2009 ASHA Convention

http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/1372322/2009_ASHA_Convention

Message on Twitter: ASHAconv09 Be sure to pick up an “I Tweet” ribbon for your badge at registration! #asha09. And, I did. Since I tweeted notes throughout the ASHA convention, I proudly wore my ribbon.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention was held Nov. 19-21 in New Orleans, LA for over 10,000 participants. There was plenty to learn in a large exhibit hall, and about 1,700 presentations and poster sessions.

I arrived Wednesday night in New Orleans. I stayed in a house two miles away from the convention center. Luckily, there was a great $1.25 streetcar ride to the convention center each day. It was a fantastic way to encounter some of New Orleans culture.

On Thursday and Friday mornings, I worked at the AssistiveWare booth. I worked with others to demonstrate Proloquo2Go, an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) solution for the iPhone and iPod touch. As always, I enjoyed working with the developers, Samuel Sennott and David Niemeijer. It was also great showing Proloquo2Go to many people who had not heard of it.

Aside from working, I went to some great ASHA sessions. I attended a couple sessions for AAC, one by Jessica Gosnell, and the other by Pati King-DeBaun. Jessica talked about selecting motivating AAC vocabulary that is personalized, uses core and fringe vocabulary, and lends itself to reciprocal communication. Pati King-Debaun talked about building AAC competence by teaching social, literacy, and linguistic skills. She mentioned that one of the ways to begin is by using the individual’s device to model.

Samuel Sennott presented a session for iPhone and iPod touch applications. He was very entertaining as he discussed and demonstrated apps including Barbecue, Proloquo2Go, Mixmeister, Wheels on the Bus, Time Timer, Delayed Auditory Feedback, and more. Sam was very generous to talk about my experience using Proloquo2Go with a student, and about my application, Percentally. One of the things I learned in the session was how to create articulation cards using the iPhone camera and iPhoto for the iPod touch. At the end of the session, Sam invited the owners of SmallTalk and iPrompts to demonstrate their applications. It was very cool to see how Sam was so inclusive of the other companies, stating that we’re all in this together.

The last session that I attended was for assessment and treatment of selective mutism (SM). It was interesting to hear about various forms of SM: anxious + mildly oppositional, exclusively anxious, anxious + communication disorder. I learned that SM occurs more frequently in girls than boys, and the episodes occur typically outside of their home and parents’ vicinity. For treatment, I learned about an approach that transitions from non-verbal to verbal communication. Non-verbal communication techniques can include writing, AAC, and gesturing. The transition to verbal communication utilizes a hierarchy that progresses from whispering to sounds, words, rhymes, phrases, and eventually to conversation.

Before and after convention hours, it was great experiencing the French Market and French Quarter. One morning in the French Market, I ate a heavenly thing called beignets, french doughnuts with powdered sugar. During a couple nights, I visited the French Quarter, where the famous Bourbon St. is located. I had dinner with friends, enjoying Chicken Oscar one evening, and a delicious steak the other evening. When walking around the French Quarter, I saw really cool live entertainment. My favorite was a guy tap dancing. The interesting part is that he didn’t use tap shoes; he used the bottom of aluminum cans. He attached the can pieces to the bottom of his shoes to tap dance as he clapped his hands. The entertainment and food was truly amazing.

Overall, I had a great time experiencing New Orleans and ASHA for the first time. I’m looking forward to attending ASHA next year.

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