I am so excited to introduce my very first guest blogger, Giana Corrado, MS, CCC-SLP of Speech and Learning Institute in North Palm Beach, Florida! You might also know her from @missgspeechtherapy on instagram! Giana and I have known each other since graduate school and she is a fabulous clinician!
I begged her to keep me posted on the "goings-on" at this year's ASHA convention in LA, since I was unable to attend. Here's what she had to say:
Hi everyone! I’m so thrilled my lovely friend Krista asked me to write a guest blog post for the month of November about my experience at the ASHA 2017 convention in Los Angeles! First, a little intro about me. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore in 2012. I then ventured down the Sunshine State to attend Nova Southeastern University to complete my Master’s degree, where I met Krista! She has been such a great resource/friend to have over the years. I currently work at a private practice called the Speech and Learning Institute in North Palm Beach. I completed my CF there and received my C’s in April 2017. I mainly work with the pediatric population and my specific interests include children with Autism, as well as language delayed preschoolers/early intervention.
Now, on to the conference! This was my second year attending. I think I enjoyed it more this year, now that I’ve been working in the field for a year and a half. I had a better idea of which sessions I wanted to attend, and what I wanted to expand my knowledge on. One of the sessions that caught my eye from the get-go while browsing through the program planner 2 weeks before (so Type A, I know) was a session called “Infants and Children Prenatally Exposed to Drugs: Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes.” Now, while I do not work in the NICU with babies who are born addicted and are currently withdrawing, I do have several clients on my caseload who were born addicted and are now school-aged. These kids are still dealing with the life-long issues that come with this territory. Therefore, I wanted to expand my knowledge on this very specific group.
It was eye-opening to learn about the effects on communication as well as cognition/behavior which I see in my clients every day. Some of these include: significantly lower scores on a variety of language assessments, difficulties with attention and behavior, and the number one effect, which I think stands out the most: ADHD. At birth, it makes sense that a baby’s neurological system is over-stimulated; it’s essentially in over-drive from the withdrawal. But....these effects are long-lasting, and according to the presenters, ADHD symptoms start to show up around 5 years old. So, if you have a child on your caseload who seems to present with severe ADHD at a young age, take a look through the medical history and see if they suffered from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. It’s important to note that I don’t just mean a “hyper” kid; I’m talking about a constant need to be moving or fidgeting (rocking in chairs, biting pencils.) Truly an inability to sit and attend to a task. As these children reach their teen years, you’re looking at problems with perceptual reasoning, abstract reasoning, and problem solving. Executive function skills can be seriously compromised for this group. While the presentation did not focus on specific therapeutic interventions for this population, I feel as if I received enough information about what areas of language need to be targeted and therefore I can come up with my own activities based on that.
Of course everyone’s favorite part of ASHA is walking around the exhibit hall and seeing how much money they can spend/save on materials. Although I made out like a bandit at Super Duper, I also came across a newer (and smaller) company that sold some AWESOME materials. It’s called Speech Corner, and it’s out of Arizona (http://www.speechcorner.com). They have similar products to Super Duper, especially their expansive collection of card decks for various language and articulation goals. My favorite product that I purchased from them is called the Vocabulary Treasure Trove. It’s basically a box filled with multiple card decks for higher-level language and vocab (antonyms, synonyms, multiple meaning, context clues.) So nice to have everything in one box and not have to print out a million worksheets for my school-aged clients! Check out their products, I promise you will not be disappointed!
Well, I could write on forever but I think I’ll stop here! Hope everyone who read this got some good insight into this year’s convention! I’m definitely looking forward to next year’s in Boston (although not the cold!)