The annual ASHA Convention is the mecca for speech-pathologists and audiologists, and I was lucky enough to be one of their attendees this year. Every year, the conference draws 12,000 professionals from all over the world to share and learn about the latest research for best practice in our field. This was my 5th time attending ASHA, and I think this one was the best yet.
What’s amazing about ASHA is the sheer depth of sessions to choose from. What other conference allows you to choose from more than 200 sessions each day?! I recently secured a contract as an Assistive Technology/Augmentative & Alternative Communication specialist, so decided to focus my efforts likewise. Three days of ASHA sessions and I was learning new evidence-based uses of AAC and AT at an astonishing rate.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Convention was held in sunny Orlando, Florida. And although I was traveling alone, SLP’s are a friendly lot – I chatted with attendees between sessions and, even among 12,000 attendees, found familiar faces from various settings where I’ve worked. It’s a small world indeed.
Here are my 3 takeaways from the conference:
1.Be aware of the research that’s going on. Yes, I think it can be easy to get a little foggy on what we do, and it’s also easy to fall into old patterns. The folks at ASHA set the standard for best practice; it was good for me to confirm what I’ve been doing, and also to come away with a toolbox full of new tricks to try in my daily work with kids.
2. Technology makes it easy to take information with you. Gone are the days of powerpoint handouts. Instead, take pictures of slides with your smartphone and take notes on Evernote or Noteability. Thanks to my iPad, I now have all my convention notes stored electronically, with no paperwork floating on my desk, waiting to be filed (not that that ever happens!).
3.;GO, GO, GO TO ASHA! Every SLP should go to ASHA at least once in their career. It is inspiring and empowering to be among so many other professionals who dedicate their lives to helping others communicate. Truly an amazing experience. Find the funding where you can. It is not an experience you will forget.