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Showing posts from October, 2005

Writing as occupation

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I spend my time thinking about the topic of writing as occupation and whether or not it carries any therapeutic benefits. Here is an interesting article that caught my eye: Writing helping young Katrina survivors. I'd love to discuss these ideas with other people, so here are my thoughts - if anyone is interested.

Why would people be interested in the private writings of another person? Bunkers and Huff (1996) explain that "diaries are not so much inclusive because they contain everything from a given day, as they are inclusive in the sense that they do not privilege 'amazing' over 'ordinary' events." This celebration of the ‘ordinary’ is a longstanding theme in understanding meaningful occupation. Diary writing and diary reading provides a vehicle of social connectedness through the ordinary. This is a human need and is the basis of interactivity between the writer and the reader.

The use of the diary as an interactive tool provides an example of what Rowl…

Missing Stephen

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I was invited to teach a class at Keuka College. I used to be on the faculty there so it was something of a return for me. Although I thoroughly enjoy what I do, I have to admit that I miss teaching.


The students were leaving the room, and I sat in the front of the class as is my custom and I watched them as they moved on with their day. Then they were all gone. As I turned out the lights in the room where the students had been just a few moments earlier, I felt a little sadness that I was alone. I considered how the room had been busy and full of chatter and even some excitement. We were learning about evidence based practice and early intervention.

As I sat alone in the room, on a mat table in the corner, I remembered Stephen.

Stephen was probably the most learning disabled child I have ever worked with. This will undoubtedly be very difficult for anyone to understand who does not know about learning disabilities. These kids walk and talk and superficially appear just like every other…

Ways to convey occupation

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I had a busy day today. I feel like expressing the daily variation in my clinical responsibilities. These are all single-frame descriptions. If you read them quickly, maybe you will see me moving. Is this the nature of disconnected discourse? How can I make this 'real' for you?

My first task was to attend a planning meeting for a young child who has high functioning autism. He just transitioned into a kindergarten classroom and the parents asked me to participate. I have known this child for two years and had some input that was hopefully useful to the educational team. This meeting went well. Phew, they don't always.

Next I had a phone conference regarding a 4th grade child in a distant school district. The family traveled a great distance to see me and I spent a full day (a couple weeks ago) completing one of our infamous 'intensive' evaluations. This CSE meeting also went well, so I was feeling pretty lucky at this point.

Then I drove to see a little friend, just 1…

on being off course

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I’m in Chicago tonight. This is my last bit of travel for the rest of the year. I never expected to have to travel much when I chose this occupation, but this year alone I have been sleeping in hotels for over 40 nights, not counting three weeks of vacation this year. In other words, it is good that I work for myself because no employer in his right mind would ever tolerate this. In fact, if I wasn’t so invaluable to the organization I would probably fire myself. This is the insanity speaking; it was that kind of a day.

I saw a group (not really enough to call them a flock) of seagulls today while driving to the airport. No big deal, except that they had located themselves in the middle of some completely landlocked farmland. Not a speck of water in site: no major rivers, no major ponds or lakes around for miles. And certainly not the ocean.

Although to be technically correct I guess there is no such thing as a 'seagull.' I whipped out my Peterson's field guide and saw that …

small differences in perception

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I am having one of those days where I am not communicating clearly. At first it was just at work but in preparation for this entry I found that I also can't communicate with my own children. While taking the picture above I was having a hard time finding a suitable background that had enough light but not too much glare.

I said to my daughter - "Go find me something that I can use as a backdrop that can absorb some of the light so I don't have so much glare. She gave me a sponge, obviously interpreting 'absorb' a little too literally. Note to self: daughter needs basic lesson in physics of polarization.

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Today I was working with Adam, who is a wonderful seven year old boy with superior intelligence and some gross motor delays. After some vigorous activity using the suspension equipment, I thought it would be a good idea to transition him back to his parents with a quiet activity so he wouldn't be bouncing around the car during the ride home.

"Let's pla…

Cameron's Heart

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Cameron was not impressed to see me. He had been kicked enough, I was sure, and did not need to have some other adult come into his life (only to leave, eventually). Still, his cardiologist wanted me to see him, to get him out of bed, and perhaps to do a little 'attitude de-funking.' Of course the script wouldn't say that exactly, but that is what the doctor asked me to do with him.

Cameron was spending most of his time in bed, and it was complicating his status on the heart donor list. He was born with a rare condition called transposition of the great arteries - basically, the plumbing in his heart was all mixed up. He had gone through several cardiac surgeries in his life and there really was little else that the surgeons could do except wait for a new heart to come along. The problem was that Cameron was just wasting away in bed, and his inactivity and poor nutrition were complicating his immune status, and this in turn could have potentially compromised his ability to …

why he writes

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I received an email earlier this week, asking me 'why' I write here. That was a hard question. Interacting in people's lives every day makes me think of so many stories, and sometimes I am not sure where to begin to make sense of it all. Writing them down helps me to understand them in the present, just long enough sometimes to begin to understand. T.S. Eliot wrote:

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

Writing helps me to understand the dance.

first grade confessions

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I had the privilege of observing a child in their school this week, and I spent a few hours watching the typical routines of the classroom. I was a little surprised at the amount of information that some of the kids shared with me.

I love talking with children. They interest me, generally far more than adults do. What I like best is that there can be gaps in the conversation and you can drop a subject or pick up a subject easily. I think I also appreciate the eye contact that children give me - which is generally more than adults do. Lots of adults don't stop to notice that kids are really good at visually attending to a conversation. I think they are often too busy talking to other adults, or they are above the eye level of the kids, or just too preoccupied to notice.

Anyway, Rachel had me enraptured. She is one of the children in the class, and her eye contact was just so wonderful while we talked. I also caught her studying me several times during the day so I would smile at her.…

Child Pedestrian Safety

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I hope that everyone has the opportunity to read the latest study about child pedestrian safety. I have the press release, report, and safety tips available for download on the ABC Therapeutics website in the 'NEWS' and 'RESOURCES' sections.

Nationwide, pedestrian injuries are the number two cause of accidental death among children ages 5 to 14. Each year in the United States, approximately 650 children are killed and 43,000 treated in emergency rooms as a result of pedestrian injuries.

The total annual cost of traffic-related pedestrian death and injury among children ages 14 and under is $5.2 billion.

We haven't gotten many calls on this issue - but hope that this will begin to raise awareness!

An OT's thoughts on Love Canal

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I am reduced to recycling my writing - but I have abused my responsibility to write in here so I feel the need to fill it up... I could focus on writing more if... (I won't bore anyone with excuses).

Because I have been so chipper and upbeat lately I decided to take a drive through a former toxic waste dump. Don't ask me why; I have no answers.

I don't live near this place, but it is not far to drive. Everyone has heard of Love Canal, but I felt some compelling reason to visit today - I have never been there before.

Perhaps this was prompted by someone giving me directions to their home recently. "It is on such and such street, but not on the Love Canal side." She said it with a conviction, and a hope. I didn't understand, so I decided that I better visit the Love Canal side of such and such street.
I hang out in Niagara Falls way too much. I have done some amateur anthropological studies, based on narrative searches for truth about why it is the way it is. I hav…