The Pied Piper to Minimize special education stigma – OT thoughts

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I use this to reflect so if it’s redundant, well, I’m reflecting again!!! 

My philosophy with my OT kids in the elementary school is to play a “Pied Piper” where all kids, special education or not, want to be with me – I always have sparkles in my hair, often sparkle eyeliner, cool laptop cases or my bins have stickers…my keychain has silly key caps… I want to appeal to all the kids. When I show up to get a kid in the classroom, they are (almost always) happy to see me/come with me, and the other kids want to come too. I want the other kids to feel like my OT kid is lucky for getting to come with me, rather than it being something weird. Anyway…
Today I was at the beach, looking for cool rocks. I left my stuff with this family with young kids so that I didn’t have to keep such a close eye on it (with their permission).  I was right in front of the family, just at the waterline, and I’m super paranoid about leaving things unattended. Anyway, their little girl ended up following me and showing me her cool rocks and talking to me. I didn’t initiate it. Super cute. Then when I came back to collect my stuff, a little boy (maybe one years old?), a little boy toddled up to me quite randomly and started showing me his beach toys. I went along with it but was a little perplexed as to why he approached me (there were a bunch of people around, including kids). The mom that had been watching my stuff commented “You’re a pied piper.” I grinned. I like to think kids can sense goodness and love. 
So I guess I’m tooting my own horn, but that’s not really what this post was intended to be. It’s about presenting your best self and to think about how you approach your job as an OT – are you cognizant of the special ed stigma and take steps to protect your OT kids? Don’t be afraid to show off a playful side. Obviously within the dress code and in a way that isn’t too horribly unprofessional, but remember part of your job, ideally, is appealing to the kids! Therapeutic sense of self comes from inside you, but you can present yourself in a way that makes the kids know how much you care – whether that’s playful objects or just lots of smiles and kindness. 
Well. I’m just rambling. I want to write about so many things – nonnegotiable boundaries, meditation drumming, more about Zentangles, creativity/imagination, mental flexibility, mental health groups, slack-lining and balance as it relates to ADHD/impulse control/attention difficulties…..other things too. So many.
By the way, now that Google Reader is gone, I’ve lost my familarity. I sent them over to Feedly, but I haven’t gotten the hang of it, nor is it as convenient the way it was in Gmail…so I know I have a lot of OT blogs to catch up on!
Hope you all are having a good summer. Mine has gotten super awesome recently. 🙂
Jul 14, 2013 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 2