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In OT, we talk about occupations as activities that are personally meaningful to an individual. While it would make sense to say that pregnancy is a time that is rich with meaning, I never really would have thought to label it as an occupation.

Until now.

Now that I myself am pregnant, I am finding that it is the most meaningful occupation in which I have ever participated. It’s kind of like being pregnant is an occupation in and of itself, and then there are all sorts of occupations related to being pregnant that also qualify.

I am at the 13-week mark (due August 7th) and have already collected three strips of ultrasound photos, so I decided to buy a baby book — one of the most exciting purchases I’ve ever made! The occupation of “baby booking” will soon occupy some of the time that I should probably spend studying. Oh well.

In addition to getting a baby book in which to store memories, I have acquired a couple of baby-related books. One is the good ol’ What to expect when you’re expecting. The other is a book on natural childbirth (Ina May’s book on childbirth), something that terrifies yet lures me all at the same time. This occupation of reading also occupies some of my free time, and I’m sure will crank up a notch as the big day gets closer.

Being pregnant has also fast become a popular topic of conversation. As a 2nd year OT student in her last semester of school, I am constantly surrounded by awesome girls who have yet to experience this roller coaster of an occupation. Every day they ask me questions: what is it like? how do you feel? what are you craving? how big is the baby now? Those questions and conversations have almost become an occupation in and of themselves! But it’s great, because I love to teach people and I love to share information, and this is such a great and natural way to be able to do that.

I look forward to the adventures that are sure to lie in front of me!

 

For the past 5 months, I have been doing a 3-day-a-week internship at a fantastic pediatric therapy clinic in Pasadena as I finish up my last year of OT school. This clinic has around 30 amazing therapists on staff — occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech therapists. I have had the opportunity to observe a multitude of clinicians, from newbies to veterans, as they demonstrate to me what it means to be a good pediatric therapist. I have watched training videos, read articles, and written papers so that, someday, I can become a good pediatric OT too.

The only problem is that, in the process of learning from all these other therapists’ styles, I have forgotten what my style is. I have realized that I’ve tried so hard to take on their identity that I have lost my own when it comes to interacting therapeutically with the kids.

I suppose this is part of the learning curve. You start with a natural talent and intuition for working with kids, so you’re drawn to a field that will educate you on how to be even better with them. Then, in the process of learning, you are removed from your kid-filled environment (i.e., work or volunteer positions) as you saturate your brain with new information about theories, techniques, and research related to working with kids. As you drift away from your passion, you lose a little bit of that natural pizazz that you once possessed when you’re around kids because, well, you’ve grown a little rusty. Then, as you are reintroduced to the kid-filled environment, you are no longer that fun kid magnet that you once were. You are a person who loves kids but is weighed down and — sometimes — paralyzed by a truckload of new knowledge that you must now integrate into your interactions with those little people who were never that intimidating to you but, now, seem to be much more difficult to engage and motivate.

This is what happened to me.

About 3 weeks ago, I realized that I just wasn’t fun anymore. I used to be (and have) lots and lots of fun when I was around kids, even when it was all day long. But now? Now that I have all this “education” to use as part of my practice? Now that there is more of a “right” and a “wrong” to what I choose to do in terms of helping them reach their goals? Well, I think I became a bit of a robot, processing frames of reference and creating data sheets of approved treatment strategies for different kids. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things. But somewhere along the way, I stopped being fun. I forgot that my clients are kids who like to play, and I treated them like clients. I mean, I was maybe a little fun. But not that much.

So, I’ve decided that I’m going to be fun. And I’m going to have fun. Because how can therapy be play-based if you’re not actually playing?

Ever since I resolved to be more fun (since about 1 1/2 weeks ago), things have been so much better at fieldwork. Yeah, I still have to use my clinical reasoning and make sure that I’m having fun with the kids in a way that will bring them closer to meeting their official goals. But it’s way more fun for me and for the kids, and I can tell just by looking at their smiles and paying attention to the buzz that I feel when we’re finished with our sessions.

I’m so glad I realized this now, before I finished my fieldwork and left feeling like I wasn’t as good a pediatric  OT as I once thought I could be. So every day as I drive to fieldwork, I am happy to remind myself of my new motto:

I’m going to be fun today.

At 26 years old, Katherine Wolf seemed to have it all — a modeling career, a husband, and a beautiful 6-month-old son. But in 2008, she suddenly suffered a massive brain stem stroke that should have killed her. But it didn’t.

Katherine was a member of the Los Angeles-based church I attended in college, and so I heard about her plight through friends of friends. She’s gone through extensive physical, occupational, and swallowing therapy at Casa Colina in the time since her stroke.

And now she’s been featured on CNN. You can watch her three and a half minute interview and read her article here.

Katherine blogs about all she’s learning from her recovery at www.katherinewolf.info.

I am so proud to be part of a profession that focuses on helping people like Katherine to rehabilitate from life’s difficulties and move forward with dignity and hope. We are so blessed.

I don’t ever write about politics. I prefer to stay out of it. However…

The following has been put together by the USC OT Policy and Advocacy Organization (OTPAO) — leaders in occupational therapy who study public policy in an effort to help up prepare to vote on November 2, 2010. They have said:

The people we vote into office will support the policies that directly affect our practices today, tomorrow, and in the future. As occupational therapy clinicians, researchers, and educators, it is our duty to ensure that we advocate for the best interests of our profession and our clients at the local, state, and national level. The candidates listed below are most likely to support and enact legislation that will benefit the occupational therapy profession.

For specific information on any of the recommendations, please contact USCOTPAO@GMAIL.COM.

The candidates listed below are most likely to support and enact legislation that will benefit the occupational therapy profession.

Federal

US SENATE

Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Karen Bass (D-CA-33)

Xavier Becerra (D-CA-31)

Brian Bilbray (R-CA-50)

Ken Calvert (R-CA-44)

Lois Capps (D-CA-23)

David Dreier (R-CA-26)

Anna Eshoo (D-CA-14)

Bob Filner (D-CA-51)

Wally Herger (R-CA-02)

Michael Honda (D-CA-15)

Barbara Lee (D-CA-09)

Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-16)

Doris Matsui (D-CA-05)

Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-22)

Howard McKeon (R-CA-25)

Jerry McNerney (D-CA-11)

George Miller (D-CA-07)

Grace Napolitano (D-CA-38)

Devin Nunes (R-CA-21)

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-08)

Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-47)

Adam Schiff(D-CA-29)

Fortney Stark (D-CA-13)

Michael Thompson (D-CA-01)

Henry Waxman (D-CA-30)

Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-06)

State

GOVERNOR

Jerry Brown

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

Gavin Newsom

SECRETARY OF STATE

Debra Bowen

CONTROLLER

John Chiang

TREASURER

Bill Lockyer

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Kamala Harris

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER

Dave Jones

SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS

Tom Torlakson

CA STATE SENATE

Gloria Negrete McLead (D-32)

CA STATE ASSEMBLY

Anthony Portantino (D-44)

LA COUNTY ASSESSOR

John Noguez

BOARD OF EQUALIZATION

Jerome Horton

OTPAO recommendations for propositions listed below are based on issues that may impact occupational justice.

CA Propositions

PROP 19 – Neutral

TAXES AND REGULATES CANNABIS

PROP 20 – No

CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING

PROP 21 – Yes

SAVE STATE PARKS

PROP 22 – No

MORE CUTS TO PUBLIC SCHOOL AND PUBLIC SERVICES

PROP 23 – No

IF APPROVED WOULD EFFECTIVELY REPEAL CA GLOBAL WARMING LAW. FUNDED BY BIG TEXAS OIL COMPANIES.

PROP 24 – Yes

CLOSES CORPORATE TAX LOOPHOLES

PROP 25 – Yes

BREAK THE GRIDLOCK: MAJORITY VOTE NEEDED INSTEAD OF 2/3 OF STATE LEGISLATURE TO APPROVE CA BUDGETS

PROP 26 – No

POLLUTER PROTECTION: UNDERMINES GLOBAL WARMING LAW

PROP 27 – Yes

ELIMINATES REDISTRICTING COMMISSION

Again, for specific information on any of the recommendations, please contact USCOTPAO@GMAIL.COM

This should convince you.

In occupational therapy, we work with people who are “different”. People with disabilities, injuries, and difficulties. However, on top of all that, we work with people, and people in and of themselves are all different from one another, no matter how hard we try to categorize their similarities.

In my first year of OT school, our professors hammered into us the idea that all people are different – are individuals – and that we need to continually strive to not only be sensitive to those differences, but to learn to become competent in interacting with those differences. People will invariably have different lifestyles, cultural backgrounds, and life experiences from our own, and we as professionals must be able to respect each individual client we work with, no matter how different they are from us.

At first, this barrage of information in nearly every class seemed redundant and pointless. Yeah yeah, I get it, respect people’s differences and treat each person like an individual. I get it. Can we move on now?

However, now that I am ankle deep in the 2nd year waters, I am finding that these seemingly repetitive admonitions have actually started to sink in. They are positively influencing the way that I interact with and view people outside of the OT clinic. For example, I live in an intentional community of 40 other people who, even though we are all associated with the same seminary and the same Christian faith, seem to often see various circumstances very differently. Though I have often thought of myself as one who functions well in the midst of divergent opinions and beliefs, I have found that OT school has started to transform my view of “the individual”, and I am becoming better equipped to interact with people who are different from me even within my own living quarters. I can more easily note the strengths that are created by the variety of opinions, and I can more creatively engage with these differences in an effort to help make the community stronger.

It’s a weird thing to see it happen right in front of your eyes.

So as I progress through my second year of OT school, I am excited to see the new ways in which I will be transformed and I hope that, at the end of this school year, I will be able to reflect back and see just how far I have come.

 

…I finally feel right at home.

I was born to work with kids. It is my passion and my calling. And yet, I have spent the last 15 months in academic and clinical learning environments that have taken me away from my passion. In OT school, you have to learn how to become an entry-level practitioner in any area of OT practice. My program has forced me to try other things.

But now I’m back.

I will spend the next 7 months at an incredible multidisciplinary pediatric clinic in Pasadena for my 2nd Level II OT fieldwork. The site, philosophy, and staff are amazing. Not to mention that the 7 minute drive is a welcome reprieve after spending the entire summer commuting to Long Beach for my 12-week-long Level II fieldwork. At this clinic I am involved with an Early Intervention Developmental Play Group (for kids 18-36 months, diagnosed with or at risk for autism) which is based on the SCERTS model, a Social Skills group (for 3-5 year olds, based on referrals and standardized assessments), and a diverse handful of individual clients. I am learning so much more than I ever would in the classroom – and that’s the point. I pursued this opportunity (a pediatric grant offered through my OT school) specifically so that I could gain invaluable clinical knowledge and experience that you just can’t get in the classroom. And the bonus is that I am doing this while I am still in school. This means that my 17 cohort-mates and I (who are all specializing in pediatric occupational therapy) get to learn, brainstorm, and problem solve on a weekly basis as we assimilate our clinical experience into our classroom learning.

I have been waiting a long time for this opportunity. And I’m so happy that it’s finally here. Even though I sometimes watch the therapists and fear that I can never be as good as they are, I just have to keep reminding myself that this is what I was created to do. And every day that I spend in that clinic reminds me of just how amazing it will be to someday be able to say that I am a licensed and registered pediatric occupational therapist…OTR/L!