Nate and I got back last night from the National Stuttering Association's Annual Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. It was the first conference we attended, and we had an amazing time.
I have attended various business conferences in the past, but I have to say that the group of people we met at the stuttering conference were some of the nicest, kindest and warmest people I have ever met at a conference! It was 3 1/2 days of smiles and friendly greetings.
The conference welcomes all ages -- from kids who stutter through adults who stutter and those who love people who stutter. I was extremely impressed that there were workshops and sessions catering to everyone's different needs and interests.
Throughout the conference, there were sessions set up for the kids ages 7 - 12, as well as teens. Nate got to meet a cowboy and his horse, practice his roping skills, learn how to juggle, and tons more! While he was in these sessions, I was able to choose from sessions geared specifically to parents, or I could attend sessions geared to adults who stutter or sessions presented by researchers and those who work with people who stutter. I was a bit overwhelmed by all the choices, but I was grateful that there were so many choices!!
It was interesting to be in groups of parents whose children stutter (and also may stutter themselves), but the research-lover in me also loved being able to learn about the research being done in the stuttering community. As an added bonus, we also had the amazing opportunity to listen to David Seidler (Oscar-winning screenwriter of "The King's Speech) and were even able to get his autograph. (more on his speech in a later post and also some of the things I learned)
Nate and I arrived in Texas a day and 1/2 before registration and had the chance to wander around Fort Worth and enjoy the sights. While the conference was wonderful and I hope we can attend as an entire family next year in Tampa -- I think my favorite part was spending 6 days with Nate one-on-one. We ate out, talked a TON, enjoyed exploring the streets around the hotel, and watching shows about guns, cars, and insects (just like books - he prefers his television to be non-fiction.) It was an extremely special experience to spend all that time with just one of my children and get to know him a little better than before.
Before leaving for Texas, Nate knew he wanted a pair of cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. On our first day there, he found both and was thrilled. He's trying to put on his tough cowboy face in the picture above, but trust me when I tell you his face was more often broken into a wide grin during our visit.
A couple people recognized Nate from his YouTube videos, and while he tried to act humble, I know it thrilled him. When we talked about the conference, he did say to me "I didn't really learn anything about stuttering -- but it was cool to meet so many people who stuttered!"
I think that's what the conference is all about. The chance to be in a room filled with others that are like you in a pretty significant way. The NSA conference made that happen, and they did it wonderfully.