Friday, July 29, 2011

Over Night Camp

I just returned from a wonderful over night camp for children with special needs. I was in a cabin with six campers and four other volunteers. My cabin was affectionately known as the spina bifida cabin because the majority of ours girls had spina bifida. This is not a diagnosis that I have not had a lot of experience with, so I learned a great deal and dealing with daily living skills is a whole new ballgame. All of our spina bifida girls had to use catheters to toilet. I expected it to all be the same, but they all had different systems and schedules. I knew there were different sizes and locations for catheters, but I didn’t realize that some allowed leakage and others prevented it. I was also learned about some of different variations of spina bifida. One of the campers was able to do short transfers by herself, while another had absolutely no feeling from the waist down. Overall, I was amazed by what they can do and they taught me a lot, but I should not be too surprised because after all they are adults just like me.

A few of the campers had family that coached wheelchair sports. The family came and brought extra chairs for the ambulatory campers and some of the counselors. I got to play and it was probably one of the best activities at camp. It was competitive and tough. It is something they are going to try to bring back next year. Half of my campers regularly play on the team and they say basketball is more fun. I hope I get to try it next year. They play near my parent's home, so I hope to see a game sometime soon.

The camp takes place at a camp owned by another organization that built the camp for children with a variety of challenges. The camp provides counselors to run the different activities, but each individual camp that is hosted that brings their own volunteers to be in the cabins the campers and guide the campers to the different to the different activities. They have banners all over the cafeteria and it was so cool to see the different camps that exist and talk to the counselors that work all the different camps. I discovered that my OT program their camp there. I am so excited. I knew my program had a camp for our summer semester. It counts as our pediatric level I fieldwork . One of the campers this week said he normally attends that camp too. It was a wonderful experience and I wish I had known wonderful camp and could have been working with them for years.

This Monday I move to school so posts will probably be spotty for a while, but how long can it take to unpack a one bedroom apartment. I have a feeling a good deal longer than I will want it to. School is getting closer everyday which is exhilarating and terrifying.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Babying Teachers

When I volunteer at one of the barns, there are a variety of therapists to talk to about school as well as a student doing her last fieldwork. We were talking during a break in between sessions and they started sharing some of their stories of school. One went to my school, but at a satellite location that I believe have since gone defunct and the other goes to another school in the state. One thing they mentioned was there were a lot of group projects. We are all annoyed by group projects, but understand that they are necessary. Honestly, my collaborating skills could use some improvement, so while this aspect of school will be frustrating at points it will be worth it in the end.

The other thing that was mentioned was that the professors babied the students. This is more worrying because this is not justifiable to me and a personal pet peeve. One of them had skipped a class one day to help a friend study for a neuro test later in the day and the professor called to see where she was. I guess it is nice that the professor cares, but on the other hand I am an adult and if I want to make mistakes that is my choice. There were several other stories told. With group projects there are certain strategies that I can use to problem solve, but with the professors babying the students I don’t know how to improve the experience. Overall I am excited for school to start, but this helps me remember that while it is a dream job there are some tough aspects.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Roller Coaster of Camp

This week of camp had some up and downs. First, I have to say I had wonderful volunteers. They were always encouraging the kiddos and wanting to have something to do. The downside to camp this year was one of my kiddos was sent home in the first hour because camp was not a good fit, and I had a child miss the last two days because she had a medical test. She told the best stories and had the best attitude. She told me she was determined to come back to camp before she left. The biggest downside was there was a child that was resistant to participating and when he was encouraged to do so he threatened the camp and staff. He became inappropriate and had to be told to stop. I had spoken to his family and the next morning I got a note from his family saying he was spoken to about the behavior, but he was also upset that the staff said they did not believe him. I do not remember that happening and I asked the family if they could give me more details about the incident so I could figure out what was happening, but the family just said they were disappointed because this camp is usually so accepting. That was heartbreaking. It was even worse because we never saw the child again.

There were a lot of upside though that made camp a wonderful experience I want to experience again. I had this one child that was terrified of getting in the pool. She loved to sit on the edge and splash though. We would put her in the pool for five minutes everyday though for the sensory experience. She would constantly say, "Sit, sit" when she was put in the pool. Then I had this great commonsense idea. Have her sit on the stairs inside the pool. She sat there happily. Her family was so proud when they picked her up. There was a child there that I work with at hippotherapy that was in another group at camp. When he saw me a big smile came on his face and he would greet me and tell me stories. I was so excited that he knew me because when he comes in for his sessions he likes to introduce himself and his family and ask me my name. It was good to know that I had made an impression. I also saw some of the kids that I worked with last year at camp. It was impressive to see how much they have grown and improved over the year. I also had a chance to work with some of the older kids which was a new experience. It is harder when I can't physically contain some of the children in difficult experiences. However, the conversations are more engaging. Overall camp was an phenomenal experience and that I want to do again. Seeing the children in tire swings and climbing on tightropes was mind-blowing. I hope me and the kiddos get to do it again.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Round-up of Pinterest

So a while back I told you about this cool site Pinterest. I am going to show you some of the hopefully useful ideas I have gathered so far.

Sound Memory

The first one could be use for sensory processing. It is a memory game where Easter eggs or some other containers are filled with different items, such as rice or beads. The child then needs to find the two that are the same. This could also work for turn taking. This was created by a Finnish blog.

Marshmallow Popper

The next idea is originally from the Real Simple magazine, which offers wonderful recipes and organization techniques as well as games to entertain kiddos. The activity that I liked is a mini-marshmallow popper. They took a paper cup and cut out the bottom. Then they took a balloon and cut of the top and attached the bottom half to the cup. The kiddo then pulls on the knot of the balloon and whatever is in the cup pops. I could see popcorn and fake bugs also being good items to put in the cup. This could work on hand strength probably.

Adaptive Silverware

This idea would be a simple improvement for people with arthritis or poor grip in general. It is taking grippy shelf liner and wrapping it around the handle so that it is wider for easier grip and the extra grippyness makes it easier to keep the grip. I lost the original source so if it was you or you know who let me so that they can get credit.

Activity Sticks

Keep Calm and Teach On offered up this concept. She has a basket of activities that her student's will grab from when they get restless. They will perform the activity for 1 minute and then get back to work. On her webpage, she lists the activities she uses for her second grade class. Many of these activities are very appropriate for a pediatric setting. I think with a little work therapists could come up with some good one minute activities for adults and geriatrics.

This week I worked a outdoor special needs camp. The heat here in Georgia is brutal and it shows in the staff and the kiddos. I had a huge breakthrough with a child today that I hope to share with you later this week.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Six Practice Areas

As I continue to learn more about occupational therapy before school starts, I thought I would review the six practice areas as outline by AOTA. The information they have is not very satisfying, but I did not examine the links. I am basing my reviews over all the information I have gathered so far. What is listed below is not necessarily fact, but my personal beliefs.

1.Children and Youth

This is the area I know the most about because it is where I have done all my volunteer work. Occupational therapists can work in schools, homes, hospitals, and other rehabilitation settings in this area. With my limited knowledge this is where I currently I want to work. According to my school 50% of their students end up working in this area for their first job. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) seems to be the big story in this area currently, but occupational therapists also treat autism and cerebral palsy as well as other disorders.

2. Health and Wellness

This area seems to be prevention based and heavily community based. Advocacy for better health and wellness to schools, communities, and the nation seem to come from here. I have yet to meet anyone from this area, but a few of the AOTA's podcasts seem to come from this area. Currently, I have a curiosity about the area, but I do not see it being a large part of my career directly.

3. Mental Health

This is another area that I know little about so far. I did read one blog where they did fieldwork in the mental health area. It is hard for me currently to imagine the goals one would create for people in this area. From what I can tell this appears to be one of occupational therapy's first areas, but then occupational therapy mostly abandoned this field for a time because of other professions joining this area. Lately, there have been strides for occupational therapy to really get back in the field of mental health. I think this would be an area I would like to experience.

4. Productive Aging

This is an area that has grown and will grow tremendously as the baby boomers continue to age. This is also an area where there is a lot of money to be made I have heard. I think this would be a very interesting population to work with filled with stories, but this population also scares me because I think I would have a hard time instructing and pushing someone older than me because of my raising. I am also scared of this area because I feel like it is more about preventing decline than it is about improving living quality because of the population. This is an area of mixed feelings, but an area where occupational therapy is making huge strides and I can't wait to see how it continues to evolve.

5. Rehabilitation, Disability, and Participation

A few of the blogs I have read mention experiences in this area. This is what I associate with occupational therapy when I am not considering a pediatric setting. In this area, I also picture the colliding of physical and occupational therapists the most. I picture most occupational therapists in this area working in a hospital or rehab setting, but I can also see them doing home modifications or modifying the community. I would love to work with a client trying to get their community work best for them so that they can achieve more.

6. Work and Industry

This is what people think of when I mention occupational therapy and they have never heard of it before, but this is a section I have very little knowledge. I did hear on AOTA podcast that talked about developing better workspaces. I have also heard the green movement and ergonomics being part of this area too. I could not see this as the focus as my practice, but I could see the findings of this area influencing whatever I do decide to practice.

I have mentioned that I prefer certain areas to others, but I do not mean to limit myself. I am trying to be honest with myself at the moment. When I was first introduced to occupational therapy, I did not see myself having a career in the field either. I think it is important to go to my classes and different experiences with an open mind and an understanding of what makes me uneasy about a particular area. Often the uneasiness will go away with experience and knowledge and little will limit me. It seems so weird that school is just a little over a month away. It has felt so far away for so long. The reality that I am going to school to be an occupational therapist is finally starting to sink in. There is a lot of excitement in this, but there is also some fear and worry. I have wanted this for so long and what if it does not work out or I hate it. I believe in every big change there is some trepidation, especially if you enjoy the way things are. Well with that enjoy your 3 day weekend.