The Penny

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

[Wednesday, November 24, 2010]

I Learned So Much!

I went to the ASHA Convention, which is for speech-language pathologists and audiologists (OK, mainly for SLPs). They have seminars, poster sessions where people present research and you wander around chatting with them, info sessions for masters and doctoral programs, vendor booths with tons of free junk (pens, bags, lip balm--I got a pen/bubble wand for my selective mute kiddo), ummm... career fair... just lots of stuff. I was mainly interested in the seminars/classes and the doctoral program information.

This year the conference was in Philadelphia, which I had never been to before. Never touched.

I learned three things at the convention:
1. I hate Philadelphia. I didn't mean to... it just happened.
2. I miss interacting with brilliant people.
3. I MUST get a doctorate.

Yes, it's a must. So now I'm looking at PhD programs. It stinks, because you can't really choose where you're going to go, like hm, I enjoy Maryland, I'll just go to University of Maryland. Uh-uh. You have to go where there is someone doing research in your area of interest. One of my areas of interest is phonology, and the phonology guru is at Wichita State. That's in Kansas! My understanding is that they don't have a beach there.

I actually met said guru at the conference. Totally unexpected.

I was in the poster hall, and one caught my eye, something about phonological errors of cochlear implant users. As the young master's student was explaining her thesis to me, I noticed the other name on the poster: PHONOLOGY GURU. Well, actually, her name is Barbara Hodson. Whoa, Dr. Hodson was your mentor for this project? I looked at the name tags of everyone who looked over age 50 and lo and behold, she was right nearby! Of course I had to accost her and babble on about how much I love her work, that I use her phonology program all the time. She hugged me.

So I have one contact in the academic world. I mean, besides the BYU faculty. But BYU doesn't have a doctoral program in my field, so that's not an option. Y'all know how I feel about Utah, but I'd probably choose it over Kansas. It's the devil I know.

Hopefully I can find a program somewhere that I won't totally hate, but even if I don't, it's only for four years.

I went to a lot of seminars on auditory processing, which was great. I learned so much! I went to one on motor speech disorders, only because my favorite BYU professor, the best teacher in the whole wide world, Dr. Dromey, was one of the presenters. I took down some "DromeyQuotes" for my friend Rachelle. We used to write down the acerbic, very British things he says--think Hugh Grant humor. Or whoever writes for Hugh Grant. Here are a couple for you:
-Now you're thinking, "My larynx doesn't make yogurt."
-We'll blame those vocal folds for not doing the honorable thing.

A woman presenting in the same session as Dr. Dromey was also kind of funny. I took down a quote from her:
-This can make your life more blissful or miserable. I'm always on the side of bliss.

I guess you have to realize that the words surrounding these quotes include hyolaryngeal, dysarthric, obturator, musculature, hypokinetic, nasalance, prosthedontic, formant frequencies, articulatory specification, and vocal tract configurations. Blogger's spell checker doesn't think half of those words even exist. Then someone starts saying how the larynx makes plain yogurt... refreshing. The idea, not yogurt. The bliss quote was in the context of considerations for palatal lift recommendations for patients with velopharyngeal port incompetence. Now you're thinking I'm crazy for even saying that I enjoyed the conference. Really, I did.

I went to several sessions on cochlear implants/aural habilitation. One presentation absolutely blew AVT out of the water. It was fantastic. And I saw a stupid AVT from Johns Hopkins there, who recommended not signing with a newly implanted SEVEN YEAR OLD whose family DOESN'T SPEAK ENGLISH. And who had only been signing for a year (do the math... that's right, no language until nearly age six). When we asked how we would educate the child without being able to communicate with him, she said that listening skills were more important than education. Hopefully she took in some of what that session was saying.

One other session was on differential diagnosis (figuring out what's wrong) of cochlear implant kids who have other problems. They're implanting kids so early that they don't know what challenges the child is going to face in addition to deafness. They also don't know who is going to be successful with listening and spoken language. This was from the AVTs at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Interesting (and sad): CHOP doesn't implant unless they think the person will develop spoken language. If they think the person will need to use sign language, they won't do the surgery. I guess they wouldn't have implanted my seven year old international student. Even with their stringent criteria for implantation, and given intensive AVT (auditory verbal therapy--teaching deaf kids to listen and not use any lipreading), only 25% of kids become "primarily listening and spoken language" kids. Fifty percent use listening and lipreading. Twenty-five percent use listening and lipreading but primarily sign language. Hm, so one out of four kids who they thought would become a good listener and who had intensive AVT ended up using primarily sign language... wouldn't those kids be so far behind in ASL development by the time they begin it that they'll always struggle in school? I don't even want to think about it. And I was surprised that only 25% end up being AVT poster children. The session did have a lot of useful information, and I was glad I went.

The whole conference as a whole was very enjoyable to me. I took copious notes and am now happier in my job, knowing that the world is much bigger than the insanity currently surrounding me. This too shall pass, and I will be on to bigger and better things, like teaching at a university. It's going to happen.


Post a Comment