American Speech Hearing Association Convention - Past and Present  

December 21, 2018

Over 18,000 speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists attended the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention in Boston November 15-17, 2018. This annual convention provides unparalleled opportunities to hear about the most current interventions, research, ideas and approaches. Speech-Language Pathologists Mikki Bohling, SPED Coordinator, and Judy Lauby, Speech Services Coordinator, were privileged to attend this remarkable conference in Boston. As members of the Central Region Autism Spectrum Disorders Team (CRASDT), Judy and Mikki were able to gather information to support ESU 10 staff members, families and school staff in the 93 districts the CRASDT Team serves. ESU 10 has been sending SLPs and other professionals (such as audiologists, school psychologists and resource specialists) to ASHA each year for well over 25 years. The only year that no one attended was 2011.

This year’s convention program offered more than 2,500 educational sessions that were eligible for ASHA Continuing Education Units under twenty-one categories. Some of the categories related to the scope of practice for school based SLPs included Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC); Autism Spectrum Disorders; Fluency; Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Language and Learning in School-Age; Language in Infants Through Preschoolers; Literacy Assessment and Intervention; Speech-Sound and Motor Speech Disorders; Telepractice and Technology; and Voice; all of these in addition to Academic and Education; Adult Services and Medical Services. Narrowing the amazing choices for each time period to just one session is the most daunting task of the whole convention! 

The Exhibit Hall featured over 300 companies offering products, tools, services and resources focused on the professions. ASHA has gone paperless, so most sessions offered handouts or slides online that could be shared with colleagues who were unable to attend the convention. The ASHA 2018 Convention App was a very helpful addition because it allowed for selecting sessions, accessing directions and documenting session attendance.  

Over the years ESU 10’s convention attendees have devised several strategies to help them make the opportunity as worthwhile as possible.  Examples include:
• Keeping ESU 10’s goals and priorities in mind. For example, focus for SLPs during the 2018-19 school year is enhancing the assessment process for SLI Language Verification so selecting workshops that led to enhancing this process was a priority. 
• Selecting “invited presenters” sessions that have been sponsored by each of 35 Special Interest Groups (SIGS). Attending these sessions is always valuable because these groups invite individuals who are at the forefront of their field. 
• Prioritizing selection of professional sessions over research sessions. Many graduate or doctorial students present the research from their theses. These sessions can be interesting; however, many lack practical application.
• Dividing and conquering in order to gather as much information as possible. Once individuals have selected the top workshops for a time slot, negotiations occur in order to decide who will attend which sessions so the most information can be gathered. 
• Selecting back-up sessions is crucial in case the session selected falls short of expectations. Too much money has been invested to politely remain in a session that doesn’t meeting the attendees needs. 
• Starting early and staying late is the best way to maximize the convention experience. SLPs need 30 hours of Continuing Education Units over a three-year period in order to maintain ASHA’s Clinical Competence Certification (CCC). The three-day ASHA Convention, affords the opportunity to acquire over 20 hours of CEUs.
 
The ASHA conference has provided incomparable benefits. The support provided and the direction taken by ESU 10’s SLPs, school psychologists, and resource specialists has had a profound impact on the students and school staff ESU 10 serves.

Judy Lauby, Speech Services Coordinator