Showing posts from May, 2015

Problems about the perception of 'advocacy' for parents in special education contexts

I went to an IEP meeting with a parent the other day and was greeted with hesitance by the occupational therapist on the educational team. "Why are you here?" asked the therapist.  "Are you here because you are actually treating the child or are you here as an advocate?" Neither characterization seemed correct.  I paused and thought for a few seconds as I was not sure why it mattered.  I also was not sure if I was free to divulge the information.  I ran for the safest middle ground I could find and responded, "I know the child and I am helping the family."  Both were true. I know that the word "advocate" is often perceived negatively by school based practitioners.  I have been attending IEP meetings as an 'outside' therapist for over 20 years and I tend to avoid the term 'advocate' because it engenders a lot of negativity.  I see a lot of reactivity in educational teams when an 'advocate' is involved. Bruce and Ch

A critical juncture for the New York State Occupational Therapy Association

The New York State Occupational Therapy Association is planning to make significant changes to its bylaws and governance in the very near future.  Since so little information has been available on these changes I took the initiative to gather data so that occupational therapists in NY would have more information to assess these proposals. I will begin my analysis with an apology, because it is my longstanding belief that to be an appropriate critic one needs to be a member of the group that is being held to scrutiny.  For purposes of transparency I will divulge that I ceased my NYSOTA membership approximately ten years ago in protest of inappropriate accounting practices.  However, I remained in close contact with many therapists around the State who continued their participation with the membership association.  Many of these members are currently upset about the proposed changes to governance.  Some don't want to make their protest public and have given me copious information t

Social justice in occupational therapy: Where to from here?

After a multi-year debate there was some small capitulation regarding the social justice language in the AOTA Code of Ethics.  The previous section labeled 'Principle 4: Social Justice' was removed and replaced with a more generic section on 'Justice' that focuses on procedural aspects of the Justice construct.  A passing reference to a social justice construct was included in the Preamble. It is difficult to know if it is even fair to say 'capitulation' because we have not had precise commentary from the Ethics Commission on those changes.  What we have are the comments of the EC Chair Dr. Lea Brandt who stated It is correct that in the section on Core Values there is still terminology referring to social injustice.   This reflects the membership feedback which called for inclusion of the concept of social justice while tempering that perspective with a group of members who requested to have the term removed.  The term “Social Justice” was removed from the