By Leslie Lindsay
I didn’t go. At least not this year. But I have been to a National CASANA conference. And it was quite an experience.
My daughter had been diagnosed with CAS for a little over a year when I made the committment to, “throw my hat” into the CAS world. I was a bit reluctant at first to attend a conference. After all, I wasn’t working (what would I wear? can we afford this?), and I wasn’t really sure if it would benefit me or my daughter. Didn’t she need me at home, anyway?!
But I went. And I loved it. Prior to the conference, I had gone on-line and printed out all of the course syllabi’s, popped into a delicious-smelling binder and flagged them. I am a
nerd student at heart.
But I will admit, it was overwhelming. Each day was a learning experience–faces, names, presentations–well they all began to blur. Things I heard got me excited, others made me want to cry and hide under the table. But I pressed forward, asking questions, introducing myself, reviewing poster presenations, sliding pamphlets and brochures into my bag. And when I left the conference, I was filled with new knowledge.
But it sat for a good week or more before I could touch it again.
When you’re ready, here’s a list of suggestions for making the most of your post-conference experience:
- If you made contacts, or promised an email, connect within about 2 weeks. Keep the subject line as something like “CASANA conference”
- Sort through your “goodies.” Make piles: “To do” (call, look into), “Notes”, “Resources,” toss/recycle/give away all of the extraneous stuff you thought you might need but don’t really.
- Send a follow-up note or email to someone who really made your experience matter. If it was a presentor, another participant, someone from CASANA…they will appreciate it. A lot.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you feel you haven’t done “all you can” for your child with CAS. This is a journey. It takes time. This conference was just a stop on the journey.
- Help educate others in your family about CAS.
- Help educate your child’s school
- Hold a meeting or gathering of some friends you met (or knew before, but also attended the confernece). Have it at your home, a coffee shop, a park. Compare notes. Talk about what you liked/didn’t like. Share your experiences.
Realize that by attending a conference like this, you did the best thing you could do for your child with CAS: you learned more. Go you!!