Happy National CP Awareness Day 2020!!
Due to this placement I have been more focused on delivering occupational therapy content rather than cerebral palsy content. In this blog I aim to share a bit of both, alongside some photos of my younger self, to illustrate my journey.
As many of you know, I have received occupational therapy input from birth up to the age of 18. I always valued every profession but my OT input always stuck out the most, not in the sense that it was more significant, but I was always interested in what my OT’s did as they help me out in a lot of ways. Besides the equipment I was given that I’ve already covered in a previous blog, my therapy sessions had a big impact on me so much so that my family and I started exploring activities myself out of my therapy sessions to improve my fine motor skills.
So, to start this off let’s go through some examples of how occupational therapy ‘leaked’ out into all areas of my life outside the sessions.
My parents always made sure that I stayed active and I took part in many after school clubs as a child which to me was ‘just for fun’ but for my parents, it was seeking out opportunities to improve both my fine and gross motor skills as well as doing my daily physio programme at home. But one activity that I took part in improved my fine motor skills massively and is one of the reasons why I wanted to study occupational therapy is the piano.
Once I started playing the piano my fine motor skills improved massively in terms of dexterity. This is why the NSTP logo is a green piano because the piano made me realised how significant OT is. I started off with basic tunes as it was very hard to play using both hands, I am right-handed and whenever I’m using my right hand my left hand tends to wander off. I had a lot of work coming my way, but I was up for the challenge. It challenges parts of my brain that need to be challenged as by playing the piano I must work against my brain. I admit I’m not the best pianist in the world, but this doesn’t matter all the matters is that I enjoy it!
Playing is essential to any child as we all know and since studying OT and learning more about activity analysis as well as doing a paediatric placement, I have learnt just how vital play is. As a child, my house was full of toys, but little did, I know that my parents use to buy toys purposely to improve my fine and gross motor skills… I thought it was just a coincidence when I played with a toy during therapy and then I’d magically get a new toy a few days later! I played many games just like any other child but obviously, there’s a reason why my parents bought building blocks and challenged me to build the tallest tower or why it was a family tradition to build an Easter egg wall every Easter. We used to always try out anything new that we came across chunky pen, pencils you name it! I had some cool crayons that I put on the end of my finger- I still couldn’t stay within the lines though!
My family often used to describe my garden as an adventure play area where we were kids- it had everything slide, swing and seesaw set, trampoline- you name it we had it!
As previously mentioned, I’ve had a good experience of being a service user and feel like my OT input has been quite significant and as you have gathered from the examples it has shaped mine and my family’s life. I’ve always enjoyed going to therapy I don’t know why, many kids would hate it, but I knew that I gained so much from it and I really appreciate every single person that’s played a role in my care. I think I wasn’t too fazed by being a service user because the older I got the more I understood what my needs were and my parents and I used to always have a big discussion before an annual review or consultant appointment to ensure that we made to most of the time we had with professionals I am thankful that my parents always included me in making these decisions.
My only experience as a service user that wasn’t the best was that I felt like the ending of my OT process was quite abrupt. For my final OT input from child services, I had an OT that I never met which didn’t feel right. However, using my clinical reasoning I can see why a band 5 was sent as they would have just collated information from my files and ask my previous OT’s.
But is this still okay? Is this client-centred?
By developing my #VirtualOTPlacement I can create a bridge using the online community with my knowledge as a service user and a student as I can see both sides.
Overall, I think highly of my OT input as if not I probably wouldn’t be here today. Now that I understand OT more with being a student I appreciate what the occupational therapy profession has done for me even more than I did before. I’ve had a good experience of being a service user and it has made me realise that you can turn the negatives into positives and make the challenges fun. I remember salivating on multiple occasions in my therapy sessions as a child because I was that engrossed in the activity then I’d end up laughing- to be honest it was ugly! Those who know me well know how bad I get when I laugh!
So here I am on my professional journey to become an occupational therapist, as part of my journey I am researching, developing and participating in a virtual placement. As such I am required to deliver an intervention, this week I was leading and facilitating #OTalk an online forum for occupational therapists exploring a range of topics. This week the discussion centred around the ‘Experiences of the Journey From a Service User to a Professional’. From my #OTalk I am doing a series of blogs to help me unpick each question and make sense of it. The first blog of the series will be published on Friday at 3 pm where I will be exploring the value of occupational therapy and if being a service user or having a family member who received OT input changed people’s views on the delivery of occupational therapy and its core values.
So, for National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day my message, to all those who are struggling with having to do therapy and coming to terms with your disability is that it will all be worthwhile in the end… Who knows you may grow to love it and if you’re like me decide that you want to do it for the rest of your life!
Thank you for reading,