Children’s Autism Services of Edmonton/CASLPA 4th Annual Autism Conference – Jan. 13-15, 2011

Disclaimer: it is EMBARRASSING how long this post has been sitting in my drafts folder. 

To say that I was excited to attend this conference would be an understatement. I was especially excited to get the chance to hear Temple Grandin speak. We all began gathering in the lobby at 7:30 am…I didn’t mind being there so early because I wanted a good seat. There were over 800 people registered to hear Temple’s keynote address and she did not disappoint us. I couldn’t believe that the first person I saw when I walked in was Temple. She was seated and autographing copies of her books. I quickly got in line to buy one and I got her autograph. I managed to get a great seat and even got to sit with 2 Special Education teachers from 2 of the schools I serve . The three of us were enthralled! (OK mostly me, but they totally humored me.)  The only thing that disappointed me about her talk was that we didn’t get a copy of her presentation slides in our handouts. (She said it was, “all in her books.”  Girlfriend has A LOT of books y’all.)  The following are a few quotes that I found in my many scribbled notes:

“My mind works like google images.”

“I learned ALL concepts using specific examples.”

“Some kids you can open from front, others you have to sneak in the back.”

“Kids need consistent discipline at home and at school – same rules both places!”

This is my only picture of my bestie Temple that wasn’t blurry

The afternoon of the first day seemed dry by comparison to some people, only because everyone was so excited for the morning. (That and we had been up so early.) I was still excited to meet someone so famous in the field of Speech Pathology and I was glad I had another work friend at my table. We were ready to hear Lori Frost; Lori Frost is the creator of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) and her presentation was on the “Top Ten 10 Myths of PECS.” I wish it had included more information about utilizing the PECS system but I guess she still wants people to attend PECS workshops. The main takeaway message I got was that PECS isn’t boring and that all picture systems are not PECS. Following Ms. Frost was PECS research information presented by Julie Koudys. She was extremely excited about PECS. I was surprised to learn that the population from her study came from Saskatchewan, near Regina. (I thought it interesting since she was from out east.) I think it was hard for some people to focus on her presentation because she was at the end of a long day, following very famous speakers (not me tho, cuz I’m an AMAZING listener.)

Lori Frost is my homegirl

I spent the final two days of the conference listening to Amy Weatherby.  I particularly loved all the video clips Amy Weatherby showed, providing concrete examples of autism. She seems to show great respect for technology, and even said, “I think iPads are going to revolutionize things for children and adults.” I was glad she even gave us recommendations for all the great speech and language therapy applications that are available for iPad and iTouch. She provided a  link to the FREE autism video glossary.  She also provided a link to her website, which has diagnostic checklists and information for parents and professionals.

I cropped the part where we were holding hands.

I am incredibly thankful that my work sent me to this conference (ALL EXPENSES PAID…HOLLA!)  It was amazing to be there with my colleagues and to learn from leaders in the field.  I met many other SLP’s (and a CASLPA employee) and I had an all around marvelous time. *throws confetti and spins around*