CASANA is the national Apraxia organization. They have recently changed their name to Apraxia Kids.
Attending the two conferences I did was incredible, and taught me so much! Here is how the conferences ran:
The first day started in the afternoon, giving the attendees time to arrive and get settled. It began with a meet and greet, and I got to know several other parents and lecturers. After the meet and greet, we picked up our schedules for the next couple days, and went to the keynote.
The keynote in Tennessee was my favorite. It was about promoting resilience in children with special needs. The keynote in Texas was geared toward researchers, and most of it was over my head.
After the keynote, there were drinks and appetizers in the hotel lobby, so everyone hung out and talked about Apraxia and introduced our kids. One thing I really liked was that on our lanyards, there was our name and a picture of our child with CAS.
Quick breakfast in the hotel lobby, then off to classes! You register for which classes you wanted to attend ahead of time, and I picked ones about working with your child at home, making therapy fun, advocating for your child, and a plethora of others.
My favorite classes were the ones on making therapy fun and engaging, and then anything taught by Dave Hammer or Nancy Kaufman. They are both incredible speakers, and I took so many notes that my hand was cramped for days!
Lunch was provided between classes, and another thing I really liked about the conference was that they had "topic tables", so once you got your food, then you would go find a table that interested you. So one table was for IEPs, another for "Dads of CAS kids", another for potty training, or homeschooling, or teens with CAS. It was so relieving to find like-minded parents that had the same concerns.
There were also tables with vendors all around, and I found some amazing resources! I talked with the PROMPT Institute and was able to organize a training in my state, got videos on how to work with kids with CAS, books, and lots of great things!
One table that was really interesting was "The SLP is in". You needed to sign up for a time in advance, but it was free, and there was an apraxia boot camp trained SLP there, and the parent could ask anything and everything in their allotted 15 minutes.
That evening, dinner was on your own, then they did some kind of activity- a rodeo in Texas, karaoke in Tennessee, just something to have fun.
The final day followed the same format at the second, with classes all day. Some classes were geared towards parents, others toward researchers or SLPs. When registering, all the classes were color coded, to let people know if it was a beginning/ advanced parent class, or a beginning/ advanced professionals class.
There are scholarships available, and I was awarded one for my first conference. The application was pretty easy, and they prefer to give scholarships to new parents or those parents who put in a lot of volunteer time to the Apraxia Kids organization- heading up walks to fundraise for research, etc.
They held a raffle for a "Lunch with Lecturers", where you could buy raffle tickets to have one of the presenters all to yourself for the lunch hour, and ask anything you wanted. I didn't get drawn, but the parents who did said it was amazing!
After all the classes were over, we filled out surveys about our experiences with the conference- what we did/ didn't like, where we want a conference held in the future, topics we want addressed, etc.
The final thing we did before leaving back home was go to a panel about teenagers who have overcome CAS. Don't go unless you have water proof mascara on! I am not a crier, but I bawled when the kids up there, whose parents were told it was unlikely that they would ever communicate, spoke about their experiences learning how to talk.