Saturday, June 23, 2012
Check out Bill's second post about becoming an OT, below.
After I got out of undergrad, I was confident that I could get a job. I had a decent GPA. I believe that I have a good attitude once I land a job, since I am hoping to move on the career ladder once I gather more experiences. Unfortunately, it was also the beginning of the economic recession that we are still in right now. After a year of unsuccessful job hunt, my mom started talking to me about the possibility of going to school again.
Business school was the first thing my family considered. It is close to home in regards to what my strengths and weaknesses were. So, I took the GMAT. However, like what I have done on standardized tests, my so-so verbal skills caused me to only get a 560 on it. With a 560, I know I couldn't get into a decent business school. Considering the economy situation, not getting into a great business school could mean a bad return on my family's investment. So, there went the idea of going to business school.
Seminary was next on the list. I had been involved in church events for the past few years prior to that point. I also had come and know some people who have since become clergies today. Lastly, I have a knack of writing Christian things. However, everything came to a screeching halt when it comes to job prospects. Because of my language skills, I most likely will be working in an Episcopal Church with a lot of Chinese Christians in the US. As I remembered the insider information about the prospective Chinese churches I might be working at, what they might be able to offer me would definitely not be a great return for my family's investment. Also, it was very likely I have to move out on my own, which would mean an extra set of expenses in just to make a living as a clergy.
Then, my mom repeatedly mentioned health care to me. Unfortunately, because of the C's I had in Anatomy and Physiology in high school, I was very hesitant to try anything health care related, as I was in this state for a couple months or so. But as I continued to fail to land a job, I knew I had to suck up and try even in the midst of doubts. So, my mom talked to me about occupational therapy, as she learned about it through her interactions with a school-based OT through her job as an office administrator at an elementary school nearby where we live now. In October 2008, that was when I took the leap of faith to get my pre-requisites done in hopes of getting into an occupational therapy program some point in the 2009-2010 school year.
Most of my pre-requisite classes went smoothly. I also got a decent GRE score, largely thanks to a perfect score on the GRE Math section. Because of that, I got the good news of being accepted to USC's Occupational Therapy program. Then, I was down to my least favorite pre-requisites, Anatomy and Physiology. My mom and I thought that 5-week intensive course for each of the subjects would be a quick and relatively not as painful way to get them done in early 2009. Physiology turned out to be OK, as I got a B despite I stumbled late. My first attempt at Anatomy, however, was a struggle. Despite doing decently on one test, I was facing a tough dilemma. On top of the fact that I was sick, I was in grave danger of not passing the course by the add/drop deadline. After weighing the odds, I decided a restart was probably the best move- even though the restart will be 4 weeks before the start of occupational therapy school for the 2009-2010 school year in summer 2009. After all, it was a now or never time then. Fortunately, because of the preparation work I did (through UC Berkeley Anatomy podcasts I was able to watch repeatedly online), I was able to get through the course.
When I first started occupational therapy school in summer 2009, I anticipated a tough transition. I knew nothing about the field. Having never seen what an OT does in any setting made matters worse. I didn't have the type of background or experiences like my classmates had. Lastly, because I was coming from a department that curved a lot of its students' grades, I had lost the relative sense of knowing how I well I would be really doing grades wise. Little did I know, it was a lot tougher than I anticipated!
First, there were a lot of women as my classmates, as they represented over 90% of the entire class. So, I knew I have to make friends with at least some of my female classmates. Second, I constantly got C's or D's in my Kinesiology and Neuroscience exams in the first semester. Making matters worse, I was among the bottom dwellers despite studying at the library into the evening almost every weekday. Fortunately, I was able to save myself from repeating both of these classes (as that would have cost me another year in my occupational therapy journey). Also, I was able to come out of my shell to develop friendships with my classmates.
The fall and semester were better for me, as I was able to get into the swing of things a little better. I began to know the key theories that are vital to the occupational therapy profession and for each of the specific disciplines. But since I still felt like I didn't know as much about occupational therapy as I would have liked, I decided to go to the OTAC Annual Conference in 2009, as well as the AOTA conference in 2010. Through these experiences, I felt I have closed the knowledge gap between my classmates and I. Little did I know, my fieldwork eventually let me know something that I didn't know- my diagnosis of Asperger's.
Fieldwork was a struggle for me. I anticipated some of it because I never really had seen what each OT setting was like before. Moreover, I knew I was still trying to grasp what I was observing. But, all my CI's from level 1 and my CI from my first level 2 all noticed one thing that I previously was not aware of- my difficulty of picking up people's social cues. When I read that on my evaluations, I was like, "Huh? I was really that bad at this?"
After my first 2 level 1 CI's gave me such comments, I came across a section about children with autism where I had to read for my pediatrics class. When I finished the reading, my jaws dropped because my mind kept on recalling what I experienced in my elementary school days in Hong Kong. To satisfy my curiosity, I took a few autism quotient tests online, which I was scored in the autistic range. With all these "evidence" in hand, I began to wonder if I have autism. But, my parents talked me out of it at the time because they thought that if I can be in the occupational therapy profession, I shouldn't have autism.
In summer 2010, I was excited to go to level 2 fieldwork like the rest of my classmates. I thought I was doing well when I received a decent 4 week review (which is something all USC OT students will get at the 4-week mark for their fieldwork assignments). However, the midterm review left me stunned. Sure, I fell behind in documentations. I also accidentally made a client angry. Lastly, one of my CI's surprised me by role playing as a client in one of the groups I was supposed to lead, which caught me off guard. Yet, when I saw my midterm score, I was shocked to see I was miles away from where I needed to be at the midway point. On top of that, I saw the very same comment as my level 1's- poor ability to read clients' social cues.
Upon reading that midterm evaluation in early July 2010, I knew my chances of passing weren't good. So, I made a painful decision to withdraw from my level 2 fieldwork, even though I know the consequences of doing so in this manner was considered a fail. I sobbed as I told my parents of my decision. Then, I continued saying, "I have seen comments like this way too many times despite trying very hard. I need to know what is going on. Now I have nothing to lose in trying to see if my hunches of having autism was right."
A few days after that discussion, I arranged to see the clinical psychologist for a screening. 30 minutes later, she followed through by giving me a referral for a neuropsychological testing, which I was able to arrange for one a week later. Then, I awaited for the results, which I eventually learned the results on August 19, 2010.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
I always forget to dot my i's. I realized today, the dot of an i is really an I-BALL! like an eyeball! Get it? So now I'm always like "don't forget your i-ball"....also, if the kid forgets their period, it's usually part of my attack game. I tell them don't forget your guard bug or the worms will eat your ENTIRE SENTENCE!!! etc etc. lol
I'm quite possibly the weirdest OT in the world :)
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Oh my this picture is risque! While my social media group was preparing for Indiana conference, one time we all signed onto Google + for our meeting and three of us were in bed! (Me, Anita, and Erik). I think Cheryl would have been in bed if she wasn't so old school with her technology. :) LOVE it!! This is why Virtual OT is awesome.
Another thing I want to do is .... the PTA often ties ribbons for various events to the chain link fences...I want to have my kids do the same....like if we see red ribbons are up, we can add our own to work on tying, and they know they helped decorate the school! Again principal confirmed this would be okay. :)
I think both of these could be used with older kids or even in rehab settings....teaching what "eye bombing" meant to a creative/adventurous grown-up then walking around getting festive with googley eyes! :)
PS: When I told one of my favorite moms about the eye bombing, she was like, "so you're teaching my child how to grafitti? AWESOME!" and gave me a high five. AHAHAHAHA
To be fair, I did warn the kids they could only do this with an adult, with permission... ;)
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Friday, June 15, 2012
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Monday, June 11, 2012
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Occupational Therapy: Ideas for Fine Motor Centers and More!
http://pinterest.com/funkist/ot-ideas < -- start here for tons of fine motor craft ideas I have found that are great for young children and easy to implement
The following are things to work on to help children improve their fine motor coordination and strength, which can help their handwriting, and please note many of these activities could fall under MANY categories.
· Precision (carefully manipulating tiny objects)
o Cut up straws, then bead onto pipe cleaners
o Beading onto pipe cleaners or tiny strings, or through colanders
o Placing marbles on top of golf tees that the child has stuck into Styrofoam
o Place beads/items on skewers placed in Styrofoam in various directions
o Stack very small blocks
o Match a bead pattern on a skewer to another skewer (on Styrofoam)
o "Tight rope" – have them place small items on thick taut band that has been wrapped around a box, and/or have them hold a popsicle stick in the air in one hand, and place tiny objects
o Folding paper, ie very basic origami
· Tripod grasp (holding items with 3 fingers, not all five)
o Clothespins [wolves] and cotton balls [sheep] game
o Any type of tweezers or tongs, picking up objects and transferring them [I use ice cube trays]. Ensure only using 3 fingers by giving them something to hold curled up in their last two fingers if necessary.
o Push pins and corkboard – with supervision
· Open web space ("OK" sign) – look at thumb to index finger
o Making the OK sign, pulling the OK sign apart, finger exercises
o Picking up tiny objects using small eraser ends (those little rubber erasers you can put on the end of pencils – using those as tiny tongs!)
· Strengthening of hands, upper arms/extremities (strong core/arms helps with fine motor coordination)
o Arms: Do a lot of "crawling" or "animal walks", weight-bearing into arms, while moving from center to center or during physical education
o Arms: Wheelbarrow walks
o Squeeze stress balls
o Use play-doh to roll out logs, circles, squish thin on table, etc. Also remember they love "adult" tools – cheap 50 cent putty "knives" [make sure they aren't sharp!] at hardware store, etc
o Stamping – make it harder by having them repeat a pattern of some sort, and or stamping into a small area for precision
o Turkey basters/eye droppers for water to "wash" things or to melt colors etc on coffee filters
o Tear out of a piece of an old phone book, crumble up the paper in ONE HAND with the hand in the air, then throw to "hungry shark" aka recycle bin
o Rip paper into wading pool or tray
o Use "tennis ball heads" (tennis balls that you put a "mouth" aka a gash on – (be REALLY careful when cutting it! I use a clamp!) Then squeeze their sides to open their mouth to feed them, then – the popular part - make them throw up. Small sizes from pet stores best for smaller hands.
o Wrap rubber bands, or hair bands, around boxes or containers
o Geoforms – pegboards where you stretch rubber bands to make shapes or letters
o Place golf tees into left-over Styrofoam
· Manipulating a pencil (Twirling it in dominant hand, "walking" fingers from tip to eraser and back, and turning it over to erase using only one hand.)
o Practice ERASING. Kids struggle with the act of turning over the pencil with one hand to erase (they either put it down and pick it back up, or use their chest, or other hand, etc) – Practice this move but also practice the act of erasure itself. IE draw a line, flip over pencil, erase. TEACH how to erase. A lot of kids don't do it very well and need guidance.
· Shifting items within hands (picking up tiny items, placing into hand, then picking up the next item, etc, with 1 hand only) – I call it "squirreling", ie storing nuts in a cheek – storing items in part of the palm)
o Coins for piggy bank or tiny items into ice cube trays
· Isolating fingers on command (ie show me your index finger, show me your ring finger, etc)
o Make each finger "bow" or place fingers flat on desk, lift one at a time
o Put a smiley face or drawing in a laundry detergent cap or on a tennis ball, then have the child use just the fingers of one hand to rotate the "face" around.
· Directionality (up, down above, beside, etc) and lefts/rights
o Incorporate "I Spy" and scanning games where child has to look for items by directions, ie "Look below the X"
o Consider placing a small L and R on the children's desks or on their hands each day with water-soluble nontoxic markers.
o When walking places around campus, stop at turns and ask them which way to turn.
o Great game called Left, Center, Right, for about 7 dollars you can buy at many toy stores or Target/Wal-Mart etc
· Visual motor (using their eyes with their hands more so than in some other tasks)
o Bendaroos/WikiStix – they can work on copying a design or writing own name or spelling words
o Stacking up cubes of different colors/sizes then have child copy design
o Marble/cup game, rolling across a table
o Lacing & buttoning – big buttons are easier. Big laces too.
o Sign language alphabet
o Sort cards by suite
o Balloon tapping – blow a few up, have the children keep in the air without touching ground as long as possible
· Proprioception/tactile – knowing what their hands are doing/feeling without looking
o Hiding objects in a bag or box game, figuring out what it is/manipulating it without looking. Start with easy discrimination such as long skinny cylinder versus fat round ball, then make more difficult as child has success
o Moving or isolating their fingers with eyes closed
o Consider different types of scissors for struggling kids (scissors requiring less fine motor skills – ask an OT)
o Start with snipping, cutting straws, and business cards and manila envelopes
· Notes for older kids, ie 2nd grade:
o Make sure – don't assume – they can manipulate their pencil accurately and erase accurately as well. Watch them.
o Shoe tying: If they still haven't gotten this down – try having their laces in a single shoe be two different colors, ie neon blue on left side of one shoe, yellow on other side, so that when tying they can clearly see distinction between the two laces, ie "put the blue lace over the yellow", etc.
o Desk Organization: TEACH this skill, ie "hard" books on one side, "soft" books on the other, small items in a basket, etc. No assumptions they know how to organize.
o Office Supplies: Expose them to rubber bands, paper clips, hole punching, staples, tape, placing numbered or categorized papers into certain folders (ie papers with MATH on top go in Math folder – make sure they know how to actually put the piece of paper in properly).
o Fidgets: A pipe cleaner on their pencil, a piece of yarn or two, can make a good fidget for a child who needs to play with their hands while listening.
Some pieces of advice?
1. LOTS of gross motor time – play outside, dig for worms, run around screaming, swing, go to the playground, whatever.
2. Limit screen time and pull out lots of crafts. I guarantee you they will ultimately benefit more from interaction in the 3-D world than ANY educational screen time. See pinterest account up top for tons of fun ideas. Maybe let the kid pick from the pictures!
3. Don't assume a child knows how to do anything (most especially when working with children with special needs). TEACH the skill – erasures, pencil manipulation, desk organization, folder organization, cutting tricks, etc.
4. Oh yeah. Safety comes first. Don't let kids swallow stuff, or stab themselves or each other, blah blah blah – supervise your children and ensure the activities are safe for their age and/or developmental level.
Final note: Yes, many of these activities would be great for people working on their fine motor skills for ANY reason, including adults after a stroke!
Friday, June 8, 2012
Some of the things I want to do differently I TALKED about last summer but never implemented, either because of time or fatigue or blah blah blah. I did learn SO much this year, a phenomenal amount, but of course I have so much more to know/learn. I have so many resources I want to examine closely this summer! It's all scaffolding - it's like I look at things and can't memorize them yet because too much scaffolding isn't there, but eventually can go back and it makes more sense/is easier to memorize because the data has gotten filled in with experience/time etc.
Some of my goals for next year....
1. Try not to schedule kids during times of day that I know I am typically dragging, if at all possible, lol. Save that for paperwork/other things.
2. Try to be better about tabulating minutes I'm spending on e-mails or in quick convos, as they add up...
3. Provide more homework.
4. Do all my documentation DAILY in ALL redundant spots.
5. Put together my "go to" items, print or copy a bunch of them, and save them all in one organized spot, rather than constantly re-searching for stuff.
6. Start the year with every single one of my kids, based on their cognitive level, knowing exactly my name, my title, what OT is, why they are coming to OT, and what their goals are, and making sure I have phone numbers and e-mail addresses of all parents.
7. Printing out all goals in a format that lets me write directly on that piece of paper on their progress, and trying to divide up my sessions into always specifically addressing a goal for part of it, and then another part of it working on skills that address that goal. IE if the goal is board copying....specifically spend a few mins COPYING from the board, but then another few minutes doing visual motor tasks, near/far tasks, etc, that are foundational.
8. Work on rewards that are more sticker based or "time" based rather than candy....and ideally try to use my psych background to figure out ways to fade extrinsic rewards into more intrinsic rewards....
9. Have children who are working on handwriting repeat an identical 1-2 sentences every month and keep it carefully filed so each month we can compare progress.
10. Continue trying to incorporate more academics into each session,and not be a "clinic" OT in a school. I've come a long way in that arena, but can keep going.
11. Collaborate more with teachers to ensure more carryover and allow the teacher to feel more vested in OT time.
12. Try to push into the classroom rather than pull out as often as possible
13. Do workshops for K, 1, 2, for each of my four schools...have done one school and got great feedback...we also did instructional assistants for the district....
I have been working SO much on this paperwork......I really wanted to be done by tonight but alas, I have one more school to go, paperwork wise. Tomorrow I am doing a hike with some speech coworkers and lunch, then nails done for the trip, then some shopping for the trip, and then back to work!! I also need to organize all my toys!! I am a toy monster. Today I was sitting in a conference room and thank goodness we have a lazy janitor, as I spotted one of my mini figurines on the floor in front of me!! Yay! (Sometimes I work in there with kids if all other rooms are taken)
I am um, obviously, just rambling. I'm tired. I'm stressed. I am super glad to go on this trip, although part of me wishes I had more time before I left to work on getting affairs in order, but when I get back I hope to get on the OT bandwagon and get lots of work done to help start off the school year better. And hey robbers, other people live here, so me going on a trip means nothing. Just sayin'.
Ok my battery is dying. Good night....
Thursday, June 7, 2012
|This is a kid with pretty significant difficulties in the sense that when I asked him to draw a banana, this is what he drew, and thought it looked great. The wiggles aren't due to lack of coordination, just how he chose to do that.....|
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
PS - There is no rhyme or reason to the next few weeks of scheduled postings....totally miscellaneous. Whatever i felt like. Just finished writing up some big reports - the possum in my bedroom kinda distracted me a while so now it's past 1am and I have to be up at 6am for another busy, busy day. Better try to get some sleep.
PS2 - I just discovered Draw Something (app on iphone) and I loooooooooove it. I'm a little slow to join the crowd sometimes but hey I get there eventually.
PS3: I think I mentioned this but I plan to get through emails/comments while I have a day or so in Alabama alone.
PS4: AOTA CONFERENCE IS IN SAN DIEGO NEXT YEAR WHICH MEANS PARTY AT MY HOUSE WHICH MEANS IF YOU READ THIS BLOG (and uh, you are an OT or OT student), YOU BETTER COME TO SAN DIEGO NEXT APRIL OR I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU AND I MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE HAD A LOT OF COFFEE EARLIER TODAY
Monday, June 4, 2012
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Sunday, June 3, 2012
This picture is of me holding a beloved sloth in Peru or Brazil or Colombia on an island off the Amazon River in the Amazon Jungle, the fall before I started this job. I am about to finish my first full school year! :)
I changed the title of my blog because I honestly could never remember the title of it, plus the parentheses were a pain. Anybody have any thoughts on the matter? Because we know it's as important as world peace....No? Okay moving on....this is going to be my random update.
I have five days of work left (would be 10 more, but I'm leaving early for a special trip). In that five days, I have about 10 days of work left, including SIX IEP meetings, one of which is an initial, two are triennials, and four are annuals. Two of those meetings promise to be quite....invigorating, shall I say. I'm also going to try to see ALL my kids one last time, if at all possible, even if just for a few minutes, to check on their goals for final progress reports and to say good bye to my little ones!! ANYWAY besides basic work I have to catch up on all documentation/logs for the year, close up everything, blah blah blah - busy busy busy week. And prep for the trip! Luckily I have next weekend to pack, finish shopping, etc.
So since I do have SO MUCH WORK TO DO, I've decided to blog. AHAHAHAA. My classic procrastination tool. But I also feel like this blog is part of my professional identity, even if it is quirky, so I feel like in a way, it is my job, but in a good way. But since I'm going to be abroad for a month, I am scheduling posts for while I am away. Most of them are short, one picture, one caption posts - all my serious ones will have to wait! I may bring the serious stuff with me to Alabama for before/after the trip, to try and do while my friends are at work.
Hey Cookie boy - you will get your cookies soon, I haven't forgotten.
I don't know if all y'all have noticed that the blog now links to missawesomeness.com....not sure if that affects your RSS feeds or not. I eventually want to try to build up missawesomeness with products etc as I have lots of inventions....just haven't gotten them all the way to production yet. It's part of my future though, LOL. My talented friend Kellie of fuelhaus.com (branding company) designed this logo for me....she was showing me its rough draft hence the little eyedropper tool in there....I love it. :) I want to maybe have Abilitations sell my inventions, but I'm concerned about the future as eventually I'd love to host my own products and perhaps those of TherapyFunZone.com! Tonya of that site is my online OT website mentor as she gets tons more page views than I do....although I'm getting up there. I think last month I had almost 10,000 page views! :) And I'm finally over the 300,000 mark! Of course it took me 5 years to get there, haha. Oops off on the tangent. Back to Miss A....
I have a lot of kids who either call me Miss Awesome or Miss Awesomeness...they remember it way better than Miss Karen...and a lot of their parents and/or teachers call me that too. The other day though I was frantically loading stuff into my car because I was acidentally blocking end of day traffic (long story, I would NEVER do that normally, I think it's evil) anyway - I finally realized a kid was saying "Miss Awesome" to me repeatedly and turned around and he was just wanting to say hi. I was like awww lol. And when I walk into this one classroom for my kid all the other kids say in a chorus "Good morning Miss Awesome" AHAHAHAHA....
Of course plenty more call me Miss Karen and there are many many times in which I am NOT miss awesome. Like on Thursday morning when I was on day 2 of a juice cleanse that I was doing with a few co-workers. Man, I'm a pretty nice person, but it's a good thing I didn't have access to weapons that morning!! Sugar withdrawal = headache = not a nice person. Just kidding, kind of. I was still appropriate but internally, whooie.