Best Things I Learned at ASHA 2014

By Brittany Lehane December 1, 2014

AbleNet Gadgets

New gadgets from AbleNet at the exhibit hall

I recently returned from the ASHA convention in Orlando. This was my first time ever going to the convention and it was everything I imagined- awesome, overwhelming, huge, and such a great opportunity! The majority of my sessions were fantastic and full of great information. I loved having the opportunity to meet so many great people in the field, especially people I’ve been following and reading about online. The cherry on top was finding last minute tickets to the closing party at Harry Potter World. After tweeting my butt off and giving up all hope, I found tickets at the very last minute (10 minutes before registration for the event closed). All in all it was an awesome experience so I wanted to share some highlights.

Top Takeaways From my Favorite Sessions

I went to so many awesome sessions and wanted to share some of the things I learned. One was about ways to support families of children with autism as they transition to adulthood. I was particularly interested in learning strategies to teach families how to deal with stress, because so many of the families we work with have such full plates. Some of their suggestions were connecting socially with supportive people, keeping a positive environment, recognizing growth, and taking leisure time. These strategies are all backed by research as effective methods to reduce stress. They also taught that effective coping strategies must be active as opposed to passive. An active coping method is making a plan as opposed to a passive reaction such as venting. This is a novel idea to me because I always thought venting was a good way to handle stress. We all need to get it out of our system and vent occasionally. This actually has been found to be less effective and more likely to lead to depression. Good to know- thanks ASHA!

ASHA Hogwarts

Taking pics in front of the Hogwarts Express at the closing party. So awesome!

Another one of my favorite sessions was a panel of four SLP’s who all owned their own private practices. Each of them structured their practices differently; some had traditional models of seeing clients face to face while others saw clients via telepractice. It was so interesting to learn about private practice from so many different perspectives! The speakers had a great message of thinking outside the box and being different. There really is no reason to put ourselves in one box and only think we can treat in one way. As SLP’s we have limitless options which is something I love about our field! Some of my favorite bloggers spoke at this session including Tara Roehl of Speechy Keen and Cyndee Bowen of Bowen Speech. Check out their blogs for great therapy ideas and musings on the field!

Lastly, another favorite was Sean Sweeney’s session on pairing picture books and apps for language therapy. His blog Speech Techie, a favorite of mine, gives great ideas on how to incorporate technology into therapy sessions. At ASHA, he talked about his favorite apps to pair with books to teach language. He mentioned Pic Collage, Toca Tailor, and Kidspiration Maps to name a few. A great piece of advice was finding videos of books on YouTube (many popular books are read out loud on YouTube) which may be more motivating for students.  He’ll also be doing a Webinar for ASHA in March on this topic which I am excited for!

In summary I had an awesome time! I learned so much and got to meet so many great people. It was really cool to meet many of the bloggers I follow in person. Let us know if you went and what your favorite experiences were!

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