My #ASHA11 Experience

My ASHA Experience

Right now, I’m sitting on the plane, heading to Chicago, Twitter-less and feeling a bit isolated.  I definitely have mixed emotions at this time.  While I am so very excited to get home and be with my family, I’m a little sad to leave the excitement of San Diego.  As we were getting ready to take off from San Diego, I looked out the window, at the city I love so much.  It was raining which somewhat matched my mood.

As much as I enjoyed the sessions and the learning, nothing can compare to the social aspect of ASHA.  Last year was my first ASHA experience.  I was fairly new to Twitter.  I had a Twitter account quite a while before Philadelphia, but rarely used it.  I mostly made my account because my husband was always talking about Twitter this and Twitter that.  I mainly got in there to post about him and somewhat make fun of him.

Last year I met some great people at the Tweet-Up, but there was just not the same amount of comraderie as I felt at this ASHA.  Last year, we met up and that was pretty much that.  This year, it was more like meeting up with old friends.  I actually met my first SLPeep on wednesday.  On Thursday, I went to the Community Lounge and found Jeremy and Maggie.  While we were standing there talking, I felt like a celebrity walked by because I recognized Tara from her picture.  I went over and asked, “hey, aren’t you speechkeen?” and everything took off from there.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget walking through San Diego with the friends I made online through Twitter, who were now real people to me.  I had the faces and the voices to go with the thoughts and comments.  The #slpeeps spent every evening together.  We were constantly Tweeting to each other and those that couldn’t be there with us.  I will have to say that the account that I had once signed up to use to make fun of my husband has truly been a blessing in my life, giving me a voice in the profession and giving me a network of GREAT SLP’s.

I absolutely loved spending time with my #slpeeps, Barbara, Jeremy, Sean, Phil, Adam, Bridget and everyone!!!  I enjoyed being let in on the secret of who the elusive @speechdudes are, well, 2/3 of them anyway.  I sure hope they found the missing dude!!

I thoroughly enjoyed spending time working in the SmartyEars booth.  Not only did it give me the opportunity to promote and demonstrate my app, but gave me an opportunity to share ideas, educate and meet other SLP’s.  Although I really don’t think I want to see the Apps Articulate It or the SAPT, I had fun helping Barbara.  It was nice to finally meet some of the members of the advisory board and to get to talk to them and share ideas.  I will also have to say what a blessing it was to meet Barbara, GeekSLP.  I could tell, just from our conversations and interactions online that she had to a great person.  I wasn’t prepared in any way for my encounter with Barbara.  She has to be absolutely one of the nicest, most ambitious people I’ve met.  It was someone with whom I felt a connection.  The more time I spent with her, the more I really liked her!

The sessions were good.  I went to the Meet the Masters Symposium on MBS.  Bonnie Martin-Harris, James Coyle, Jeri Logemann and Joanne Robbins had a great presentation.  I mostly went to dysphagia sessions.  If you know me or follow my blog, you know it’s my passion.  The course about FEES for head and neck cancer was also a good course.  Lori Burkhead is an amazing speaker.  It was interesting to watch some of the FEES videos, particularly since I don’t do FEES at this time.  I wanted to go to the James Coyle session on disease and tests for dysphagia but it was packed so I moved on.  I went to many poster sessions.  I like the one-on-one interaction with the presenters at the posters.  I also enjoyed meeting several of the BRSS members.  I always feel like dysphagia paparazzi looking for all the big name clinicians for dysphagia.   Barabara’s session on articulation therapy using the iPad was very good.  I’m not particularly interested in articulation therapy, however enjoyed Barbara so much as a speaker.

Friday was a little more session-oriented for me.  I went to the session on Kinesio-Taping which was really good.  It was nice to learn a little more about the taping and gave me some ideas.  I think I’ll have to steal some tape from PT and OT when I get back and try to taping techniques of my own.  I think that knowing the insertion and origin of the muscles and the muscle function will make it a little easier to develop taping techniques.  I also went to the session on Videofluoroscopy Lost in Translation.  Kate Krival, Paula Leslie and Mary Casper did an excellent job.  I got one of my most retweeted quotes from their session.  No, it wasn’t a verbatim quote but something that I’ve been saying for a long time and that was basically summed up in that session about not worrying so much about the aspiration that you lose sight of all other factors of the swallow.  People as a whole are very complex and so is each of their histories and wants/needs.  We often need to be reminded that these people want the same things we want.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m thinking that not getting any water would drive me crazy.  My last session before the much anticipated Tweetup was from a panel of BRSS members, talking about specializing in head/neck cancer, evidence based practice and ALS.  As this session was not really what I was expecting, I ducked out a little early and made my way to the community lounge.

I met up with Tara and we waited eagerly for all the other SLpeeps to show up.  Finally they started trickling in one by one.  It was so nice to finally put faces with the names, Kristina, Kimberly and a few I hadn’t yet followed on Twitter.  Everyone very anxiously awaited the arrival the Speech Dudes.  We also saw a Tweet from Barbara that she was injured and wouldn’t be able to make it.  While we all started our chatting and still waiting for those dudes to come, at least one person tweeted a message to Barbara, asked how she was or checked for updates on her.   Finally 2 people showed up, we thought, that has to be the dudes.  We were playing an ice-breaker game with a thumbball and they were very quickly given the ball.  At last, we found the elusive speech dudes.  Well, except for the third dude who was MIA for 2 days.  What a great time!!!  How amazing to meet an amazing group of people.  I thoroughly enjoyed talking to each and every person, with Alicia discussing dysphagia <3, with Kristina, finally getting to meet, with Megan from Tactus therapy who is from Indiana, not far where I live, with Sean, who I think is my friend on every social media platform ever made!!  Of course also with Bridget, Tara and Jeremy who were already old friends!!  A huge shout out and thank you to Maggie who made it all possible. I don't know that I've ever expressed to Maggie how I appreciate her and all that she does for the SLpeeps.  As busy as Maggie was, she still made time for SLPeeps.  I think I can feel pretty comfortable in expressing a huge, heartfelt thank you to Maggie for all her work as an SLpeep.

Following the Tweet Up we all went to the awards ceremony.  What a group it was!!   Mike, Tara, Bridget, Kelly, Jeremy and myself were the misfits in the back.  Despite such a horribly boring ceremony, we made it fun.  Tweeting and laughing.  I’ll never forget the purple bowl award nor will I forget the red 80’s prom dress.  Not to mention the consistent grammatical error’s.  Thank you to such a great time, even if the King’s Speech guy didn’t show up!!!  Really, you can’t come pick up your purple bowl??  I’m guessing prom dress girl scared him away.  We’ll never really know…….

Saturday was such a bittersweet day.  Exhausted, sore, swollen, overwhelmed are just a few words to describe me on Saturday.  I started out the day with my poster.  Huge thank you to Tara, Sean and Phil, not to mention my friend Alicia for stopping by to say hi and see what I had.  I was in the autism row *shudder* and didn’t have a lot of traffic on a Saturday, but hey, I got to be a presenter!   I was really looking forward to the iSwallow app session.  I met Adam, commonly known as @slotaag after a slight ASHA11 #fail (sorry Adam!!!)  I very quickly lost all respect for the lecturer.  I realize that while you need to quickly fix a swallow, creating aspiration when there was not aspiration prior does not seem like an effective compensation and I wouldn’t call it a “beautiful” swallow.  We stayed and whispered for a bit, apparently the 2 ladies behind us didn’t appreciate our socializing as they got up and moved.  I thought the back row was created for those that like to socialize!!  We did not make the entire session.  Oh well!  I think went to lunch with Barbara at the Old Spaghetti Factory.  We told the waitress that we had to hurry and she was supposed to get the order right in.  Apparently the cook had pushed our order back after huge party.  We ended up having to take the food with us, but we did get a free meal out of it.  I then went for Barbara’s iPad session which was GREAT!  I actually learned some things about my iPad, that I should have known but didn’t.  I also went to her Social Media presentation which was just as good as her first 2 presentations.  It was also nice to be able to sit in the audience to support a friend in her presentation.

It was then time for the closing party, which again, was a very bittersweet time.  I so enjoyed spending time with my new friends and the night was over, it seems as soon as it began.  Then came time for all the hugs and goodbyes.  I felt like I was leaving my small ASHA11 family.

The SLpeeps started out as a small group.  I remember back when there were very few of us.  Now, we have such a presence in ASHA.  We even had our own ribbons.  When people ask me where I recommend they find support in their work, I always recommend the SLpeeps first.  What an eclectic group yet we all have the same passion and dedication to our jobs.  I’m pretty sure that we have each and every speech area covered in expertise through our community.  We are not only a network of professionals, we are a group of friends that truly care about each other, as we all witnessed when we found out Barbara was hurt.  The sheer number of tweets to her offering support and best wishes was overwhelming.  I am truly proud to be part of such an amazingly social, professional and dedicated group of people and proudly word my pink #slpeeps ribbon.  (Next year, we need to see about changing that to #slpeep’s)  :).

Now, I sit in the plane, I think I’m over Kansas, about an hour and a half away from my destination, exhausted but so happy that I embraced the social networking aspect of ASHA11 and didn’t spend the evenings in my room, as I did in Philadelphia, knowing that next year can only be better for the SLpeeps.

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