To all the lucky SLPs who will be attending the ASHA Convention next week, WELCOME TO PHILADELPHIA! You’ll be right in my backyard! I can promise that you’ll love the City of Brotherly Love. I’ll be there all three days, and will be doing a poster session on the SETT Process for assistive technology on Friday. While the sessions are generally awesome, I find the most valuable part of the convention is the opportunity to network with SLPs from all over the world — similar to what happens on the SLP Message Center of Speaking of Speech.com, but LIVE and IN PERSON!! I am so looking forward to meeting as many of you as I can!! If you can’t get to the poster session, please keep an eye out for me around Convention Hall and at the Art Museum party, although, at 4’9″ and 100 lbs soaking wet, I can be a little hard to spot in a crowd, ha, ha. That being said, it will be much easier for you to find ME than for me to find YOU, so please come up to say hello, or as we say in Philly, “Yo!”
As a veteran of previous ASHA Conventions, I have a few tips for newbies who are starting to pack for the trip:
- Take your most comfortable shoes!! Really, no one cares if you show up in sneakers. You’ll still be smiling by Saturday, while those with fancy footwear will be sidelined with bunions. And sneakers will give you an advantage as you dash from one session to another. You’ll get there in time to get a seat, but those struggling with heels or boots — or worse, boots with heels! — will be locked out or forced to stand against the wall for the entire session, which won’t be making their feet feel any better for the next dash.
- Get the free Program Planner app right now! Survey the offerings, prioritize those sessions that interest you most, download the handouts, and study the map so you know where you are going next. There’s no time to waste between sessions.
- If you are traveling with colleagues, lucky you! Put your heads together and figure out how to cover the most sessions possible, then take good notes and share them.
- Dress in layers. The ASHA team must have paid off the Weather Channel, because sunny days are forecasted Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with temperatures ranging from around 60 during the day to around 40 at night. That means you are not going to need a winter coat during the day, so leave it at the hotel, use the coat check room at Convention Hall, or leave it at home and layer up with a sweater and jacket if you’ll be going outside a lot. But do be sure to bring a light sweater or jacket into Convention Hall. I’ve been in there when it is freezing and, guaranteed, you’ll find the temps uneven from place to place.
- Empty out your purse of all but the most essential items! You won’t need a pen — you’ll be getting dozens of them in the Exhibit Hall. Tissues, a small bottle of hand sanitizer, your wallet and ID are the basics. And a painkiller, if you didn’t heed my warning in #1. Take your smallest purse and wear it across your body. This reduces back strain and gives you another advantage in the dash to the next session. Backpacks can be a nuisance to stow in crowded session rooms.
- Bring a sheet of address labels. While there are online entries for prizes, you’ll likely be filling out a bunch of raffle entries and postcards for more info. Slapping on your address label will save you time and reduce hand-cramps.
- Bring your appetite! You simply can’t leave Philly without wolfing down at least one Philly cheesesteak, a hoagie, a soft pretzel with mustard, Bassett’s Ice Cream with jimmies, anything from DiBruno’s, and water ice (pronounced “wooder ice”). Many gastronomic delights can be found at the Reading Terminal Market, but be prepared to wait in line. A quicker and just as satisfying solution is to eat at some of Philly’s gourmet food trucks!
- Resist the urge to sign up Philadelphians for artic therapy. Our native son, Bradley Cooper, will help you to understand our regional speech and language.
Looking forward to a wonderful convention!! Wishing you all safe travels!!