Occupational therapy self-reflection/rambling/thinking out loud

I can't even begin to tell you guys how many general education teachers come up to me these days, even those I've never had, to ask me questions, talk to me, tell me what they are doing, mention another teacher showed them something, etc etc. I love it. It makes me super happy. Having general education teachers aware of issues and working on preventing them/catching them early makes OT lives – and the lives of the kids – so much better in the long run. One kinder teacher told me she had all her kids cut straws the other day and how quiet they all were and how much they loved it. Another kinder teacher told me she was doing her fine motor centers – which she implemented after our inservice – and the assistant superintendant came in during some school rounds and was quite intrigued and asked her a lot of questions and she told him about the OT inservice. Another 1st gr teacher at another school told me about how they went out and bought a bunch of (cheap) items after the inservice to use in their room, another 1st gr teacher told me how she has her class do the finger exercises (things like touching each finger to their thumb)….On and on and on. 
I've been asked what we did. Basically we just did three or four stations, lets say each table holds 10 teachers. (A combination of gen ed, special ed, psychologists, APE, speech therapists, etc). Each station was 15 minutes. One was fine motor, one was handwriting, one was sensory motor and/or self-regulation/movement in the classroom depending on if there were 3 or 4 of us OTs. We did this same inservice for our special ed instructional assistants and they all talked about how it was by far their favorite session of the YEAR. None of us had Powerpoints or a set presentation, rather we each had a few hand-outs at best and then talked through them, demonstrating with hands-on. I had my teachers beading straws on pipe cleaners, sticking golf tees in styrofoam, “squirreling” coins, using clothespins and cotton balls and how to use them in math centers, etc etc. All of us focused on fast, quick, easy, cheap, efficient, INSTANT things to do in the classroom, no thought process needed. They all left ready to incorporate things they had learned at each of our tables, the next day. I know in my case I had about 45 minutes of stuff to show in a 15 minute session, so I warned them at the beginning that we were going to go super fast because it was all such straight-forward ideas.  A lot of them had their own great ideas they had learned/implemented.  If you have access to a great polished Powerpoint that's interesting, great, use it, be merry. But if you're just an OT or two on your own and struggling…Be casual. Invite a bunch of staff on a good afternoon to meet you in a conference room, bring a crapload of stuff to touch or look at, and a handout or two, and just give them some easy tricks you use every day that many of them just don't know. Don't let it stress you out. And the more gen-ed staff you “touch” now, the easier your life will be when you have kids in those classes in the future as they already know and trust you. 
I have definitely noticed there tends to be a special ed – SPED – group and gen-ed group….And always a few teachers/staff that are bridges, but typically the groups mostly segregate. I love both groups and love how many gen ed teachers consider me their friend. Makes my job so much easier in the long run. (Yeah yeah, boundaries are important too…) 🙂 But a lot of gen ed teachers get nervous when you push-in or come observe, when you are just a random staff person…When they know and trust you, they relax and let you into their environment much easier. 
Other things. The other day I was in an IEP meeting and we discussed how a hallmark of neurological dysfunction is being inconsistent. Pretty sure I'm basically quoting that but I forget from what book, maybe Out of Sync Child. Sorry. Anyway, one of the special ed staff stopped and looked at me and at the end, she wanted to talk about her aging mother and her inconsistency. We talked a lot about beginning dementia, neurology, aging in place, validation theory, etc, from the OT standpoint and how to explain things to her siblings. Today, she stopped me to let me know how helpful that discussion was, and how it was so amazing to realize how much more I knew as an OT than just what she normally saw in the schools. IE, she thinks of me as an OT, but thinks of me as a school OT, therefore knowing about things like fine motor skills. She hadn't realized the extent of my knowledge base as an OT and it made her also realize that as a school team we often don't realize how far-reaching and extensive ALL of our knowledge bases are in topics not related to school! I was very pleased it meant so much to her and it made me happy too, dusting off rusty neurons from my OT geriatric days…..
Moving onto a randomosity: 
My favorite conversation of the day. 
Scene: Phone call, my school's director of special ed has just called me back. 
Me: Hi! Have you missed me?!! 
Her: Do you really want me to answer that? 
Me: Only if you lie…

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So today, I went into a school and saw a group of my little kiddos from last year, who always referenced me as “Miss Awesomeness”. We had a new kiddo to the group who has been hearing about me from the other little boys for the last few weeks who have been asking about me (I start two weeks into the school year because of scheduling, getting kids routines established, etc). So he finally meets me today – the kids come in to their learning center as always and are shocked to finally see me standing there, and they surrounded me with hugs and cries of Miss Awesomeness. The new little boy looked at me with wide eyes and practically whispered, “Are you Miss Awesomeness?”. It was so adorable. I knowww that had I just been “Miss Karen” it wouldn't have been nearly as exciting. I LOVE these little ones! The main kids I use Miss Awesomeness with are the ones who have trouble remembering names. They need something outlandish to help them remember. One of my little spunky girls recently told me, “You can call me Miss Awesom
eness too”. I was happy to do so. 🙂

So for anyone new to this blog, I'm an elementary school OT and *some* – not all – of my kids call me that but it's meant to be silly and light-hearted, I in no way am arrogant enough to truly think that. I think I'm a good OT – most of the time – but I have my moments just like EVERYONE. We all have sessions that miserably fail, whether due to environment, the kid's mood, the therapist's mood, whatever. That's okay…We learn from our mistakes and move on. 
I have SOOOOO much to learn from more experienced therapists. I get so jealous of therapists with lots of experience, you have no idea. I wish I could copy all their neurons, make neuron pancakes, eat them, and be instantly as smart as them. However sometimes inexperienced therapists have the benefit of flexibility in their thought process. Like when I used to do fencing. Sometimes fencing a brand new fencer, even as an experienced fencer, was hard, because the inexperienced fencer was so unpredictable and bizarre in their actions. I recently read a story about a guy who came into his statistics class late in college, wrote down the problems on the board, and solved them as homework. He hadn't been there for the first part of class where they were described as impossible, never before solved problems. Not knowing this was the reason he could approach it so freshly. 

I feel kind of hypomanic – in case you couldn't tell from this pressured writing, haha – just because I'm feeling really overwhelmed with work right now and it's only the third week. So today I stayed at work until EIGHT PM. Just me and the custodian, lol. I knew if I went home I wouldn't work at night. Tomorrow is Friday and I'm going to a show at 6pm in that area, so I plan to stay at work late. I really want to get caught up NOW so that my basic “Start of my 2nd year of school OT” goals could be met. 

Yesterday as part of my new goals for the year, I was asking a child what he thought I did for a job. He thought earnestly for a minute and then brightened, “Make people have fun?”. Yes. That's exactly it. 🙂 LOL. 
The description I used for him is that I wanted to help his eyeballs and fingers work a little easier and quicker so school could be more fun. 

Seriously. ALL OF YOU THERAPISTS. ASK YOUR KIDS IF THEY KNOW YOUR NAME. AND ASK THEM IF THEY KNOW WHAT YOU DO OR WHY THEY ARE SEEING YOU. Their answers will probably shock you. Do not assume. 

So……Every day I have so many moments that pass by that I want to share on the blog. I love my job, but at the same time I wish I could also be a full-time blogger, full time general education and toy store consultant, full-time product inventor, full-time writer, etc etc. A wise person recently commented on FB that a career is not a sprint but an Ironman triathlon…Guess I have a ways to go on some of my ideas. 

Tonight, this incredibly long post is mostly for personal therapeutic value. It helps me to rid my brain of the thoughts swirling around, and to have mementos/memories that I can look back on some day since my memory is horrific, and to remind myself of the good accomplishments for the many, many days I feel lost or fearful as an OT. I can't write SO much about those moments on this blog since uh, I'd like to stay in the good graces of my bosses and schools, but it's nothing crazy, just typical professional angst, lol. I can write more about PAST moments. I do still have a lot of intentions of writing about non-school based topics. Especially considering my love for schools only started when I got this job about 17 months ago. 

Random note – love the new Wet Dry Try Handwriting App – but don't recommend it quite yet as they are working on reducing sensitivity – right now even I can't always trace a letter correctly which is ridiculous. But the new update should be out soon with reduced sensitivity and I'm pretty sure I will highly recommend it at that time. 🙂 
Random other note – I have tons of pictures I need to post including some rather, um, creative uses of things like the Theraband hand strengthener..
Random other note – make sure to find my magic weighted blanket give-away a few posts down, chances of winning are super incredibly high.
Random other note – I rarely edit these or reread them, I just let my brain vomit, so …..Sorry. 
Sep 07, 2012 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none

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