my teeth? What day of the week is it? Do you know my name?

  • “Surprisingly you brushed your teeth this morning – congratulations. Today is Friday. Your name is Samantha. Have fun in San Diego.”

 

NP: Going to California – Led Zeppelin

 

(Samantha is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers! Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

 

Samantha Weatherford, B.A., is a second-year, speech-language pathology graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.  She writes about speech-path and grad school on her blog, so to Speak. Does she think it is a coincidence that the first ever ASHA Convention was in St. Louis, MO, her beautiful hometown, and she chose to be an SLP? NOPE. FATE.

I’m Packing my Bags!

[ T ] Cristóbal Toral  - Colorful Suitcases


Photo by Cea.

I love to travel.  So much so that the destination hardly matters—near, far, domestic, international.  I love it all.

I adore hotels, especially good hotels.  I like the little wrapped soaps, the feeling of clean sheets pulled really taut and don’t get me started on the wonders of room service.

And while I really enjoy the time on the road, I’m equally fond of the planning—choosing routes, destinations, sites, etc.  A couple years ago, we decided to take a two week road trip and I fully planned (and by this I mean I had typed, printed itineraries) two different trip options so the family could vote.  (Yes, I can be difficult to live with, but it’s really great to travel with me!)

So I’m very excited about attending the ASHA convention this year.  I’ve never been to San Diego (hooray!).  I’m booked at a fancy hotel (yippee!). Conventions require scrupulous reading of session topics and scheduling (whee!).

I’ll admit I approached the on-line convention scheduler with some trepidation.  I really like reading through the old fashioned convention programs.  I like the idea of kismet.  Though I work with pediatrics, primarily on articulation and language issues, something outside of that realm might tickle my fancy.  What if there is a research study involving geriatrics whose communication skills stayed sharp through red wine and mystery novels?  I want to be there!  Is there something involving animals and communication?  Count me in!  What about bizarre Oliver Sacks type stuff?  Please save me a seat!

So plugging in keywords, topic area and tracks seemed too limiting in some ways.  But I dutifully persevered.  I plugged in topics.  I selected interesting sessions.  I downloaded the info.  Uh-oh.  I had lots of double and triple booked sessions and big gaps in between.  I can go back and search by date only trying to fill in some holes, but that seems rather cumbersome.

And the scheduler shows a printed itinerary with only session numbers.  So I found myself paging back and forth trying to figure out what I had selected and which of the 2 or 3 would get my time.  Another uh-oh.  Several of the times on my itinerary don’t match that on the session description.  I’m assuming the session description is the correct one.  Huh.  Oversight on my part.  I didn’t realize that a course I “selected” is actually a short course.  Or actually I did, but didn’t register the fact that this meant an additional fee and separate registration to secure my spot.  I’m still debating that one.  At this point, I’m about 80% sorted out.

The last convention I went to (Chicago 2008) I ran around like the Energizer bunny trying to maximize my continuing education hours.  This time I arrive with all my hours completed and, while I’m eager to gain more knowledge, I’m planning to maximize the experience.  So this means getting to the zoo and probably an art museum.  I’m leaving myself enough time for lunch to enjoy the San Diego Bay Food and Wine Festival.  I’ll sleep in one morning and order room service.  I leave a couple hours open for kismet.

Are you coming?   Let me know where you’ll be!

(Kim is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers! Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

 

Kim Lewis M.Ed, CCC-SLP has a private practice for pediatrics in Greensboro, NC. She is the blogger at www.activitytailor.com, providing creative ideas for speech therapy, and the author of the Artic Attack workbook series.