Monday, April 7, 2014

Thoughts from the NCSHLA conference....

If I had to sum up the NCSHLA conference in just one word, I would not hesitate to say AMAZING. I hope that my district will continue to send us to the conference for many years to come because every class taught me something new. 
The site of the conference.
I was very fortunate enough to attend two courses on English Language Learners by Dr. Roseberry-McKibbon. The first was a short course on non-biased assessments and the second focused on therapy strategies. As a monolingual therapist in a high poverty school with about an 80% ELL population, I feel like these two sessions were probably the most important ones that I attended (though all of the sessions were good). The information is practical and feasible even in the school setting. One tip that has really stuck out to me, is the relationship between non-sense word fluency scores and language impairment. I had never heard of that. There is no way I could ever write a post that would do even a half-way decent job of describing these awesome presentations (so I won't), but I highly recommend going to see her if you have the opportunity. 

I attended several presentations related to Autism Spectrum Presentations:

-Targeting Facial Expression
-Behavioral Skill Development in Autism Spectrum Disorders
-Improving Social Communication Skills in Children with Autism

I loved them all for different reasons, but my favorite was the one on Targeting Facial Expressions. I loved how the speaker broke down what is seemingly a very difficult task into something much simpler based on the current research. She recommended Paul Ekman & Wallace Friesen's book: Unmasking the Face. It's definitely on my To-Read list. 

Did you know that we have six main facial expressions? 
  1. Happiness
  2. Sadness
  3. Fear
  4. Disgust
  5. Anger
  6. Surprise
You can even take a baseline and track a client's performance with making these six expressions by focusing on the three "zones" of the face (the upper zone, middle zone, and lower zone). It does require the use of a camera (either digital or on a tablet). Tablets are probably a better method because you can set it up to where the client can make the facial expressions on video with the automatic visual feedback.

The other sessions I attended were a mixture of different topics ranging from 25 Timeless Tips for Supervision to TBI in Pediatrics. I loved how many options were available even though it was a state conference. Kudos to NCSHLA for all of their hard work on making this conference such a great experience! 

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