Showing posts from March, 2007

another apparent failure

I wrote this four years ago, and since I am recording stories with different endings I thought this would be another scenario that deserves to be dusted off and posted here.


Camille called me tonight, somewhat frantic, with an obvious need to tell me some news about her daughter.

Camille is an overprotective mom and grandmother who has been disapproving of her daughter's choices. However, as she is ultimately interested in her daughter's well being (and the associated well-being of her grandchild) she mostly keeps her mouth shut for fear of alienating her daughter.

About two months ago Camille had to be hospitalized for gall bladder surgery, and that left all the caregiving responsibilities of the new grandchild to Karen, her daughter, as it should be. Because it had been my job to go to their home and help educate the family on caregiving for this disabled child, I was trying to split my time between Camille and Karen. As I said though, since the surgery I have been spendin…

Not every story has a successful ending

On most days people appreciate the things I do, which is a positive reinforcement for me to continue with those tasks that keep my private practice running. However, the reality is that sometimes people don't appreciate or understand what you are doing, even if you take the time to explain. Today seems to be the right day to talk about an experience I had when someone was not able to appreciate my efforts.

Collin’s mom is single or divorced – I am not sure which. She has two children by two different fellows, neither of whom believes that their presence is important in the lives of the children. The mom does not work outside of the home; her primary role is as a parent.

Their apartment is in a blue-collar town outside of a large metropolitan area. The town is famous for its chemical dumps and environmental toxins. I do not know if it means anything, but I cannot listen to AM radio in their neighborhood – there is just too much RF interference from the high-tension electricity lines.…

Best treatment options for autism

In a recent comment a reader asked my opinion about the best treatment options for autism. This is inherently a loaded topic because there are so many people who have aligned themselves with particular treatment approaches. Also, there are some people who have experienced significant improvement with a single approach.

I form my opinion on this question based on twenty years of clinical experience working with children and families. I don't believe that there is a single approach that works for everyone. Also, just because something works for someone at some point in time has not been an indicator that it will work for everyone else at countless other moments in time.

From an evidence-based perspective it seems that behavioral approaches have the best research to support their efficacy. However, behavioral approaches are not unitary and the concept of 'efficacy' needs to be clearly defined. Certainly, there is no overwhelming evidence that any behavioral approaches will cure…

The perils of mediocrity and the pursuit of a Centennial Vision

By definition, mediocrity implies ordinary or unremarkable quality. For occupational therapy to achieve the centennial vision that is proposed by AOTA I believe that the profession needs to move far beyond mediocrity.

This week I experienced mediocrity in occupational therapy and in educational systems - it was concerning, so I wanted to share it here.

A parent asked me to attend a meeting at school in preparation for a CSE meeting. The parent was informed that occupational therapy services would be discontinued for her daughter. I won't even argue the child's needs here - but rather will point out the process by which this determination was made.

The child has an IEP but there are no statements on the IEP that indicate her present levels of performance as they relate to her occupational therapy needs or her academic functioning. There are also no goals on the IEP that relate to any needs that might be typically associated with occupational therapy as a related service. Still, th…

Occupational therapy and cones

If a cone fell on the floor, what is the chance that it would land ‘standing up' on its base??

I wonder this because a family member had a total hip replacement and is receiving occupational therapy in a short term rehabilitation facility. In OT they are teaching her how to pick up objects that have fallen on the floor. That seems like a reasonable point of intervention to me: it is important that people avoid placing undue stress on a new hip joint and I am sure that the OT does not want her to bend excessively.

Why, though, does my family member have to pick up cones?

I know a little about cones, more from my experience with geometry than from my experience as an occupational therapist. A cone is a three dimensional geometric shape. It is the locus of all line segments between a base and a point outside the plane. I know that the base of a cone can be any shape as long as it connects to an apex at any point outside the plane of the base. As far as I know there is nothing in her hom…

Cultural awareness and occupational therapy

Here is an excellent email question I got from a gentleman in India who is considering a career change and would like to practice OT in an English-speaking country.

My question is: Even if I got good command over English, would indigenous people prefer a foreign therapist and would I be able enough to know their problems?

I had this exact same question when I was completing my fieldwork in a mental health setting in an inner-city environment. I grew up in a suburban mostly middle-class world and when I came into my new worksite I looked around and could not recognize the culture around me.

I understood that poverty existed in the world, but I had not seen people trying to get admitted into the psychiatric unit until the monthly governmental check came.

I understood that some people were on drugs, and I had even seen some of my friends try drugs, but I never saw anyone needing to be strapped down to a gurney after a bad PCP trip because they thought that they could see the devil if they lo…