OT Adventures

  • Halfway

    I intended to post new thoughts during the first week of school and then the second week. Somehow, the semester is already halfway complete! We have one more midterm to go, and I feel satisfied about my work and growth this semester. 

    In one class, we learned about the application of evidence-based practice to OT which includes client experiences/values/needs, best available research and practitioner expertise. It's a relief that I don't just apply research, but explore the client's feelings and experience and what I deem to be necessary and true in course of actions. This is holistic. 

    My Physical Disabilities clinic is fantastic! My professor is knowledeable, supportive and professional. She's overseeing all of the students as we work with individual clients. I've conducted an occupational profile, assessments, initial evaluations, interventions plans and a home visit with a home evaluation. And so much more! We had two days to read about a new assessment and present information to classmates! I really enjoy working with my assigned client. I have a home program assignment that is approaching.

    Another approaching assignment is a group class soon in clinic, but I'm not sure what to teach yet. I was leaning toward a postmodern pedestrian dance class that involves sitting, standing, raising a hand, blinking eyes or an introductory Alexander Technique class. I think that the clients in the clinic would benefit from learning Alexander Technique, but I've taught an introductory class many many times. So, still thinking on it.

    Other highlights: In my Pediatrics class, we critically analyzed the use of a toy for different populations and a competencey consisted of feedinig each other graham crackers and water (which was pretty funny--we laughed a lot) during the section on swallowing and feeding. In my Young Adult class, our midterm was on spinal cord injury (SCI). We worked with transferring each other from bed to wheelchair and examined therapeutic exercises for improving range of motion and strength. I'm not sure how yet, but I grew from learning about spinal cord injury. Aside from Christopher Reeve's story, I was not familiar with the prognosis or outcome. It's a serious recovery, and people with SCI can live long, full, independent lives. 

    Here's the last bits of information....I've been assigned a research project for next semester that involves working with parents of children with autism. My group is dedicated. I can't wait to study with them and conduct research with a new professor! 

    I'm signing off--must read about mood disorders. I'll try to write about feelings/experiences next week. Or the week after that....

  • OT Summer

    Hi again!

    I had many OT informed experiences this summer!

    I traveled to the east coast and visited with my friend and colleague from Alexander Technique school. Loren Shlaes is a pediatric OT with a practice in NYC, in addition to being an Alexander Technique teacher (see photo of Loren and I!). We had a delicious lunch at Elephant and Castle followed by a visit to her practice. It was a pleasure to observe her effortless work with children. I saw an evaluation of reflexes and watched her work with eye contact and whole body integration. In one observation, a child climbed up an enormous foam wedge to leap towards Loren hiding on the other side. Such meaningful and innovative play! I am inspired by her work with pediatrics and hope to be just as skilled someday.

    I also had the opportunity to play with my niece. First we tried sitting meditation and then lying on the floor meditation with our legs on the couch. This didn't last long. She became bored. Then, I tried developmental movement beginning with creating a starfish shape and she just wasn't interested. So I said, how about walking meditation.

    Okay, she said. Lets go on the front porch.

    She needed to be interested in this play. Surprisingly, walking meditation turned into choreography of postmodern pedestrian movement. We slowly walked up and down the stairs. We walked in lines and switched places. We took turns going from sitting to standing and explored how to get up without jolting our bodies from the chair. She liked this investigation so much that we practiced it again during another visit. This time we moved in various ways up and down the stairs inside the house and we explored how to crawl in a contralateral way (left hand moves as right leg moves and right hand moves as left leg moves). 

    Two more bits of info...

    I visited Beverly, MA to interview with OT clinics. I plan on completing fieldwork there after I finish my second year of OT school (school starts next week-yipee!). My program doesn't send many students outside of California, but my family has many reasons to return to the east coast. So I was given permission to reach out from my fieldwork coordinator. Both clinics have top notch clinical instructors who I will learn a great deal from. 

    Lastly--upon return home--I started volunteering to teach "Move with the Alexander Technique" to multicultural elders at SAHA (Satellite Affordable Housing Associates). They have a well-organized and beneficial volunteer program. In these classes, I'm using all of my background in Alexander Technique, movement practices and the new studies of OT Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation and Neurodevelopmental Technique in a gentle movement workshop. SJSU has a study abroad requirement, and I am fulfilling study abroad with this experience. 

    That's it for now. I hope to write at least one blog a month as I enter my second year. :) Until next time.....

  • How did I get here? Shifting into an OT career....

    Hi! Welcome to entry #1 of my blog--my first blog. The first few entries will be filled with words, but I hope to condense ideas as I explore typing about my life. 

    I've entered the study of OT as a teacher, mover, performer. I'm a second year OT student at San Jose State University (I am fond of SJSU!), and I plan to become a pediatric OT who specializes in sensory integration and holistic interventions.

    About my first career---I began with Alexander Technique instruction at age 26 (mostly working in theater departments in academia and also contracting in workshops and teaching in private practice). I wanted people to find health and well-being. So I also studied many holistic practices which lead to Reiki and yoga for children with special needs. These are just a few of my investigations---I studied and studied many methodologies! 

    Ten years ago, I nearly joined my friend at OT school. She was shifting from a photography career to OT. But, I was still interested in movement practice and the performing arts. So I continued and learned a great deal. If I hadn't earned my MFA in Contemporary Performance from Naropa University, I would not have been introduced to Barbara Dilley's pedestrian movement work or Wendell Beavers and Erika Berland's Developmental Movement and postmodern choreography. And also, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen's Body-Mind Centering. These creative investigations will be incredibly useful in my work as an OT (in addition to Alexander Technique and meditation). As my OT professors aptly state: your prior work is applicable to your future practice. 

    So, how did I realize OT was the next step? Here's one early memory: After working with students on a scene for a play, I chatted with a co-teacher about how their bodies and movement had changed. I realized that I did not care as much about the art of the scene. I was interested in what they were feeling and experiencing. I wanted them to feel well. 

    Many of my students had experiences of improved being. Here were some of the outcomes: 

    -the ability to wait tables without a hurt back

    -neck pain gone after 10 years 

    -anxiety dissipating from the realization that all is okay

    -hand gesture creating an energetic experience of center

    -ability to go from sitting to standing without using the arms of the chair

    Learning from my students' experiences (in Alexander Technique, movement and theater), I concluded that I was practicing healing. When I wasn't using healing work during the creation of student theater productions or collaborative art projects, believe me, my students and collaborators let me know (because they felt tense or rigid)! I needed to always practice the work in order to teach and practice performance. 

    The final confirmation that OT was the right track was apparent in my last college theater class. Students who showed up had various histories and backgrounds that I was not prepared for: seizures, autism, mental health disorders, among other challenges. I knew that OT was the next step. I am looking forward to OT practice and beginning this process in school clinics this year.