Frozen Water Beads

Oh Pinterest, what did we do before you? Inspiration. Treatment Ideas. Pretty pictures of delicious meals I’ll never, ever make… Ok, ok, back to business. If you want to take a look at past Pinterest pins I’ve tested in therapy, click here.

This week I stumbled upon a new sensory idea over at the Busy Toddler Blog: Frozen Water Beads.

Let’s face it, I’ve made every slime, putty, and dough mixture out there. In search of something new and exciting, this seemed like an easy way to add a different spin to the proven popularity of water beads.

The idea is beyond simple. In fact, here’s the directions:

1. Freeze water beads.

Yep. That’s it. How could you mess that up? Oh, funny you should ask. Remember, I’m here to make the mistakes so you don’t have to. Learn from my tragedies, everyone!

For example: Don’t freeze the water beads inside a water bottle. Bad idea. Oh, and don’t leave it to freeze overnight. Super bad idea.

I managed to create a solid brick of water beads trapped by the unforgiving and ridiculously small opening of a water bottle. When they finally emerged, I was greeted by what I can safely describe as water bead sludge. (It sort of resembled the blue goo that comes in a reusable ice pack.)

But hey, I’m an OT, I would never scoff at the opportunity to play with sludge. Talk about mixed, inconsistent texture experiences! Oh, and it’s cold!

Here are the results of the first round of poor water bead torture:

For the second round, I was able to freeze the water beads in a wider jar, and only for an hour or so. They came out in a much more usable/recognizable state:

So how did it go in therapy? It was a big hit! I’m a fan of incorporating temperature changes in order to impact the type of input the child is receiving. I also say it’s a more challenging tactile experience overall due to the fact that the beads don’t hold their shape as well and crumple a bit more than when they aren’t frozen. This causes a more unpredictable mixed consistency when the children are playing.

The water beads also seemed to be even more fun to squish when frozen, which allowed the children to work on pinch and finger isolation. Their little hands were eager to work hard to excavate the beads from the ice chunks, which was a great way to work on dexterity and strength. We also used the beads to hide pegs or pony beads for the children to fish out, and practiced scooping and using utensils to fill smaller containers.

Plus, BONUS, the water beads don’t seem to bounce around the entire room quite as uncontrollably when in this state! (I’ve experienced my fair share of water bead explosion regret…) Overall, a fun activity that can incorporate many different therapy goals.

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Development of Visual Perceptual Skills: Visual Closure

Visual closure is a sub-test on the Test of Visual Perceptual Skills (TVPS) that children tend have a lot of trouble with. As described in my previous post about Visual Perceptual Skills: Real Life Applications, visual closure is a skill that allows a child to see part of a word, shape, or picture, and fill the rest in their head.

First of all, think of how important this skill is for spelling, writing, reading, etc. Actually no, strike that. First think about how difficult this skill is. In fact, if you look at work by Warren (1993), she sees the whole concept of visual processing as a hierarchy, and way up at the top of her model is where you’ll find visual cognition – the skills that we are typically assessing in our evaluations.

So what does that mean? Well, to me, it means hold up for just a moment. If you are scouring the internet for activities related to a specific area of visual perception that a child has a deficit in (i.e. figure ground, visual spatial, visual memory, etc.), don’t just assume that you can throw these activities at them and see all of their functional skills improve. That’s a recipe for splinter skills. (When you can do a very specific task, but it doesn’t generalize beyond that specific task.)

You first need to look deeper into the foundation skills that sit underneath visual perception. Things like acuity, oculomotor control, postural control, attention… and so on. You can’t expect a child to improve their visual perceptual skills when they can’t even sit upright to look at the paper, or can’t dissociate their eye movements from their head, or can’t attend to a visual stimulus for more than a few seconds. You can’t run before you can walk, you shouldn’t put your cart before the horse, and, you know, all of those other helpful sayings that might apply here. This is really true with anything we do in therapy, building the foundation first, but more and more often I see this getting lost when dealing with visual perception.

Ok then, allow me to get off of my foundation skill soap box. Let’s assume you’ve done all of that ground work, maybe made a referral to an optometrist, covered all of your bases, and are truly ready to challenge certain aspects of visual perception. Here are a few ways I’ve seen and used to work on visual closure:

Grid designs: This is a very simplistic way to get started with visual closure skills. Using two grids, the child copies a design from one grid to another. Grade the challenge up or down by changing the number of dots you use, how close the grids are to one another, or maybe even incorporate vestibular/oculomotor work input by placing the model behind or to the side of the child so they have to turn their head or move their eyes in order to complete the task.

As you continue to increase the challenge, you can slowly fade away grid points so the child has to do more work to accurately complete the shape.

This can also be done with more functional designs such as letters or pre-writing shapes.

While on the note of visual closure and forming letters, I want to bring your attention to a commonly used prompt for children. How many letter worksheets do you see with the dots like the picture below? Think of what you are asking the child to do – it falls into the realm of visual closure in order to accurately trace the dot letter. For children that have trouble with this skill, it might not be an effective way to practice and remember letters. If the child isn’t having success remembering letter formations using the dot technique, I’d start with a highlighter for tracing as a way to grade the activity down for more initial success.

Dot to dots: Along the same lines as grid designs, but way less official or potentially intimidating, you can find dot to dot activities in many commercial children’s activity or coloring books.

Stencils: Stencil sets allow you to create an outline of something, and then add on details. The child could trace an animal or a shape, and then add details in order to complete the image.

What number/shape/word is this?: Only showing a portion of a picture or a word. You can do this by writing a word on the marker board, then wiping away a portion of it, or you can cut out a card stock grid that only shows a portion at a time. The best part about doing this on a dry erase marker board is that you can grade how much of the shape or image you choose to wipe away depending on the success of the child.

Finish the picture: Giving the child half of a picture; “pic-art” style would be easiest, as shown below, and a full detailed magazine picture would be the most challenging. Another idea I’ve enjoyed is to start a picture that looks like one thing, but then the child has to change it into something else.

 

For even more simplicity, you could cover up part of an illustration in an book you are reading together, and see if the child can guess what the whole image is.

A lot of these activities are fairly easy to incorporate into home practice after they are introduced in a session. As with any home program, your therapist should be able to help you find an appropriate starting point for the child, and then grade the activities up as needed.

P.S. Yes, I know there are many apps out there that promote these kinds of skills as well, but I’m going to be that crotchety old therapist that wants to avoid adding any more screen time for a child than they are already getting.

Warren, M (1993), A Hierarchical Model for Evaluation and Treatment of Visual Perceptual Dysfunction in Adult Acquired Brain Injury, Part 1. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 47 (1), 42-54.
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Therapy Students in the Clinic: A Realistic Look

As students are finishing up their final rotations of graduate school and preparing to take their national board exams (AKA a scary, intimidating test that determines if they can actually do what they went to school for…), I thought it would be a good moment to talk about what it means to have a therapy student in your facility.

If you are a therapist, that means you’ve been a student. There’s no getting around it. As a student in an OT master’s degree program, you must complete Level II Fieldwork in order to graduate, which typically consists of two 12-week placements during which you practice hands-on clinical applications of everything you learned in school.

But what exactly does that look like?

For a student:

-You are super enthusiastic, excited to make a difference, and you haven’t been jaded by the real world just yet. Enjoy it. I’m serious. Enjoy the opportunity to practice your skills as you are on the verge of completing something you have worked very hard for.

-This is your chance to decide if a certain field is where you want to practice. So if you get a pediatric rotation, I sincerely hope you have an interest in pediatrics. The information is specific, nuanced, and difficult to do half way. So please, don’t tell your Fieldwork Educator, “I’m never going to work in pediatrics,” before the rotation even starts. It’s a real bummer for us.

-It can get boring in the beginning as you meet an overwhelming caseload and do more observing than interacting, but for the love of all that’s decent in the world, DO NOT FALL ASLEEP! Take notes, practice your skills of observation, and get acquainted with parents and families. On the flip side, as you get in the groove of treatment, expect to be exhausted. You’re constantly thinking on your toes, planning, moving equipment around, and it’s tiring.

-Please ask for help. I’ve had quite a few students give off an air of confidence that was borderline annoying. I’d be blown off by a quick nod or shrug while trying to explain a concept, which made me assume they knew what I was talking about. So when I let them “sink or swim,” I finally got an admission that they were just nervous to look like they didn’t know something. It’s kind of the whole point to be learning new things.

-It’s fair to ask for a concrete set of expectations. How many patients should you expect to see each week? At what point are you expected to take on a full caseload, if at all? Having a clear set of expectations allows you to be better prepared for what’s coming. I mean, I was forced to lead a small group session on my first day of a rotation. (Don’t worry, I only blacked out a little bit from the fear.)

-Supervision: You want it? You don’t want it? According to the AOTA practice advisory for Level II students, the initial level of supervision is line of sight, but that can decrease depending on a number of factors. I know I was treating people alone on numerous occasions when I was a student. This can be a delicate balance depending on the setting, and I hope you aren’t being treated as a means to increase staff productivity; you are there to learn. Ultimately, your supervising OTR or COTA is responsible for the services you provide.

-This is essentially a 12 week job interview. Don’t take the opportunity lightly, because as the field becomes more saturated, those connections you make can be all the difference. So be on time, do what is asked, and even if you know you don’t want to do the job, you never know how your fieldwork experience might impact what’s ahead in your career.

For a Child/Parent/Patient: 

-Have an open mind. A student comes in with a lot of textbook knowledge, but the execution might be super awkward as they begin. However, I can guarantee that student has likely put a ton of time and thought into the activities they are attempting with your child, and I have discussed and/or approved these ideas.

-Adjusting the children to a new person can be difficult, and then preparing them for their departure can be even more of a challenge. It is a strange concept to invite a new person into a close-knit therapeutic relationship for a limited amount of time, but we have to all work together to make it as seamless as possible. And no, I’m not quitting or training my replacement, as like 75% of parents assume when I introduce a student.

-So you are private paying $150 a session to work with a student? Yes, you totally have the right to tell me you don’t want a student working with your child. I will try my best to explain the process and how much supervision and planning goes into their training, but sometimes a parent is adamant that they just don’t want anyone else working with their child. Please speak up if you are uncomfortable, it’s a learning experience for everyone.

-Ultimately, I’m going to want the student to run an entire session on their own. This doesn’t mean I’m being lazy, or want to take a break (ok, maybe a little…), it means they have gained the confidence and the skills to plan and implement a therapeutic session from start to finish. I might just be watching, making comments or notes, or busying myself with something else so that I can actually let them try and work things out on their own.

For a Therapist/Fieldwork Educator:

-Ah yes, the opportunity to impart wisdom, experience, and life lessons along to the next generation of colleagues. Sure. But ALSO, doing your regular job while simultaneously explaining every aspect of said job to an affixed shadow in the hopes they can absorb, synthesize, and execute it in a skilled way.

I feel like there are two reactions to this particular challenge:
1) Therapists who revel in the opportunity to show their skill set. Some of these therapists are able to foster an amazing learning environment, while some just make the students cry in the bathroom at least once a week.
2) Therapists who reluctantly take on a student because they know they should, and try their best to find time in their schedule to teach as much as they can, crossing their fingers that they get a “good one.”

-There is a payout for that investment of time and energy up front, because as the student becomes more competent and confident, they are able to assist you in a big way. Plus, to have an additional set of hands is a beauty and a luxury one must not take lightly. (Bathroom breaks for everyone!)

-You might have to check your ego a bit. I’ll admit, this is hard to do. There have been times when I’ve noticed I get a bit protective of my treatment plans and have to open up to a student’s new ideas. And if something new works, you have to let go of the “why didn’t I think of that?” guilt.

-Free continuing education! Ok, so just a skimpy 0.5 hours of CE for every week you have a student. Which again, it’s free, but it’s definitely way more work than going to a conference and possibly much less inspiring. Yes, you might gain some new insight or fresh technique ideas from a student, but it’s not going to be all you need.

-Through the student’s university, you typically gain access to journals, academic connections, and all that other good stuff that will turn you into a super-therapist (and I swear I’ll look at it all when I find that spare time…).

-You have to mesh with a new person all up in your space. Even when most of them seem so young. (Does this date me? I think it dates me.) But if I get another email from a student that starts “Hey!” rather than a real greeting, I might just cry. Plus, you must be prepared to adapt to someone’s learning style, therapeutic style, and ability (or lack thereof) to demonstrate clinical reasoning and flexibility when that treatment plan they worked so hard on gets thrown out the window.

-Most importantly, as much work as it is for the therapist, it is an opportunity to give back to your field. Without facilities willing to take on students, or therapists willing to be Fieldwork Educators, we wouldn’t have new therapists. So while it can be a lot of work, it can be very rewarding as well. Think of it as an opportunity to be introspective about your caseload, have a fresh set of eyes, and keep your interventions current and evidence based.

So to all the new OTs out there about to graduate, congrats and good luck!

Posted in Occupational Therapy, Therapy Process | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beware the Putty Stains

I sat in therapy putty three times in the last month.

THREE TIMES.

Did I notice right away, when an emergency extraction could have been completed? Or much later, while folding a pile of supposedly clean clothes on a Sunday night, suspiciously scraping at a mystery stain while crying out, “What is that!?”

I’ll let you decide.

(For those that don’t know, once therapy putty has settled into the fibers of anything, it officially lives there. Forever.)
Regardless, I’m going to call the experience a neon-colored siren song back to a land known as internet blogging.

As you may have noticed, I took a little break from the site in the last few years. At the time I stepped away, I realized it is possible to become burnt out on the thing you started to keep yourself from burning out. Deep stuff, right? But I’ve finally asked for some help to manage the spinning plates of work and life, and I hope you’ll have me.

A big thank you to all that have participated in the conversations up to now, I appreciate you reading, commenting, and sharing with others. While I am loaded with a few years worth of fresh observations, I would love to hear from YOU. What’s going on where you are? What things are driving you crazy? Have you run into any techniques that just seem bonkers? What can we do better in treatment or maybe just in support of each other?

Please feel free to comment below, or start the discussion on the NEW Facebook page that I had to start because they kicked me out of my old one for not updating since 2015. Rude.

I am excited to hear from you. But for now, I’m going to go spray WD-40 on my pants in an attempt to remove the putty stains, because I guess that’s a thing.

Posted in Lessons Learned, Occupational Therapy | Tagged | 4 Comments

To the Therapist That Comes After Me

Untitled-1

Most of us pediatric therapists work with children that have profound, life-long challenges. Sure, we have those patients that come in for a few months, make great progress, and get discharged – never to be seen again. But those are few and far between. (And seem to be fewer and father between now a days.) We build relationships, we get attached, and we work hard to enrich every aspect of a child’s life. There’s really no avoiding it. (Unless you are made of stone, you monster!)

But that also means things get messy. Lines blur and melt together, which is why it’s so much more than a job. It’s why we burn out, why we cry, and why we find ourselves searching for something else on those really tough days. We might end up moving, changing jobs, or just starting a family. And for those reasons, we might be “replaced” by another therapist.

Having been on both sides of that situation I can tell you, I’m not sure it’s fun either way. So here’s what I’d like to say to the therapist that follows me, and what I’d like to hear as the therapist that follows behind.

-I hope you get to make a connection just as strong as mine was.

Ok, well sort of. This is one of those things that I’d like to hear someone say to me, and is harder for me to say to someone else. Who doesn’t want to hear that they were the “best”? But on the flip side, when you are the therapist following someone else, you just want your chance to shine. With that being said, I hope that you get to chat comfortably, learn about a child’s life, and be welcomed as an important part of a child’s family.

-I hope you hear about me every once and a while, but not too much.

Miss “So-and-so” would always do ____. But, Miss “So-and-so” really wanted her to work on _____. Is that what Miss “So-and-so” would have done?

Yes, it’s annoying to hear what another therapist did while you are trying to do your thing. And it’s hard to try to be someone else when you just have to be true to the way you treat. I would want a family to appreciate and understand what I had done for their child, but also allow another therapist to show who they are and what they can do.

Plus, on the flip side, I hope the family doesn’t speak about their old therapist in a negative tone, either. It’s super awkward when you are the following therapist that hears everything the parent didn’t like about their old OT. It’s a pretty big red flag that they’ll be looking for things to criticize in you, or at the very least, make you feel like you have to avoid any potential similarities you may have with the old therapist.

-I hope you don’t try to prove me wrong, or criticize what I’ve done.

Haven’t you ever found yourself in one of those OT pissing contests with another therapist? Oh, you aren’t certified in Therapeutic Listening? Wait, you don’t precisely adhere to Jean Ayres’ methodology? Haven’t you extensively studied reflex integration yet? It’s exhausting. Why do we do this to each other?

I think/hope it comes from a place of wanting to help a child and family, but it mostly comes off as this crazy OT ego battle. We are probably all guilty of looking at someone else’s paperwork and saying, “Why in the world did they do THAT?” With that being said, you can carve out your own treatment plan in a way that doesn’t minimize or belittle someone else’s work.

-I hope you are given a chance to try your own way.

Come on, OT is a journey with about a million different pathways. My way and your way might not match, but it doesn’t mean one is better than the other. Another therapist is a whole new set of eyes, and a completely different perspective. Sometimes, when you’ve been seeing a child for YEARS, it’s nice to have a fresh set of eyes.

Besides, we all spend our time studying different aspects of our profession, and we bring unique skill sets to the table. When you get a new child on your caseload, you might see something that someone else didn’t, or at least try a new way that might bring even the smallest amount of change. I hope you never feel like you are stuck in someone else’s plan, because no one wins in that scenario.

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Is Handwriting Dead?

Handwriting

I sat across from a set of parents at an IEP meeting. Nice people- no horror stories of anger, frustration, or possible litigation. Just an average conversation about a child I recently began working with in a school setting.
My responsibility was to take over the goals of a previous OT, you know the ones that have like 7-8 different goals nestled into one frustrating, difficult to track run-on sentence? Yeah, we’re all guilty of that at some point. Regardless, the conversation was all about handwriting.
The father, quiet and reserved for the most part of the meeting, speaks up to say, “but is handwriting really a necessary skill in this day and age?”

You know how I love skeptics, but this general question is coming up more and more in my practice:

“Is handwriting really a necessary skill?”  -Goodness, yes.

“Do we really need to know how to write legibly?” -Holy cow, yes.

I’m not oblivious to the fact that our world is increasingly digital. Even the act of printing things out- who does that anymore? Almost everything is online, digital, and right at your decreasingly dexterous fingertips.
And while this is all fantastic and convenient, you can’t deny the impact of this sort of technology on kids’ developing brains. While that’s a whole other can of worms, I would just like to mention that many kids are missing out on developing a very specific and important skill set that comes along with writing.

With that being said, I urge you to look at the SKILL of handwriting over the concept of writing itself: (Hint – It’s chock-full of goodness.)

Handwriting Requires:

-Fine motor skills: Dexterity, Precision, Coordination, Grasping

-Visual motor/Oculomotor skills: Eye teaming, Convergence, Scanning

-Behavioral skills: Attention, Focus, Creativity

And that’s just scratching the surface. Yes, I know there are alternatives out there for children that can’t quite find a functional written form of communication, and that’s wonderful. But does that mean we throw out the rest? Should we pretend that handwriting never happened because something else is more convenient? Ok, I’m not THAT old, but I’m sounding like my great grandparents here.

So here’s my public service announcement: Please don’t overlook the process of handwriting and what that means for a child’s development.

Writing can be both a representation of necessary skill mastery (i.e. a proper grasp = able to button a shirt, tie shoes, or open containers to prepare a meal).
OR, it can be a window into underlying delays in skill development (i.e. poor handwriting can reveal visual motor integration issues, vision issues, behavioral/emotional issues, etc.).

If handwriting is dying, then let’s revive it. At least advocate for its existence. Don’t pull the plug, because I’m afraid of a society that doesn’t know how to write.

P.S. Please pretend you didn’t just read this typed out post on an electronic device…

Posted in Occupational Therapy | 14 Comments

Is Occupational Therapy Really a “Top Job of 2014”?

Occupational Therapy Top Job 2014

Careercast.com recently came out with its top jobs of 2014. (See the article here.) This year “occupational therapist” is ranked #9. So, we’re awesome, right? Hey, it’s hard not to pat yourself on the back for your career choice when you see how cool you are. However, when you look at their criteria for ranking jobs, how does OT truly measure up? Let’s take a gander into some of the factors they looked at.

Before we dive in, I should establish that yes, I do love my field. Have I ever had a second thought about my career choice? Ooooh yeah baby. And dare I say, who hasn’t? They didn’t get that phrase “the grass is always greener…” from people that were always content with what was in front of them. Regardless, there are a few things I get to say from my position that others might not. So here I go.

From my research, there appear to be 4 “key factors” in Careercast.com’s rating of jobs. I’ll break them down for you.

-Environment-

I suppose this means work environment. Now, I’m only taking pediatric occupational therapy into consideration here, so don’t jump on me in regards to other settings.

For the most part, if you are working in an adorable little private therapy gym as an outpatient or inpatient therapist, you’ve got it great! Aside from sweating your face off when you are in an A/C battle with the speech therapists in your office, it’s a pretty comfortable environment. I can even get over the fact that I lift a few heavy kids and a bunch of 25 pound swings over my head about 50 times a day. So yeah, it’s pretty cushy.

However, did they realize that some crazy high percentage of pediatric OT’s are female? Phew, talk about stressful work environment. Passive aggressive notes about washing your dishes, anyone?

Ok, no, that’s still not that terrible. However, what about therapists that work in the homes of children? I have been in some pretty scary environments doing this job.
I had moments when I had to accept the fact that my car may or may not still be outside the house when I was done with the session. I had people attempt to siphon gas from my car. I got to the point where I really tried to stop freaking out when giant bugs or spiders crawled across the room, or even when I would stand up to find actual grease stains on my scrubs from kneeling on the carpet. Or what about the poop on the floor? I’ll say that again. Poop. On the floor. Maybe those Career Cast rankers want to ride along on some of those adventures.

Also, don’t forget to fill any of these previously mentioned environments with children that might have severe behavioral issues (including but not limited to: spitting, kicking, pinching, scratching, and punching) I might spend an hour session with someone literally screaming in my ear for 60 minutes. Not to mention siblings that might not be properly supervised tearing apart the room.
But on the flip side, sometimes I have little kids cracking me up with their adorable-ness, or just saying sweet things like, “I love playing here!” Now thats pretty darn amazing. Maybe that tips the scales a little… or a lot.

-Income-

This has to be a pretty big factor here, and I can’t blame anyone for looking at this aspect of a career closely. We all gotta pay our bills (and those nasty student loans). But the average salary they posted for an occupational therapist was $75,400. Where can I sign up for that job in my field?

Ok, since they are including all practice settings of occupational therapy, there are some people here that are weighing down the average. Typically, a pediatric OT makes about 30% or so less than in other settings. (I just guestimated that number, don’t hold me to it.) However, yes, you can make some pretty good money as a therapist. I even turned down (TURNED DOWN!) a job as a new grad in a nursing home for $80,000. I almost salivated at the offer. But why turn it down? For the most part, those jobs that pay really well come with their own price. Either the setting isn’t the greatest (This was a nursing home that was not well taken care of, and it showed), or the location itself isn’t the greatest. Anyone up for a pit stop in rural South Dakota? (No offense to SD, of course.)

So yes, even as a pediatric therapist I do feel like I make a decent salary. However, when I’m getting kicked or scratched on a sometimes daily basis, it might not quite feel like enough.

-Outlook-

The job outlook for our profession is great. I usually get a call or email at least once a day from a recruiter looking to fill open positions. However, these jobs are pretty much never near where I actually want to work. If you have no commitments and want to travel around, you could very easily do that. Plus if it came down the the worst possible scenario, I know I could move somewhere and easily find a job.

Compare that outlook to my husband who spent 7 months unsuccessfully looking for a job in his field. Now that’s scary. But remember what I mentioned before, those jobs with the nicest paychecks usually have some sort of catch to them.

You also have to consider that with all the “great outlook” and “top job” postings that OT has received in the media, there has been a huge outpouring of new graduates. They are freaking everywhere! While the need continues to rise for OT services, I can’t help but feel that the tables will eventually turn. I’ve already had my look at a few very heavily saturated markets that were extremely difficult to get a job in. So yes there is availability, but it depends on your flexibility.

-Stress-

Oh goodness. Who was it that said occupational therapy was low stress? Let me at ‘em. Now I know stress has a lot of different meanings, and for this article, they mentioned different types including high risk situations and tough deadlines. I don’t know about my fellow OTs, but this job can be incredibly stressful at times.

I’ve got kids that are screaming, parents with various demands and requests that I need to juggle, a high productivity expectation from my boss that just never seems to happen, as well as deadlines for paperwork that influence insurance coverage and essentially if treatment will be continued. I am scheduled with back to back sessions without a break to even go to the bathroom, and yet I need to write several 4 page narrative evaluations so that parents can understand what in the world OT actually is, and hopefully so insurance might actually pay for it.

There is emotional stress for challenging patient and family situations, as well as physical stress of lifting, assisting, or transferring children all day. If you don’t leave completely exhausted at the end of the day, you probably did something wrong.
Am I saying that my job is as stressful as say, some wall street trader? No. All I’m saying is that there are a lot of hidden stressors that people take for granted or overlook.

And yes it is fair to say that among all of this stress, there is a lot of fun to be had. We play, we are creative, and we try to help people change their lives. It can be incredible, but you can’t avoid the whole package.

So what can I say? This job does have its incredible satisfactions of goals achieved. My colleague and I were talking one day, and we decided that there seems to be just enough of those little “wins” throughout the week to get you through. Even when someone just isn’t making progress, or if a parent doesn’t really care about services, there might be that one child that does something amazing that you taught them, and you just can’t beat that.

All venting aside, OT is absolutely a great career. Our world isn’t always rainbows and roses though.  It’s sweat, occasional tears, and a whole lot of heart. I’d say we deserve to hang out on that top job list.

Posted in Insider Information, Lessons Learned, Occupational Therapy | Tagged | 21 Comments