Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Real World Lessons

This week many exciting things have been happening. First, I have started one of my camps for kids with special needs, but before I go on and on about it I am going to tell you about a lesson that I learned this week that I think it is going to be important to keep in mind as an occupational therapist. I have started to furniture shop for the apartment I am moving into for occupational therapy school. The biggest worry was a couch because I cannot put together a couch and my car certainly cannot fit a couch into it. I did my research and determined Craig's List was my best bet for a couch and I was going to have to pay $100-150. I did checked out a few couches and I was disappointed, and it was finally suggested that I check out Goodwill, which is 10 minutes from my house. It is my new favorite store for at the very least housewares. I got a nice couch (for a college kid) for less than $40. That means I can get a chair now! I learned that you may think you have done your research and discovered the best way, but there are always things you did not think of or that you underestimated.

Okay now onto camp and some more lessons. I am with 8 5-7 year olds and three other volunteers. I was warned about two of the campers being a particular handful. I was excited that I had three typical children that could lend a helping hand,and that one of the volunteers had done the camp last year and knew what was going on. I am happy to say that those two "trouble" campers have been not been the biggest handful. The biggest handfuls are the typical kids because they have a full range of movement and always have a counselor tied up literally. The staff and the counselors have been trying to encourage them to help, but they just want to have fun and we want them to have that too so it is a weird balance that I have not quite figured out yet. The challenges that you thought would be hard can be not an issue, while the non-issues can become hurdles.

One of the most interesting challenges was a child with autism came in and would not sit by everyone because they were weird. He was not trying to mean, but he was overwhelmed and did not know how to process everything. I told him that everybody was just being themselves because it was true that the situation was weird. He did end up integrating into the group; however, he still avoids the less functioning children. Progress is being made though. His mother was so horrified when I told her about his original behavior and took action by talking to him and having him apologize the next day. It was nice to see a parent not let child slide by due the child's own challenges, which I might have done.

One more quick story and I will sign off and maybe do some real homework. In one of the hippotherapy sessions, the therapist had a child lay out a Special Olympics course. As a natural reaction, I asked if he was competing this year. His mother was so appalled. I was shocked that a family member of someone with special needs could find the idea degrading. On the other hand, I do understand from where she is coming from. Everyday I am learning something new and I am so happy that I am having this experiences even before I enter school. I having a feeling this experiences will be quite valuable. I might not post for a while because camp wears me out, but keep looking because I am sure there are more stories to come.

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