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

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 This is an outdated view of social media, and it ages you when you act like you’ve never heard of “the Twitter.”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.


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.

ASHA Philly Wrap Up

(This post originally appeared on SpeechTechie)

This was my fifth ASHA experience- I have been fortunate enough to make it to Miami, Chicago, Boston, New Orleans and Philly. I know that it can be overwhelming at first, and I usually get so discombobulated that I commit some kind of major faux pas. I recall back in Chicago, I saw a gentleman walking toward the escalator, spied his last name on his badge, and thought I knew him from Boston University. As I got on the escalator behind him, I said, “Hey, Jerry!” and flummoxed him (he was not Jerry) so much that he actually TIPPED OVER. Ohhhhhhh, Sorry. Tipping over was also involved in the Philly convention. After Laura and I hastily pinned up our poster Thursday morning for our session that afternoon, we rushed to get to the first talk we wanted to see (two SLPs, and neither of us could figure out that Marr Salon G meant the session was in the Marriott, and we had to ask for assistance). Coffee/breakfast lines are always an ordeal at the convention, and I still hadn’t eaten my bagel or finished my iced coffee. As we navigated the packed conference room and into some seats, late, I did this whole lose-my-balance/fall kind of thing when I was unhinged by the heaviness of my laptop bag and the narrowness of the row. Luckily the two SLPs I almost fell onto were totally cool and had a good laugh. Also, luckily I had not stuck the “presenter” tag on my badge yet, though the fact that I was one of perhaps three men in the room might have made me stand out a little. I did decide NOT to eat my bagel at that point, as I had already broken like three unwritten rules: coming in late, with a big drink, and falling.

Things got much better after that. ASHA is always a great time to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, and this time I “knew” (virtually at least) a lot more people, and they knew SpeechTechie! Maggie McGarry, ASHA’s social media director, held a “tweet-up” and I got to meet her (@maggielmcg) as well as a bunch of Twitter #slpeeps @palspeech, @geekslp, @speechalicia, and @pediastaff. Follow these guys on twitter! Maggie also had set up a twitter hashtag (a phrase starting with “#” that helps you find all tweets on a particular topic), and that was very helpful! I also finally got to meet Alyssa Banoti, my editor for my posts on the ADVANCE blog, and it was great to put a face to all the virtual communication.

Thanks, Maggie, also, for the special tweeting tag!

We actually had a terrific timeslot for our poster, so this experience was much better than my last (when no one showed up for it). The feedback was great and everyone was interested in getting our handouts. Thanks, Laura (and Katy and Christine) for all the hard work!

Then, Friday at 11 was my timeslot for my seminar. I was only vaguely nervous all morning and made it to a few good sessions. Imagine my surprise, though, when I got to my conference room and saw this:

All those people were waiting (30 min prior) to get into my session! It was wonderful to see that so many SLPs are interested in using technology in their work, and the response to my talk was really overwhelming, in a good way. Thanks so much to everyone who came.

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 has presented on the topic of technology integration in speech and language at the ASHA convention and is the author of the blog SpeechTechie: Looking at Technology Through a Language Lens.

When Worlds Collide

There are several words that I could use to describe myself. Wife. Mother. Christian. Speech-Language Pathologist. Joe Girl.
Let me explain.

I first noticed Joe McIntyre of the New Kids on the Block while watching my sister’s “Hangin’ Tough Live” video. And since that moment in 1989, I have been a “Joe Girl.” I barely realized that there were four other members of the group. Joe was (and admittedly still IS) my one and only celebrity crush. My room, as a teenager, was covered in pictures of him. I was a quiet, shy, nerdy girl and listening to their music made me smile. It made me excited about something. It made me feel like I belonged somewhere. You may be wondering why I have been a loyal “Joe Girl” and New Kids fan for over half of my life. Why didn’t I leave him behind with the angst of my teenage years? Because that shy, nerdy, excited teenager is still there inside of me. I think that Joe is extraordinarily talented. His voice is amazing. He is also very funny. And let’s be honest. (I’m going to try to say this in the most professional manner that I can.) The man is easy on the eyes and has a stage presence that blows me away. And, most importantly, he has brought some of the most amazing women from all over the world into my life as my friends and sisters.

As a teenager, all I thought about and all I wanted was to meet Joe. I just KNEW that he would like me too. :) The first time that I ever met Joe was in his hometown of Boston in 1993. He was so kind as to stop and talk to my friend and me. When he left, I cried like a baby and thought I was going to faint. I couldn’t believe that I actually met him. And, as I’m sure you figured out, he didn’t like me back! I have been very fortunate to meet Joe a number of times since 1993. He has always been sweet, appreciative, and generous. Joe congratulated me on the birth of my daughter, held my hand and thanked me for being a fan, flashed his smile, posed for photos, and gave me hugs. Yes, many of these meetings were a part of his “job”, but he never HAD to do anything extra special. He didn’t have to do ANYTHING. He did it anyway.

I have been a speech pathologist for over seven years. My professional life and my celebrity crush collided this past spring when I read the People magazine article about Joe’s son Rhys, who was born with severe hearing loss.   I cried when I read that article. As a fan–because even with new research and technology, Rhys may never fully hear his father’s songs. As a professional–because I knew the implications of the diagnosis. As a parent–because I could empathize with the roller coaster of emotions that comes with getting a diagnosis about one’s child. But then I was filled with hope for Joe and his wife Barrett as I read about their positive and realistic outlook on Rhys’ hearing loss. Joe and Barrett are just like all the other parents who I’ve had in my office…who we have all had to talk to, comfort, encourage, and educate.

When I learned that Joe was going to be the recipient of ASHA’s Annie Glenn Award, I knew that I had to be there to see it. And I am so thrilled that I was. I have been to numerous New Kids’ concerts and Joe’s solo shows. I saw him live on Broadway. (I may have missed a few engagements over the years–please don’t tell him!) But seeing him receive the award in Philadelphia was the most memorable and it meant the most to me. Why? Because on that night, he was there as Joe McIntyre–a father–who gave us glimpses into private moments. He was real and raw as he spoke about his son’s hearing loss. He also expressed gratitude to our profession. Joe sprinkled in some trademark humor, as well, but it was a Joe that I had never seen before. Seeing him in that light made me admire him all the more. He is a father trying to do the best he can for his son. He is making a difference, contributing to the discussion, raising awareness, and I know that he will continue to do so. I have never been prouder to be a “Joe Girl.”

In 1990, I wrote Joe fan letters and had to send them to the fan club. In 2010, I am able to tweet him whenever I want, but I am restricted to 140 characters. This blog, I guess, could be considered the ultimate fan letter. But please indulge me and let me tweet….

@joeymcintyre I am a Joe girl for life. Thank u will never be enough for all u do & for making me smile. With love to you & the Macs~Me xo

Jeannette A. Wesseldyke, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist who lives and works in northern New Jersey. She resides with her husband and their almost-4-year-old daughter. She would like to thank Maggie McGary for the opportunity to attend the awards ceremony and write this blog post.

I Came…I Saw

The 2010 ASHA Convention in Philadelphia has come and gone, though its memories remain fresh in my mind.  Like all conventions there are things which I’ll remember fondly and others, well…not so much.  In the spirit of channeling my inner movie critic, I present my list of convention HITS and MISSES.

Street flag "Welcome with Love Philadelphia xoxo ASHA"

Photo by Kenn Staub

HIT: Reunions with old friends…Walking throughout the convention site I was occasionally startled by shrieks as long time friends greeted each other, often with warm embraces.  Some had not seen each other for months, others years.  I myself was not immune (though I do not shriek)…whether it was reminiscing about the 1992 Penguins/Blackhawks Stanley Cup playoff series with Richard Peach…listening as a former professor, Larry Molt, told my current students embarrassing stories about my college days (“Don’t eat the eggs”)…chatting-up Leisa Harmon about the state of affairs at a university where I once taught (Minot State in North Dakota)…dining with Charles Ellis and shooting the breeze, talking about this, that, and other things as if we had just seen each other yesterday and not two years ago.

HIT: Meeting new people…As anyone who has ever attended a convention can attest, part of the attraction is networking.  Meeting new people, hearing other perspectives, learning from each other.  In this I’m sure I was not alone.  It was my pleasure to have met, among others…Maggie McGary, the moderator of ASHAsphere, who was kind enough to share her perspective on ASHA’s involvement with social media…Todd Tyler of Dynavox, who discussed developments in the world of alternative and assistive technology…Lesley Magnus from Minot State, who had some interesting ideas for further development of a poster I presented (“No, I had not considered that”).  Like my students, who were excited to meet and pose for pictures with Barry Guitar, I was not immune to being “star struck”…it was truly a privilege to discuss professional ethics with Norman Lass, an individual I’ve admired since reading his multi-volume collection Speech, Language, and Hearing in the mid 1980s (when I was a student).

MISS: Long lines…Whether it was waiting for coffee in the morning, trying to get served at lunch, or simply picking up registration materials, a line could be found snaking across the convention floor at almost any given moment.  After talking with many attendees, it seems that waiting to pick-up registration materials was the most galling.  True, ASHA provided an option for materials to be sent in advance, but a one-and-a-half hour wait to pick-up a paper badge, receipt, and swipe card on Thursday morning…after having already registered on-line…really.

HIT: Watching students come into their own…Like many college faculty in attendance, I was looking forward to presenting with my students and seeing how they would hold-up under the scrutiny of a nation-wide representation of speech-language pathologists.  Luke Martin discussing the perception of accented speech by SLP students for nearly three hours…Sara Johnson and Vanessa Wheatley, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 8:00 on Saturday morning ready to explore the portrayal of SLPs in print advertising with interested parties…Greg Hoover unveiling one of the first speech pathology-specific studies pertaining to effects of Lyme disease on cognitive-linguistic function at 3:00 on Saturday afternoon…they all acquitted themselves well and should be proud of their accomplishments.

MISS: Lack of session moderators…Though short courses had moderators, they were noticeably lacking at technical sessions and seminars.  Who was going to start the session…how were the speakers to be introduced…who would ensure that speakers did not stray from their allotted time…how were questions to be solicited from the audience.  Fortunately confusion was held to a minimum, at least in the sessions I attended.

MISS: Closed sessions…Fortunately none of the sessions I wanted to attend were closed (I suppose voice disorders weren’t that popular this year), but I heard grumblings from colleagues about having to sit on the floor and being turned away from packed rooms.  This, in fact, led some to leave sessions early or miss ones they hoped to attend in order to get seats (possibly) at others.  The end result was the same…missed continuing education opportunities, missed learning experiences.

HIT: Poster sessions…I love the diverse nature of the presentations which can be found at any one time in the Poster Hall.  Who knows what interesting subject is just around the corner??   I learned, among so many interesting projects, the history of aphasia therapy…how to prepare my students for potentially difficult clinical placements…that some SLPs still might consider blowing and sucking activities as effective for treating velopharyngeal dysfunction…how to make grad school more appealing to non-traditional students…the list goes on.

As with everything in life, there was some positive, some negative.  I’m confident, however, that my memories of what I learned, who I met, and how I enjoyed myself will last far longer than any negatives which might have been experienced.  This being noted, I do know one thing for sure…I can’t wait for the next ASHA convention.

This blurb represents the opinions and experiences of this author and this author only.  If you have a “HIT” or “MISS” or other memory from Philadelphia, feel free to share them in the comments section.

Kenneth Staub, M.S., CCC-SLP, is an Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He will be a regular contributor to ASHAsphere and welcomes questions or suggestions for posts.

ASHA 2010 Highlights

It is hard to believe that the ASHA convention (AKA #ashaconv) is already over. I arrived in Philly Wednesday night, and I am now (Saturday) on an airplane on my way to Tokyo, Japan. This was by far, the best of my 6 times at the #ashaconv.

Side Note: If you are not a twitter user, #ashaconv was the “hashtag” we used to tag all ASHA’sconvention-related posts on twitter.

So much happened to me in Philly in two days that I am still trying to wrap my head around it, (and) it was a lot of fun.

The expectation: Being a social media enthusiast, there were several people I was looking forward to meeting in “real life”. I chat and tweet with so many people on a daily basis on the Internet, that sometimes it feels like we already know each other in real life, or even more, that we are best friends. I looked forward to meeting famous people such as Samuel Senott (the creator of Proloquo2go) and “speech techie” as well as friends I had not seen since the last ASHA convention, and meet a few of the other app developers and my #slpeeps (also from twitter) at the tweetup organized by ASHA. My biggest question was: will anyone recognize me as @geekslp?

The arrival: After many hours on an airplane without Internet, I arrived in Philly and headed straight to the convention center in downtown. After dragging my luggage around (for a while), I arrived at the registration booth where I was able to pick up my badge and register my booth. This was the first time I got to have a booth at the ASHA convention, but the process went very smoothly. Setting up was also easy, just put my signs up and headed back to the hotel where I was able to rest for my first day at ASHA, showing the apps I had developed over the last year.

The first day: I love the feeling of walking around the convention center every year when I go to ASHA. I feel the energy of highly motivated individuals with one goal in mind: learn to become a better professional and share their knowledge with others. These are three days of intensive learning and sharing; you can definitely feel the “vibe”. On my first day I had several of my virtual friends stop by my booth to greet me. I discovered that folks such as Maggie from ASHA, Jose Ortiz from Pal Software, Samuel Senott, Jeffrey Johnson from Grembe apps were not only a lot of fun online but also in person. Many people claim that the Internet has been taking away some of the social interaction, but for me it has created an enormous opportunity for meeting some very interesting individuals.

I tried to attend a presentation on apps, but since it is such a hot topic, the room was already full by the time I got there. After the exhibitors hall was closed it was time to head to the Hispanic Caucus meeting, and later that night it was time to get together with the folks from MC2 at the Marriot and get to visit with my friends from the ASHA’s Minority Student Leadership Program; which I had the chance to be a part of in 2006.

Ashaconv day 2: At 7 a.m. I was headed to the Overlook café at the convention center where we had a tweetup organized. Yes, it was a bit early, especially because I did not leave the convention center the night before until 11 p.m. This was a great time to meet some interesting people and laugh about how we look different in the real world. On day 2, I got to meet more of my social media friends, such as Jeremy Brown (a teacher attending ASHA convention) and I also got some attendees who would say, “ Oh! You are Geek SLP!” or “ Look! I already have one of the apps you designed.” At 5 p.m. and with a very hoarse voice (from talking nonstop) I had to head back to the airport for my flight back to Dallas.

I hope I get to see my virtual friends again next year, and get to meet some of the friends I will make until it is time for ASHA 2011, San Diego.

Barbara Fernandes is a trilingual speech and language pathologist. She is the director of Smarty Ears and the face behind GeekSLP TV, a blog and video podcast focusing on the use of technology in speech therapy. Barbara has also been a practicing speech therapist both in Brazil and in the United States. She is a an active participant of the Texas Speech and Hearing Association as a member of the TSHA Culturally and linguistically diverse issues task force. Barbara has created over 15 applications for speech therapists.