I went to my first ASHA convention unsure of what to expect. I knew CEUs, exhibit hall swag, Orlando sunshine and lines at the ladies restroom were certain. While all these were true, the most important parts of the conference for me were friendships and renewed energy. Throughout the convention you might have seen daily hash tags used to discuss and promote daily happenings. They turned out to be a good marker of all the different parts of my trip as I reflect on the weekend.
#asha14roots: I’ve only been an SLP for five years, so my roots don’t grow very deep in this field yet. At the conference, I got to hug clinical supervisors and undergraduate friends. Lunch with a fellow Ohio University Bobcat made me thankful for all the people who have played a part in my SLP history thus far.
#asha14branches: Branching out was my favorite part of ASHA. Specialist from all over the country taught the CE courses. It’s something you just can’t get at your local courses. Listening to sessions about hands-on research happening in different parts of the country got me so excited about the growth in our field. I look forward to following the results of the various projects funded through grants or universities. In the exhibit hall, I got to put a face to the many names I email throughout the year. Although apps are nothing new, I was really impressed with the increasing level of complexity in new apps. It’s not much of a secret that I love speech therapy materials. I have a closet-full at work and a closet-full at home. The exhibit hall had a variety of new materials. There is something special about a speech therapist that makes a tool that works for her clients, who then turns that into a business to make materials available for other professionals.
#asha14leaves: I’m leaving ASHA with some excellent plans for my preschool caseload. I’m going to increase my use of informational text and increase multi-step play routines to develop language within one level of play. I love leaving sessions with specific ideas for next week’s therapy. I’m leaving ASHA with new networking connections. I did some planning with Yapp Guru to talk about cataloging app reviews. I’m leaving with new ideas about Social Thinking from Michele Garcia Winner’s sessions. Most importantly, I’m leaving with new SLP friends. Sometimes being the only SLP in your building can feel isolating. Being amongst 12,000 fellow professionals has made me remember that I have connections all over the world. Our job is a unique blend of science and arts. The convention renewed my excitement for our field and my fellow SLPs. See you next year in Denver!
Jenna Rayburn, MA, CCC-SLP, is a school-based speech-language pathologist from Columbus, Ohio. She writes at her blog, Speech Room News. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.