SLPs came to ASHA’s Health Care Connect conference ready to learn about dysphagia, head and neck cancer, Parkinson’s disease, concussion, delirium—and much more. Across three days of sessions, SLPs heard how their unique skills and training prepared them to work as an integral part of multidisciplinary teams.
Editor’s note: This is part two of a series on tips SLPs learned at ASHA Connect 2018. Read part one for insights heard from attendees of the schools’ sessions.
Ruth Snyder, an SLP and solo practitioner in Jacksonville, Florida, began her Friday morning at Vivian Sisskin’s session, “Differential Diagnosis of Speech Disfluency: Is It Stuttering or Something Else?” Snyder was eager to learn from her colleagues. “It’s nice to hear other therapists discuss their experiences,” she said. “You get input from different people from different parts of the country who struggle with the same problems as you, but they may have new ideas or approaches to the same problem that you can now take and adapt in your practice.”
Interdisciplinary work recurred thematically across sessions. Participants in Cynthia Fox and Laura Guse’s session on improving care for people with Parkinson’s disease broke into groups to discuss their personal experiences with Parkinson’s patients, their perceived barriers to IPP, and stories of successful IPP relationships.
SLP Robin Fludd of Hampton, Virginia, works in the home health setting and enjoyed all the brainstorming in the session. She also valued the practical tips shared by Becky Khayum during another session on person-centered dysphagia management for people with dementia.
“[We learned about] the different things you can do with patients, like trying to get them to talk and have conversations in the nursing home,” Fludd said. “Just putting a basket in the middle of a table filled with things like photos of their family or things from home, this is so simple to do.”
For SLP Jeanette Baj of Englewood Hospital in New Jersey, access to knowledge leaders in the field was the attraction to Connect’s health care track. “The speakers, they are truly diamonds in the rough. The most knowledgeable minds here, and we were lucky to have them concentrated under one roof. I loved the diversity of the material presented with insight into the different scales of assessments and the diagnostic tools with the supporting research to help with implementation,” said Baj. She cited the in-depth review of diagnostic assessments from Kathryn Hardin’s session on adults with post-concussive syndrome as particularly useful.
As a graduate student at NYU, Anne Caverly attended sessions she hopes will prepare her for a future career working in acute-care pediatrics. “I really enjoyed the [Maria Braden’s] session on pediatric voice therapy,” Caverly said. “She put to practice everything I have been learning. And discovering that I know more than I think I know! It validated my education and career knowledge. I love my career choice, so it’s been nice to talk to so many people and get their perspectives and find out how many different things I can do with this field.”
Attendees of ASHA’s Schools and Private Practice Connect appreciated the ability to switch between conference tracks due to the co-location of all three. Julie Pater, an SLP in a nonpublic school setting in Maryland enjoyed the applicability of ideas across sessions. “It wasn’t just theory. [It was] practical advice and examples,” she said. “Having all three Connects in one spot affords you opportunities to expand your knowledge and get a taste for something different.”
Patty Allender, an SLP in Baltimore County public schools, felt that sessions like Scott Prath’s on language development in bilingual English learners gave her accessible solutions to handle challenges. “I attended a session on bilingualism, which is a population of kids that is increasing for me, and I’m always looking for resources. This was at a level I could understand,” she said.
And for SLP Sara Natale of the Crotched Mountain School in New Hampshire, ASHA Connect left her with a “renewed sense of learning. A lot of things can drag us down, all the paperwork, forms, or caseloads, but we’re all in this together. It [ASHA Connect] reminds me of why I’m a speech therapist and makes me assess my own knowledge when I see what others are doing.”
Jillian Kornak is a writer/editor for the ASHA Leader. firstname.lastname@example.org.