Wow, what an exciting way to close out 2017! We hosted our 42nd annual conference in Atlanta, GA last month. Over 700 attendees from 42 states and five countries (including Guam and Japan) gathered at the 52-story Atlanta Marriott Marquis. (Fun Fact: Scenes from the movies Manhunter, Flight, and The Hunger Games were filmed there!)
We kicked off the conference with our Wednesday Workshops! This year, we added a new track to our Wednesday Workshop schedule that focused on policies and practices behind employment. This track attracted many attendees, as it included our conference’s Most Popular Presentation: College and Career Readiness: What Are the Critical Dimensions for Youth with Severe Disabilities? A special thank you to Stephanie Mahal, Mary Morningstar, Hatice Uyanik, and Jingrong Xie for presenting such valuable information. We concluded the day with popcorn and our annual Film Festival, showing Mr. Connolly Has ALS, Unspoken (TASH’s 2017 Positive Images in the Media Award winner), The Rainman Effect, and i go home.
This year, TASH was honored to have Rud and Ann Turnbull join us as our opening keynote speakers. Heartfelt, motivating, and humorous, Rud and Ann wowed the crowd with their Ten Truths from 150 (or 200) Years of Our Lives presentation. The presentation will be available on our Youtube channel soon. Following Rud and Ann’s keynote presentation, breakout sessions ensued. During lunch, we hosted a series of Let’s Connect Luncheons. Attendees were able to choose from the following six mini-luncheon topics: Communications Access, Employment, Families and Siblings, Human Rights, Inclusive Education, and Self-Advocacy. We concluded the day of breakout sessions with a networking reception and our poster presentations. Congratulations to the following poster presentations for winning our 2017 Poster Presentation Awards:
- A Literature Review of Studies Involving Paraprofessional-Implemented Systematic Instruction (Karen Douglas, Sarah Douglas, Rebecca Kammes, and Virginia Walker)
- Employment Skills in Motion: The Use of Video-Based Instruction to Promote Employment-Related Social Behaviors for High School Students with Severe Intellectual Disability (Carly Gilson)
- I’m at the Center (Jesse Luca, Clay Stone, and Paul Tinker)
Thursday evening we hosted our first annual Sock Hop Dance! Attendees danced the night away with DJ Bernard Baker. It was a blast! Prior to the dance, TASH sold socks to conference attendees to raise money for the Self-Advocacy Committee. Thanks to our customers, we raised over $1,000. This money will be put toward travel expenses to help self-advocates travel to Washington, DC for their annual committee meeting.
Friday morning, we hosted our annual TASH Talks, where conference chair, Robin Blount, chose presenters at random to present 8-10 minute talks. This year, we moved our membership meeting to lunchtime. Members gathered in the grand ballroom, enjoyed a delicious plated lunch, and congratulated our 2017 Award Winners. We concluded the day and the conference with a closing keynote presentation from Kimberly Richey, the Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). She highlighted OSERS 2018 priorities and left conference attendees feeling hopeful!
TASH would like to extend a huge thank you to all who attended the 2017 annual conference. We’d like to thank our conference sponsors, exhibitors, volunteers, and planning committee for their dedication to TASH and our mission. Cheers to a successful conference and a reinvigorating new year!