For me, continuing education is everything. Although grad school gives us a good idea of what is out there in the world of Speech-Language Pathology, it by no means teaches us everything we’ll need to know to be the best clinicians we can be. Our field is so broad and we, as SLPs, have the opportunity to find our passion and fine tune our skill sets. This is why continuing education is so important. There is always so much to learn, as the literature in our field grows vastly and if you’re implementing principles from 5 years ago, chances are you’re already far behind!
As an SLP, I work a lot with kids who have Motor Speech Disorders, but had never attended a CASANA (Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America) conference. I had already seen some of the speakers in the past; however the thought of all the CAS experts in one place at one time was very exciting to me! Admittedly, I’m quite the speech nerd. I bring speech books with me when I go on vacation. Enough said.
So, I know how these things typically go… You have your shining stars, the guru’s we all know and have come to love. The ones that we’ve learned countless therapy techniques from and those that have come up with the protocols we may use on a day to day basis. To hear these speakers again is always a bonus! Then there are those mystery speakers, some of whom you may have never heard of before, and you wonder about what they may have to offer. You decide to attend their talks because you’re interested in their topics. You wonder, “Will this be worthwhile?”, knowing very well what you’ve given up to come!
CASANA offered so many different sessions that the only drawback for me was that I had to choose between some of them! There were times when I really didn’t know how to pick between 2 or even 3 different presenters. An old colleague and friend of mine said to me “just sit for 5 minutes and then you can always leave”… I could never leave. Each and every speaker was so engaging and so interesting to listen to that I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving and missing any detail. Every speaker I saw quickly became a new speech idol! That’s when you know you definitely made the right choice in attending a conference! I listened carefully to each speaker and was in awe of the work they do, the ideas they have, the facility they work at, the people they work with, and of course their mutual devotion and passion to the kids.
Something very unique to the CASANA conference that I want to point out isthe ratio of parents to SLPs. I think it was almost 50:50. I’ve never seen this before, and it was amazing. Parents of kids with CAS are unbelievable! Not only that, but I was astounded at how child-friendly the conference was and how well CASANA catered to these families who struggle every day to do the very best for their children. CASANA does a remarkable job in helping professionals and families build a strong community to support children with CAS.
The final session really drove this exact point home. It was presented by Jennifer Keefe, Danny Keefe’s mom. Surprisingly (maybe because I don’t watch TV), I had never heard Danny’s story before. Let me tell you, I was fighting back the tears! If you haven’t heard Danny’s story, check it out below. Danny’s story is one of courage and triumph that can give us all inspiration and motivation to help children meet their fullest potential. From start to finish, I felt the whole CASANA experience was absolutely wonderful! I would encourage professionals, and parents alike to attend this conference next year!
Lauren Reznick M.S. CCC-SLP, Reg. CASLPO is a private Speech-Language Pathologist in the Greater GTA region with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her energies are focussed on helping children with special motor, sensory, and mealtime challenges. Her areas of special interest include; Childhood Apraxia of Speech, oral-motor development, oral placement techniques, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and early language development. Lauren has received an award from the American Speech and Language Association in recognition of her exceptional commitment to her continuing professional education. She consults with children from all over the world, providing evaluations, re-evaluations, program plans and therapy programs. In addition to her private practice, Lauren Reznick Therapy Services, Lauren also consults to various local programs and organizations, including the TPAS and ABA services and intensive treatment programs at Aisling Discoveries Child and Family Centre.