Monthly Archives: May 2016

Sports

As occupational therapists and mentors we have the knowledge and the education to help our clients to participate in adaptive sports. As my followers are aware of, I work with children who have “normal” cognitive abilities, and with that also comes the desire to want to participate in the usual childhood activities. The children I work with play adaptive sports because that is what children do when they are growing up. I believe that we are able to adapt anything for our clients so that they are able to participate in the desired sport. I am a believer in children with disabilities being able to play sports, as that is how they are able to have the “typical” childhood.

If children who are disabled have “normal” childhoods, they are going to also expect to have normal expectations and responsibilities to be to put upon them. My clients are all a part of some sport team at school that make the occupational therapists and I have to adapt their power chairs to allow them to play. I used to go skiing, so I can relate to my mentees on wanting to do sports, and just because someone has significant physical disabilities doesn’t mean that they are not capable of participating in sports. If they have the desire to do something, it is our job to help them do it. As occupational therapists, you have the ability to figure out how to make a child’s desire to do something into their reality.

As my followers know, I work at a summer camp every year and we have children playing everything, all around us, all the time. Children play sports when they are growing up and it teaches them teamwork, and how to work in different ways to communicate with their team members. Playing on a team teaches them communicate with one another and how to problem solve on the spot. Our job is just to help children with the assistive technology to play the games and then sit back to watch them play. As occupational therapists and mentors we have the job to adapt their wheelchairs to play the adaptive sport and then we can sit back to watch them be children.

Until Next Time,  Enjoy Your Children

Self Determination

Self Determination

Before a toddler with special needs gain the ability to succeed in life, the child must be taught self determination and self worth. Self determination is the drive and motivation to make a life for oneself and everyone’s degree of a successful life is going to look different. As a mentor one of my main duties is helping my clients create and update their Framing A Future goals (FAF) or self determination goals. FAF is a student driven academic activity where the student writes their personal goals with a teacher or a school professional and the student usually updates this
right before their IEP. The pupil typically starts being asked to do a FAF as soon as they devise a way communication either by using a flip book or a talker.

Self determination and a positive self esteem is the fundamental aspect required to work on communication skills. My clients have to demonstrate that they have self determination to work with me on conversational skills or what I do with clients will fail. As a mentor I thrive on observing the mentee flourish in their goals. At my job myself a long with the speech-language pathologist facilitate with the student writing the Self Determination Goals or otherwise known as Framing A Future before their IEP or a team meeting. By doing this with the pupil the professionals get an insight into the student’s desire for their future. A severely physical and speech impaired student will have their own vision as where they would like to see themselves heading too. We have to take these goals and ambitions into consideration when the team is writing the formal IEP as these goals.
Personal decisions are what I look for or strive for as a mentor because this quality in an individual indicates that the student is ready and willing to put in the work to achieve the self enforced goals. Because a person is born with different abilities does not mean that they are less of a person but instead it requires the family to solicit extra assistance from the school district. The U. S. has a policy which says leave no child behind and that is including lock in children. As a parent take the first step and ask someone on the team to assist your child to write their Self Determination goals and make  this document both grow with the individual and be the center of the IEP

Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Trying Different Body Parts To Communicate

Communication devices are most useful when tailored to the child’s specific needs. A toddler is naturally going to use the body part they have most control over and feels natural, but they must first be giving the opportunity to work with different equipment to find what fits best. The speech language pathologist and occupational therapists will observe each limb and aid in determining which body part is most beneficial to the child.
Communication comes in all forms. A child with significantly limiting disabilities may be more inclined to use their eye for manipulating the mouse on a communication device. On the other hand, there are still a plethora of options for communication as technology is certainly advancing. As I have mentioned, I’m a severely physically disabled adult who uses a device with a sensitive tracker to follow an infer red light on my head. I have the ability to be a part of our society because of sensitive technology. I strongly encourage parents to take advantage of the rapidly expanding technology, as it is one of the strongest tools to connect your child.
What I love most about what I do is truly helping to bring out the inner beauty of the child by influencing them. A voice is a very powerful tool to have; especially if the child has aspirations to create a life for themselves. If your child was in a different body, they would still possess an “end goal” for themselves.
Remember your children are children first. The disabilities are a part of them; not who they are. Deep down inside your child is there, they just need a little assistance to express what their thoughts are. A disabled individual with drive in life is going to find a way to access whatever they need. Our job as adults is to make the specific goal within their reach by providing them with a voice.
Until next time, enjoy your children!

The Importance of a Partnership

The Importance of a Partnership
A client knows their strengths best, so they know how and why they want to do things a certain way. As a client gets older, they become more aware of their capabilities and limitations, so ask them a lot of questions. If you are working on putting on a jacket, asks them what would make the task easier. Treat the client as a partner. To be a competent occupational therapist, one has to be good at working as a partner with the client. Giving the child the leadership role in the partnership is going to help them progress quicker. An example of this is I am currently working on drinking with my occupational therapist and to go faster, I had to describe the bottle I want vividly for her.
As a mentor who works with severely disabled children, I listen to what my mentee is envisioning for a device to help them with daily tasks. If a child can describe the device they prefer, it could save several visits plus make certain to get the tool they need and want. A true story; I am working with my own occupational therapist on easier drinking and once I described the water bottles used by boxers in the ring, she understood what I want and what I believe will help me. As a fellow professional working in the same realm as an occupational therapist, I would advise peers to ‘hear the individual out’ on how they want to deal, envision plus feel comfortable working on a certain skill. Respect your patient because they are going to be more willing to consider what you suggest for how to accomplish a occupational therapy goal.
As professionals, we must listen to our clients as that is how we are able to build trust between ourselves and the clients. I have to build trust with my mentees before I am able to fully engage with them. As an occupational therapist, you must build confidence and trust, rather than just telling them what’s best – allow them to work on the solution so you don’t create walls between yourselves. At any first meeting of my mentees, I do a professional presentation about myself and my services as this tells them what they can expect of our partnership.
When an occupational therapist works with cognitively sound clients, they want to work with the person as an equal and not push techniques on the person. When I am working with a young adult, I like to generally let the student lead our mentoring sessions because 1. that tells the person I trust they know what they want to accomplish and 2. that also tells me where their ‘head is at’ for these meetings. I learn a lot about the mentees when I allow them to tell me what they would like to get out of our sessions.
I’ve written a blog about how a child is going to know what body part they want to use and I am touching on that same concept in this blog. If an occupational therapist gives the power over to the client, you are going to learn what the child knows about their disabilities and how to best work with the limitations. They might say “I want a bottle like a boxer’s water bottle” to describe a bottle they might try to make drinking easier on them. As an occupational therapist, you are working on functional living skills which has a realm from dressing and eating to driving the wheelchair safely across the street. Occupational therapists give the client mobility and functional skills and by really listening to the patient, you are going to target the exact skills they want to work on. First and foremost, you must remember that the client is a person! You must treat the person respectfully and gain their trust before treating the goals they have come to you for help on. Also, remember to enjoy having the opportunity to better someone’s life. The job we do has to be an equal partnership because the client is the primary expert on their disability. As professionals, we tend to get wrapped up in accomplishing goals and move on to the next client too quickly. We need to stop and just enjoy our our client and our job!

Until Next Time, Enjoy your Children

Team Work in Occupational Therapy

Team Work in Occupational Therapy
When I am working along side of an occupational therapist with a client, I like to think of the three of us as a team. The client will present us with a task they might being having trouble completing and we will put our heads together and bounce ideas off of one another. As an occupational therapist, think of yourself as a vehicle for the client to get from point A to point B. The O.T. has the role of coming up with assistive technology to help with a certain task. A patient might have trouble with putting on a shoe and the therapist might come up with a longer shoe horn to assist with the task.
As an occupational therapist, you may have more of the day-to-day tasks such as driving the power chair to a cafe in order to practice going into the community. In my role as the mentor, I work along side the O.T. on the client’s ability to go out independently into the community to do activities.
The occupational therapist figures out the mobility aspect of the goal written in the IEP rather than the communication part of said goal. The O.T. focuses on the comfort and the body mechanics of the activities. The O.T. and the mentor are more concerned about the proper position of the body than how it looks when performing a goal. As a mentor with disabilities, I have the ability to tell how comfortable the person is by how accurate and at what speed the individual is able to complete the task. An example of this is how while currently working with a student and looking for a new device, I can watch her body mechanics and ease while she is testing different communication devices.
As I have mentioned in the previous blogs, a patient is not going to make use of the assistive technology if they are not comfortable using it. While working with the occupational therapist and myself, we spend sessions on just the comfortable level of my mentee. While you are working on a task with a patient, I would like you to observe your client’s comfort.
The occupational therapist has the position in the IEP team to make sure that the client is able to perform the daily task efficiently and effortlessly. The child will probably have to do the task several times a day, so must be comfortable executing it. The O. T. must have the knowledge about how to assist the client at being able to do repetitions of the tasks with ease and efficiency.

Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Functional vs. Traditional Ways

Functional Vs. Traditional Ways
As an occupational therapist you are going to learn how to accomplish tasks in untraditional ways and give someone their independence, in any way you can. As a mentor for disabled youth I have learned to be creative with their functional abilities because at the end of the day, all that matters is the client’s independence. I have a cousin who is newly disabled and I have to talk with him about how looks do not matter but his independence does. Your creativity in figuring out how a client will be able to get the job done will be greatly appreciated. That will be one less thing he or she is not going to have to ask an aide to do.
As an occupational therapist, you are going to be working on the person’s ability to complete daily tasks and see to it that they are able to independently accomplish most, if not all of them on their own. I have a cousin who hurt his back and is hopefully temporarily disabled which means that he has to relearn how to do things. If he asks me how to put on shoes, I will hand him a long stick and teach him how to put them on over his leg braces. As an occupational therapist your concern is for your patient’s functional independence and later you can make it look neater.
The job of a O. T. is to help the client be more self sufficient. The neater look will come afterwards. My biggest concern is that my clients are able to complete their goals independently. As a young mentor I understand wanting to look good, so after I figure out how my mentee is going to do a task independently, I go back to work on stream lining the method. The occupational therapist has to be concerned about the equipment they are going to use while working with young adults or the client may not want to use it. The occupational therapist on the IEP team has a more social role as they are working on functional goals.

I encourage you to have fun with the client!

Until Next Time, Enjoy your Children

The Body is a Machine That Will ‘Rust in Idle’

When someone has limited mobility they need to keep moving or they will lose the little mobility they do have. As an Occupational Therapist, you will need to not only give a young patient access to mobility but also teach the child to stand up and retain their own body’s mobility when they are under a supported living service, SLS. Most SLS will want to make most things easier on the staff rather than strengthen the client’s body. As an occupational therapist you have the pleasure of working with your client and their gained mobility and on how to do everything from eating to communicating efficiently. When I am working alongside an occupational therapist, I am always asking the child if they want to gain efficient ways to transfer and to communicate comfortably with their communication devices rather than figuring out ways to make the aides’ lives easier.
As an occupational therapist, OT, you are going to work on the fundamental life skills that a person needs to to live independently. The OT has the responsibility to give the child ample independence plus mobility to live a beautiful and independent life. As the OT on an Individualize education plan, IEP team it is your job to not only work on the clients’ independence but also on how they can continue to acquire additional mobility throughout their entire life.
As an occupational therapist you need to keep in communication with your client or you will lose their respect and trust. Due to my unique position of working in the disability realm and being a customer in that same realm, I find myself using the knowledge of my profession in my personal life. My current caseworker is essentially trying to take away my transferring ability by forcing me into the use of a Hoyer lift and weakening the strength of my legs and self-bodily support . As an occupational therapist, you need to teach your patients not only to attempt certain activities independently but how to stand up for themselves when someone attempts to lessen their body’s movements and allows the muscles to ‘rust’.
I like to get my clients to their highest level of independence with both being able to communicate and fight for what they know is right for their own well-being. My mentees are usually quadriplegics or severely disabled but my job is to teach them how to use their ‘voice’ to take care of themselves. Your clients may be so severely disabled that they have a feeding tube or other device, but that does not mean they can’t’ stand up’ for themselves. Teach them how to fight for the little they have, work their bodies to their optimal mobility and teach them how important it is for them to keep their bodies ‘well oiled’. It’s worth fighting for.
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Communication in occupational therapy

Communication in occupational therapy, is really important, because the client is the only person, who will know, what they are having trouble, accomplishing. As a mentor, I like to take the lead with my clients because they are going to know what they are and are not capable of and they will also give me ideas on tackling the problem at hand. As an occupational therapist you will be capable of performing better at your job if you are communicating with your patients about the different strategies they can use to try and solve the issues.
As a mentor I like to talk with my client about why something has not been working for them and what ideas, they have on changing that. The children I work with, are mostly cognitively sound, so they are able to give their opinions about the possible solutions for the situation at hand. My Method of working with my mentees on their fine motor skills, helps them to see that they have a major role to play in this relationship. As an O. T. The last thing you want to do, is present yourself to your patient knowing everything and they have to do things your way because that is going to make them retract from you.
When I first meet a child, I like to let them know, that they have to be willing, to help me figure out solutions to the problems they are having, so they know right away we are going to be equals. I also find that by doing this, I can get the child to be more open, to trying things out versus me coming in and telling them how things are going to be done. As an occupational therapist your main objective is to get the individual as independent as possible, so you want to gain their trust right from the start.
Occupational therapists, need to think, of their position in the relationship as them having book knowledge and experience and your client has the knowledge about themselves so you both have something to bring to the table. Personally my clients teach me things that school couldn’t have and I am constantly learning different techniques from my mentees. As professionals in the disability realm we have the opportunity for a lot of self learning and growth if we can swallow our pride and allow our clients to teach us.
When you get out of school and become occupational therapist you must remember school just taught you techniques but you do not know everything. As a mentor working along side occupational therapists I am always humbled by our clients. Humble yourself and you are going to be pleasantly surprised, at how much, field work, teaches you. Enjoy the ride your clients takes you on and learn the things that school could have never taught you.

Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Pain and Easing it

Pain and Easing It

As an occupational therapist you have the knowledge and the privilege to ease physical pain. Your clients may feel like they are boring you, wasting time discussing the pain, but you need to hear all the facts. You can’t help your clients if you can’t say what is hurting them. As a mentor who understands the mentee being hesitant of telling people what hurts, I try to encourage the person to tell us about his pain, personal habits, interests and goals for the occupational therapist. Once they open up, causes, symptoms and possible action plans usually arise.
When my mentee is suddenly relieved of their pain, they are able to concentrate on the therapy goals. I am in the unique position of knowing what it is like to be in chronic pain and also have the job of helping occupational therapists figure out how to make the client more comfortable. The children I typically work with are still growing so it usually just a matter of adjusting their adjustable seating to their current size. I usually notice an instant improvement in the functionality of the patient just by this minor adjustment. If your client is not progressing at a rate that’s normal for them, ask him or her if they are comfortable. Sometimes just the need of the slightest adjustment can stimulate progress to the speed the normally would!

Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Will Power

Will Power

I was working with children on their access method and I noticed that everyone’s progress was based on the individual’s will power. The children who have stronger will power are progressing quicker than the children who have very little. I find that clients with strong will power generally have families and a whole support system behind them, encouraging them to get well and to achieve their therapy goals.
As a mentor I am able to achieve the mentee’s goals fast when he or she has solid will power.
Recently, I worked with a child who really wanted to communicate but her neck muscles were under developed. This child worked every day with the occupational therapist and myself and now her neck is strong enough to be able to use a tracker. On the flip side, I have a young lady who lacks the will power and determination and she is going at a much slower pace on achieving her therapy goals. As occupational therapists and mentors, we are able to boast our clients’ will power by encouraging them to work on their goals slowly, but steadily and celebrate even their smallest achievements.
Boosting and encouraging will power through therapy is essential to our clients because what they are doing is one of the hardest challenge of their lives. As someone with disabilities myself, I am hard on my clients but compassionate and also share their struggles. We work together on different strategies for pumping ourselves up!
As occupational therapist and mentors, we need to first understand where the person is coming from and then we can work on boasting their will power. If we tackle the issue of will power and determination from the start, we will see faster progress.

Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children