Why “Why Not?” Is a Worthwhile Attitude

Why Not?

November 8, 2014: eleven days before the ASHA Convention in Orlando, Florida.

After talking with my CSD professors and mentors about convention and exploring the ASHA website, I knew there was nothing more that I wanted than to attend. My chances of being able to go, however, were slim. After all, it was only a little more than a week away and I hadn’t figured out transportation or housing, much less how to pay for the actual convention.

I noticed the “Student Volunteer” link on the ASHA website, and my eyes lit up. At least until I saw the deadline to apply was two months ago. After a twinge of disappointment, I decided to email the volunteer contact anyway—I figured, “Why not?”

When I got a response back asking if I could work on November 18th from 10 am to 7 pm in exchange for complementary attendance, I practically fell out of my chair. I said yes, and after moving several pieces of the logistics puzzle around, my arrangements were set.

Now that I am fortunate enough to have attended my first ASHA convention, I can say with confidence that it was one of the most eye-opening, inspiring experiences I’ve had. Throughout the week, as I walked from session to session, I often found myself shaking my head in pure astonishment that the whole plan actually came together. The “Why Not?” mentality—grounded in drive, openness and ambition—encourages the pursuit of opportunities that seem beyond reach. Committing to this mindset will not only enable you to “shoot for the stars,” but to land among them.

When approaching your aspirations with a “Why Not?” attitude, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Communicate in a professional tone. Whether you are writing an email or interacting in person, be mature in your presentation to show that even as a student, you will be able to fit in seamlessly with experienced professionals.
  • Providing too much information is better than too little. This is the part where you make it easy for them to say yes. Emailing to inquire about a volunteer position? Attach a resume before they ask for one. Tell them why you are the best possible fit. Hold nothing back when pursuing an opportunity.
  • Be persistent. Professionals are busy, so don’t take lack of response personally. If you do not hear from anyone after a few days, send a polite follow-up email to ensure that they saw your previous message. Persist also in setting deadlines for yourself. If you say you will do or send something, then follow through.
  • Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is one of my life mottos after being an avid gymnast for 14 years and I find it applies to almost every challenge I encounter. Asking yourself “Why not?” forces you to get out of your comfort zone and pursue opportunities not easily attainable. The more you put yourself out there, the better you will become at it.

Pursuing opportunities with the “Why Not?” mentality serves me well in attaining my ultimate goal of becoming an SLP, and affords me a variety of experiences, including the writing of this article. After receiving a hand-out to write for the ASHA Leader at the convention, I chuckled at the idea. When I took out the folded piece of paper from my backpack days later, however, I opened up my laptop, started typing, and thought: “Why not?”


Robyn Croft is a third year undergraduate student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department at the University of Texas at Austin studying Speech/Language Pathology. She is a Student Clinician at the Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute. She can be reached at robyncroft00@gmail.com.

My First ASHA Convention: The Perspective of a Graduate Student


How To Get There

My exposure to the ASHA convention up until this year was limited to the experiences of others: faculty members who discussed their presentations; doctoral students who presented their work at the conference; and tales of bright-eyed graduate students who had attended their first convention. But amidst the busyness of the end of the semester I wasn’t prepared for just how amazing my first ASHA convention experience was going to be.

My journey to the 2014 ASHA Convention started earlier this year, when I saw a post on ASHA’s Facebook page announcing the Student Ethics Essay Contest. Like most other graduate students, I did not have an expendable income to support my conference attendance, so I figured it was worth a shot to enter the contest! I never expected to win and am so honored. It was a rewarding and enriching experience to examine the Code of Ethics in greater detail, and I encourage graduate students to enter the contest in future years.

Why Go as a Graduate Student?

I didn’t really know what to expect of the convention and I wasn’t sure how useful it was going to be for me, but it turned out to be an incredibly valuable experience. As a second year graduate student, I now have the level of knowledge and assuredness of which areas are most interesting to me to allow me the focus necessary to be productive at the convention.

Here are some compelling reasons to attend an ASHA convention as a graduate student:

• Perhaps the most exciting part of the experience was being surrounded by thousands of other people who have the same interests, passions, and who are doing similar work. It was validating and encouraging to be sitting in a room full of students, researchers, and clinicians who have the same questions that I do, and who were there seeking answers, knowledge, and ideas from other clinicians and researchers. There is so much to learn!
• It is a great way to network. For example, while at the convention I had the opportunity to meet a professor from another university whose project I am assisting with from a distance and discuss the next steps of the project.
• Jobs, jobs, jobs! There are so many recruiters in the exhibit hall, from all kinds of settings. It is the best feeling to walk around, peruse the different opportunities and locales, and feel confident that our field is in such a need that we can find work pretty much anywhere!
• It is a great opportunity to gain experience presenting research. Submit a poster and if it is accepted there are always ways to find funding, like through your local NSSLHA Chapter or your graduate program department.


What It’s Like

Once at the convention, I quickly had to accept the fact that it was impossible to see every presentation that I wanted to. So instead I strategized and attended talks that are relevant to my clinical placements and other intriguing topics that I won’t get the chance to learn about in my rotations. Things that stood out:

• The days are long and the presentations are many. I was faced with the choice of attending Short Courses (CEU courses), Sessions, Poster Presentations, and Technical Sessions – all of which co-occur! So having a sense of focus was important.
• The beauty of ASHA is that there are so many presenters that you are bound to find many presentations that you’re interested in. My two greatest areas of interest are voice and bilingual (Spanish/English) speech-language pathology, so that’s primarily where I focused my time, but I also stepped out of my comfort zone and attended a talk about using Passy Muir valves in the pediatric population, as well as a really interesting talk about qualitative research using ethnographic interviewing in the Mexican immigrant population in the US. My favorite talks were the ones that ended in great conversation and a common sharing of ideas and knowledge between clinicians and researchers alike.
• I was impressed with the NSSLHA Experience program, which is geared toward current and prospective graduate students in both speech-language pathology and audiology. Experienced clinicians, current clinical fellows, and leaders in our field presented about the ins and outs of preparing for the PRAXIS exam, how to secure a quality Clinical Fellowship experience, and the important differences between a mentor and supervisor.

I wasn’t ready to leave and I am still thinking about the wonderful people I met, all of the opportunity in store for the future of our field, and the next generation of speech-language pathologists and audiologists. See you next year, in Denver!

Christine Delfino is a second year master’s student in the Speech and Hearing Sciences Department at Arizona State University studying bilingual speech-language pathology. She was the first place winner of the 2014 Student Ethics Essay Award. She can be reached at cdelfino@asu.edu.

Lessons Learned from #ASHA14


Before the convention, I wrote a blog post about how to prepare to speak at the ASHA convention for the first time. When I wrote the post, I had spoken at another convention; however, I attended that convention as a speaker rather than the primary goal to participate in continuing education. At the ASHA Convention I planned to do both.

As I write, it is Sunday morning after the convention. I am reflecting on what went well and what didn’t go well as a speaker and attendee (not in regards to the convention in general).


What Went Well

I stayed organized. I used the resources I mentioned in my previous post to stay organized with my presentations. I also designated a paper folder to put information I would need paper copies of (e.g. shuttle routes, tickets, speaker’s notes, and master schedule). My master schedule was a great compensatory strategy for someone with a tired and busy brain. I will use the same system next year.


My food was amazing! Not only did I not get “glutened” (I have Celiac’s disease), but also my food was delicious and I didn’t stand in line waiting for food and I could eat on my schedule. The premade meals I ordered (external source) were a major success. It was relatively inexpensive to have delicious food pre-made and delivered to my hotel. I felt like I beat the system! Traveling is usually full of extra energy finding food I can eat and worrying if I’ll get sick (and dealing with it when I do).


I had a ton of fun! I was able to reconnect with friends and colleagues I haven’t seen since last year. I made new friends and connections. Sessions were inspiring. Several sessions had amazing speakers that couldn’t hide their excitement for being there. I love to see that excitement in a presenter. I went to a few large group events and quieter, smaller events too.


What I’ll Do Different Next Year

Submit fewer sessions. As I mentioned in my prior post, I didn’t anticipate all of the sessions would get accepted. I will submit fewer sessions next year. With so many sessions, it was challenging to schedule meetings and focus on relationship building at the convention. There were some conversations that I really would have liked to continue in order to form professional partnerships. (Thankfully, I can reach out to those people via email to continue the conversation.) Next year I won’t submit as many.


Book better flights. In Chicago, I left too early. This year I’m leaving too late. My flight doesn’t depart until 8:40pm on Sunday. The buzz from the convention has halted and I’m ready to go home to my family. Of course, next year it will be in Denver. I live in Boulder, so the convention center is a 35-minute drive from my home. No flights necessary. Travel will be much easier next year!


Sleep more. I was so excited to present on Friday morning (and inspired by Thursday’s sessions) that I was wide-eyed in the early hours of the morning, which meant I got about 3-hours of sleep. Just like I tell my clients all the time, adequate sleep is so important for your brain. I was processing slower, tripping on my words, and lost my place in conversations and while speaking in sessions! Anyone have suggestions for turning down excitement and wonder?


Overall the 2014 ASHA Convention was an excellent experience. I feel so inspired from the sessions I attended, people I met, and presenting. I have so many ideas help make the first quarter for 2015 amazing for Gray Matter Therapy.


Rachel Wynn, MS, CCC-SLP, specializes in eldercare, and, as the owner of Gray Matter Therapy, provides education to therapists, healthcare professionals, and families regarding dementia and elder care. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 15 (Gerontology) and an advocate for ethical elder care and improving workplace environments, including clinical autonomy, for clinicians.

It Really is a “Brave New World” for Speech-Language Pathology!

In 1931, Aldous Huxley’s novel A Brave New World told us a tale of what society in the distant future would look like… a place of advanced technology, new social structures and radical changes in how humanity interacts with each other… sound familiar?

Well, arranging the Georgia Speech-Language Hearing Association’s (GSHA) short course offerings has opened my eyes to how very fast the role of being an SLP is changing from year to year. We are now serving highly diverse populations of multiple nationalities, utilizing technology that just 10 years ago was science fiction and becoming more and more an integrated part of the healthcare community in general. From NICU to hospice, home health care to the public schools, SLPs are involved with communication and swallowing disorders across the lifespan. We are providing these services in a cost effective, evidence based manner that is making real and measurable change in the populations we serve.

It is with this “Brave New World” in mind, that GSHA would like to present to our fellow convention-goers three short course opportunities that are sure to make a positive impact on the clients, patients and students we all serve. ASHA has given the Georgia association the wonderful opportunity to provide ticketed pre-convention and convention related short courses on November 14th and 15th. Please join us on November 14th for-

Barbara Fernandes, M.S., CCC-SLP The iPad and Your Therapy – Apps, Accessories, Accessibility and Features

Jose Galarza, M.A., CCC-SLP Spanish Influenced English: What Every SLP Should Know

and on November 15th for-

Kate Krival, Ph. D. CCC-SLP Anticipation: Neural Bases and Clinical Implications in Swallowing in Adults

Our pre-convention activities on November 14th will include presentations from Barbara Fernandes, M.S, CCC-SLP and Jose Galarza, M.A. CCC-SLP. Barbara (better known as GeekSLP) will be presenting on all things Apple, Ipad and App related. Bring your Ipad and/or Iphone to her presentation and you will leave better understanding how to use it with your respective population. Jose’s presentation will address the needs of monolingual SLPs working with bilingual children in the school setting. Since school SLPs are increasingly faced with the communication needs of Hispanic children, his presentation is especially relevant to the English speaker attempting evaluation and treatment of those children. Barbara and Jose are both experts in their respective areas and will highly impact the attendee in a positive manner.

On November 15th, join GSHA in welcoming Kate Krival, Ph. D., CCC/SLP. Dr. Krival directs the Swallowing Research Lab at Kent State University and she is a Research Investigator in the Head and Neck Neural Interface Lab at Louis Stokes Veterans Administration Medical Center in Cleveland, OH. She is particularly interested in clinical research targeting sensory-based interventions for swallowing disorders in adults with neurogenic dysphagia. If dysphagia is your area of interest, Kate will leave you with tons of evidenced based ideas for use with your patients!

So, Join GSHA and ASHA in facing this Brave New World of ours with the confidence that these courses will keep you informed, up to date and ahead of the curve!!! See you in Atlanta…


Edgar V. (Vince) Clark, M. Ed., CCC/SLP, advocates for the importance of state association participation whenever possible. He is currently the GSHA to ASHA Liason for the 2012 convention, current GSHA CEU chair and is a past-president of GSHA. Professionally, he is interested in adult dysphagia, all things technology, and the use of social media for promoting the professions.


The ASHA Convention is quickly approaching! If you haven’t already registered, don’t delay–register today! Stay tuned to ASHAsphere in the weeks leading up to the ASHA Convention for posts by the official Convention bloggers–Jeremy LegaspiTiffani Wallace and Katie Millican. Not an official Convention blogger but want to write a post about it for ASHAsphere? No problem! Send posts to Maggie McGary at mmcgary@asha.org and it could be featured here.

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.

ASHA Convention 2010

It’s that time again…time for ASHA’s annual Convention. This year’s Convention is taking place in Philadelphia, PA and promises to offer both great content and opportunities for attendees to connect with each other both online and in person.

The past few years, ASHA has been using Twitter during Convention to communicate with attendees in real-time, and to allow attendees and exhibitors to connect with both ASHA and each other. Even if you’re not attending Convention this year, you can follow along by searching for #ashaconv on Twitter. And if you are there, make sure to check out the “Twitter Wall” in the ASHA Member Service Center.

For the first time, ASHA will be hosting a Tweetup on Friday morning at 7 am in the Overlook Cafe on the 3rd level of the Convention Center. We’ll be posting photos here on ASHAsphere and also on the ASHA Facebook Page. Please feel free to add your own Convention photos to the album on Facebook, and watch the Wall of the Facebook Page for special announcements and deals in the ASHA Bookstore.

Throughout the rest of this week, ASHAsphere will be featuring posts by guest bloggers attending Convention. If you have a post you’d like to contribute, either before, during or after the event, you can contact me (Maggie McGary) either via email at mmcgary@asha.org or look for me in Philadelphia.

Do you have tips for first-time attendees? Suggestions for things to do or see in Philadelphia? Memorable moments from past conventions? Please share them in the comments!

Philadelphia Here We Come

When November rolls around in the world of speech-language pathology and audiology, it only seems natural that one’s thoughts turn to the Annual Convention. This year’s gathering, in Philadelphia, is just a quick trip across Pennsylvania so Clarion University will be well represented. Many of our program’s students will be attending their first professional conference. The sense of excitement among those going is palpable, though their anticipation is tempered by questions about what to expect. Some have turned to me for insight, which has spurred reflection on my part.

Liberty bell

Photo by Tony the Misfit

The ASHA Annual Convention represents a multitude of things…it’s an educational forum…it’s a science fair…it’s a chance to see the newest products and the latest books…it’s a reunion…it’s an opportunity to network and meet new people. In sum, it’s an intensive three day immersion into the culture of speech-language pathology and audiology.

The highlight of every convention are the presentations…auditory processing disorders, fluency, motor speech, augmentative and alternative communication, swallowing, culturally and linguistically diverse, language disorders, speech science, voice and resonance, speech sound disorders…there is truly something for everyone. Posters, seminars, technical sessions, short courses…formal or informal, short form or long…choose the format that suits you best. With the array of choices, it behooves one to have a preliminary plan. Like a child poring through the Sear’s “Wish Book” in days gone by, I sit with the ASHA-provided My Planner and make a schedule of who, what, when, and where…prepared to expect the unexpected because you just never know what interest might be piqued.

Not only will I be attending a multitude of presentations, I’ll also have the pleasure of delivering a few as well. Four posters, all prepared in conjunction with students, will be posted at various times on a bulletin board in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Hall C, for all to see. The topics vary, reflecting the diversity of subject matter in the profession…the perception of instructor accent by SLP students, the potential cognitive-linguistic deficits associated with Lyme disease, the portrayal of SLPs in print advertising. Like the proud parent of a middle schooler who has earned a blue ribbon for a project, I’ll stand with the involved students and take pleasure in knowing that each presentation started with an idea and was developed into a full-blown research project deemed worthy of dissemination to others.

How best to describe the Exhibit Hall…a carnival midway is the first analogy that leaps to mind…the sights, the sounds, the crush of people. Over 200 vendors, all with something new to see…books, therapy materials, tests, technology, novelties…the latest and the greatest, just step right up. Fortunately the maelstrom that is the Exhibit Hall can be explored in a more optimal manner than in years past using ASHA’s Virtual Expo, which allows one to plan the experience. Nevertheless, I’d still be prepared to expect the unexpected…you never know who will have that “hot”, “gotta have” item.

Perhaps one of the most enjoyable aspects of any ASHA Convention is seeing friends and familiar faces. In some respects it’s like a high school reunion…who does what…who is where…have the years between our last meeting been good? Like many in the field, I’ve made several stops along the way. And at each stop I’ve met people and made friends, both personal and professional, who I’m anxious to reconnect with. Former professors (that includes you Drs. Peach, Molt, and DeChicchis)…former colleagues (paging you Dr. Linares and Ms. Saltsgiver)…former students…and people with whom I’ve developed friendships (looking forward to it Leisa, Charles, Scott, Amy, Mark, Clint). Yes, I’m still teaching…yes, I’m still at Clarion…yes, the family is good…yes, I’ve lost a little more hair…yes, I’ve gained weight and its probably not all muscle.

Almost as much fun as seeing the “old” is meeting the “new”. Chatting with somebody next to you at a presentation…talking to a presenter after a session…connecting with someone you’ve communicated with solely through email…joining a Dynamic Learning Group…meeting up with a STEP Mentee. Maybe this will be the year I actually remember to give out one of the business cards I come armed with. Though we might be different and strangers to each other, we all have one thing in common…speech-language pathology and audiology.

Do you have any reflections or or experiences related to the ASHA Convention that you’d like to share? How about tips for helping others successfully navigate the experience?

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.