NDSC 14: The Conference Information Post

* I want to write down some of this while it’s still fresh, get it out before too much time passes and then I never will. *

The NDSC has a Conference annually. During this, they cram in as many sessions and speakers as possible, and have a Kids Camp available as a childcare option. I’m going to talk a little about it all in this post, strictly talking from my own experience as a first-time conference attendee.


Kids Camp

I thought the Kids Camp was making the best with what they had. It was not optimal since they were working from a conference room, but hey, what else could they do? I don’t have any suggestions, so I won’t complain.

  • It’s staffed by volunteers, older youth and parents, and there was a very healthy ratio of volunteer/to number of children.
  • I don’t know the screening system whereby the volunteers are okay’d by the NDSC for childcare, but it felt like a good bunch of people
  • There is a check out and in system that felt safe to me.
  • The kids are grouped according to age

Moxie only attended once – that once was the time she said she was okay with me leaving. I am simply not capable of leaving any of my kids with strangers when my kid is uncomfortable with me not being there. Even when the strangers are very kind, very sweet.

I let her stay with me, either jumping around or tethered to Dora the Explorer via kindle/headphones.

Information from the NDSC 14

Given the parameters of my ability: Moxie with me, my jetlag, sensory overload and my own deafness, we soaked as much up at the convention as we could.

We did not attend every session, nor did we attend sessions in every time slot. But we went to what we could and I’d like to share some of the key points that I got out of the sessions – for those of you that attended, I’d love to hear what you got out of your sessions too –


Okay, these workshops were brilliant. For those of you who attended, the Technology workshop is on page 116 of your compodium but there isn’t anything there – so the link to the site with all the information on it is:


What it was about

photo 2The technology workshop was about tapping into various forms of technology to help our kids in the classroom. The speaker, Dr. Sean Smith, gave examples of how his son used technology – videos, mp3, screen recording – to create reports for his teachers and show his learning. Sean talked about making things easy for the teachers – creating direct tiny url’s for them, making it as simple as possible for the teacher to tune in and tap on.

What I really liked what that he included links to EVERYTHING he was talking about – and again, it’s all here – http://tinyurl.com/dscongress

The App Smackdown

This seemed like it was supposed to be a combo of a lecture and a group sharing. I would have loved for that to be a longer session because the group sharing was awesome but so was the lecture. There just wasn’t enough time.

Mother’s Sharing Group

I attended the Mother’s Sharing Group for kids aged 4-8. It was packed. A small room, filled to the brim with motherly bodies set in a big circle.

I think it was a great theory – big circle, see each other’s faces, etc – but the reality was that there were simply too many people to really open up. It was a session for the people who were bold enough to come out and talk, the extroverted and those with issues pressing enough to overcome their shyness if that was an issue.

So… yeah. I think it could have been done better. Smaller groups with rotating topics? Smaller groups that would go through an experiential activity and then connect on a harder topic? I’m not sure. But “smaller groups” definitely seems like it would be more effective than larger.


I gotta wonder: what is it about having a movie about some component of disability AND NOT HAVING IT CAPTIONED?!!! It makes me think of pre-1960’s movies about African Americans in which the African Americans were not allowed into the theatre to view the movies.

I mean, come ON, you guys!! Captions are not just for us deaf; it helps people who don’t speak English as a first language, it helps people who are visually (- not auditorily) oriented, it helps people with brain injury – and the list goes on. You gotta get WITH THIS SHIP; slap on the captions, it’s simply not cool to say it’s too hard or whatever it is you are saying when you don’t do it.

Among the movies, I went to the Justice for Ethan raw-cut documentary, expecting something Michael-Moore-ish, but what I took in was a piece that was deeply moving in some places (- like the caregiver’s account of what happened) and an eyebrow-raising WTH?? in others – the film was spinning the NDSS role like they were on it, really raising the troops – when my memory of it as a blogger and community activist was that us bloggers had to band together, hold 24/7 twitter parties, blog writing rampages, and were nabbing the NDSS right and left to hold them accountable for what their mission states that they do – and in the case of Ethan Saylor, they failed miserably.

The documentary also did not explore the pieces of off-duty cops moonlighting (there was a fantastic post a while ago, written by a nurse who explains why off duty nurses are not allowed to work in a comparable capacity), about the case being swept under the rug by the cops in the first place. Oh no. It simply went ‘rah-rah, NDSS! YAY!’ and then moved on over to the importance of training cops better.

I left right about then because I didn’t have my interpreters with me, I wasn’t absolutely sure I was hearing everything correctly, and I also was afraid I’d blow up from getting so pissed off with what I knew I was hearing.

photo 5Other Workshops:

The other workshops I attended were thoroughly covered in the Compendium. I LOVE THAT!! So awesome to have the complete workshop outlined and ready to take home. YES!

In summary

This Convention is expensive but I think it’s very worthwhile. I give it high marks because they addressed pretty much everything that a parent would want to learn about: sexuality with teens, behavioral issues, reading/writing/math learning, communication, Autism/Down syndrome and so much more. The workshops were well designed for the most part, they covered the whole spectrum from birth-adult.

I did not attend all the things that I wanted to.

I really wanted to meet more adults with Down syndrome and form some friendships. I also wanted to meet more of the Latino Down syndrome component, the Amish and the people who were obviously from other countries. I wish there had been some sort of opportunity to meet and share cross-cultural perspectives of Down syndrome (and disability) without having to go up to someone and poke their shoulder…

…and I wanted to dance more – couldn’t because Moxie went nuts with the balloons. I wanted to talk more with everyone I met, I wanted to attend some more sessions – like Jennifer Bekin’s Speech Therapy Session, the Sing! Play! Learn one too. Among others. There were some really good-looking sessions out there.

Most of all though, I wanted a space outside set for those of us who get sensory overload or who have to lipread – given that many people with Down syndrome also have sensory overload or hearing impairment, it seemed like a basic access piece that was missing.

Last note on deaf access:

NDSC provided me with interpreters for all of the sessions. I simply would not have been able to cope without them. They were AWESOME. Big high-five to NDSC for that, and for making it so painless for me. Seriously, that was fantastic.

photo 3

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is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E).
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  • So this was my first NDSC convention as well. I got to meet you and the famous Moxie, so that was exciting, even if it was just a quick hello. 🙂 I came by myself because of finances and also because I wanted to have time to learn and talk with people. My son is a great kid, but he’s also almost 3, and doesn’t sit still very well. However, I was really impressed with the number of people who came with their young kids – and I love that kids were allowed to be in all of the sessions. I’ve been to other conferences that did not allow children to attend or participate, and I felt that this was a very welcoming event. I focused on inclusion, speech and literacy because those are our family’s current concerns/issues. Enjoyed every session! Some were more hands-on, clear directions and examples – things I could put into practice right away. Other sessions (Libby Kumin) were more research-oriented and discussed the science of how people learn/read/speak. Fascinating – but I’m going to have to listen to them again online because my brain was so full of information, I just stopped taking it in. I’m an extrovert, so my favorite part was talking to people. I decided that I was going to take every opportunity to meet people – and I did. I ended up skipping all the main events (Friday night, keynote Saturday and banquet) so that I could spend more time talking one on one with people. I didn’t go to the exhibits until Sunday, and some had already packed up. I felt like a total fan-girl – got to meet people that I’ve been following on blogs or facebook for a while – Natalie Hale, Sandra McElwee and Sean, Rachel Mast, lots and lots of bloggers. I wish there had been more sharing sessions (or smaller sharing sessions) – the 0-3 group was good, but large. I was glad I went.

  • One of the highlights of this conference, my fourth, was meeting you, Moxie, and so many others. You are as genuine as your writing and that is always a bonus! Every conference I come away with information, motivation and a general feeling of “you’re doing OK”. Loved your take on it, too!

  • I really hope to make it to one these soon. It does seem like a wonderful experience.
    Very disappointing about the Ethan Saylor movie though. I sure was hoping for more. :/

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