To Disclose or Not to Disclose?

Welcome to the second blog in my #OTalk series and the last blog of my placement for a few weeks whilst I’m on Easter break. I was debating just carrying on, but I have an assignment to get done and a few to start so I don’t want to overdo it!

I’ve talked about disclosure multiple times on my blog as it’s something that I often get confused about. As on one hand, it’s good to disclose as it brings in a bit of normality and can enhance the therapeutic relationship. But, on the other hand, it’s not all about me as the occupational therapist it’s all about the service user and needs to remain this way to maintain a client-centred approach. Therefore, finding the right balance can be hard.

At times with my disability being so visible, I almost have to disclose, for example, I have to make people aware of my speech impairment. I just struggle to know how much I can disclose. What’s appropriate? What’s not appropriate? Where do I draw the line?

But I don’t think I’m alone…

‘Not yet qualified, but I’m anxious about this… I did disclose in my last non-clinical role with patients I worked with and it helped with rapport, but my experiences now more historic, so less relevant and worried if it’s professional or not? #OTalk’ – Anya de Longh, @anyadei 

I agree with this, over time it may not be as relevant as occupational therapy is always changing due to evidence-based practice. From previous experience, I think it depends on what setting you are based in. For example, on my paediatric placement it was a lot more relevant for me to share my experiences than on my placement in assistive technology. But then in assistive technology, I was working with all ages and a range of different disabilities so, therefore, I found that I got asked just as many questions. It depends on the questions as well sometimes if I get a direct question about my experience of occupational therapy, I don’t want to be biased so, therefore I just give a more general answer than going into detail. This is because…

1. It’s not about me.

2. I also need to consider my ethical reasoning to make sure the situation doesn’t escalate.

3. Is it professional?

This takes us back to my original question… is it professional to disclose?

‘As a student, I feel I have been taught to never discuss/disclose any of my own experiences. However, sometimes if it feels natural and appropriate to do, I have…if I feel it can offer support to service users. I think it *can* help establish rapport and show empathy #OTalk’ -Annie Severn, @AnnieSevern_OT

As a student, I also feel that disclosure is frowned upon, and I remember having a big discussion in the first year about if you should show a service user your Kawa River journey or not (a model to reflect your life). We also came up with the same solution which is if it’s appropriate why not? It may even make someone feel a lot better and enhance the therapeutic relationship. Of course, you still must remain professional and non-judgemental. But I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that disclosure isn’t something to be ‘frowned upon’.

The question is… where and when is disclosure appropriate?

‘I agree, I think we use our clinical judgement with whom we share any experience as. Sometimes, even saying “I’ve had a similar experience, I found it tough but this worked for me/ I got through it” can be enough, without going into too much detail! #OTalk’– Kayleigh Wain, @kayleighwainOT

This yet again brings us back to clinical reasoning and judging the situation.

Storytime- on my paediatric placement I visited a child who had just been given a diagnosis of CP and the child’s parents had no clue what CP was. I could have quite easily said ‘’I have CP.’’ But this wouldn’t have been fair as cerebral palsy is an umbrella term and individual needs are different. But, sometimes in other situations, people have directly asked me about my experiences and I’ve just gone into it and around it, in the vaguest way possible again making sure I don’t form any biases.

So, I agree with what has been said here. On my first placement for the first few weeks I didn’t really mention my disability as I didn’t want to make it about me but then in supervision my educator said “Your disability is your weapon, you need to use it”. Which made me think that disclosing to some extent is not actually a bad thing.

#OTalk consider therapeutic use of self. Yes, whilst not making it all about me! Specifically when patients lead with justification for decisions they’ve made services they need. I can understand where that come from and the impact of occupational deprivation on their lives.’- Debbie Knowles, @debbieduckie

I’ve previously mentioned that the therapeutic relationship is a big element when it comes to disclosure as it helps to build a rapport with the service user. Which is a common theme that keeps coming up during this blog. Patients are going to want guidance and this first-hand experience can help as we’ve discovered and having that understanding helps a patient to feel relieved. No-one wants to feel alone as discussed in my blog a few weeks ago about the online community so, therefore, providing this extra bit of support can help someone during a difficult time.

I now feel a lot more confident about disclosure as I know it is okay to disclose. Yes, it’s not appropriate to tell someone your life story, but to give them a little help using first-hand experience is okay too. When I wrote my personal statement, I wrote ‘I’d like to be an occupational therapist because I can offer both professional and personal experience’ and I can. I’m not saying I’ll tell every service-user that I come across but, my weapon is there if I need to use it in an unbiased way.

Have a good Easter and stay safe!

Thank you for reading,


An Insider’s View of Occupational Therapy

On Tuesday night I hosted an #OTalk on Twitter. I was very nervous about making a mistake or a #CPjerk as I like to call them as sometimes due to my involuntary movements, I do make a typo or two. But it went well, I struggled to keep up, but I think I managed to like and retweet most responses.

Thank you to all those that took part as this was part of my #VirtualOTPlacement. It will also help with other placements and prepare me for the world of work. I now feel less alone in my transition from a service user to a health care professional.

One of my questions for the OTalk was about the value of occupational therapy and if being a service user or having a family member who received OT input changes people’s views on the delivery of occupational therapy and its core values. I felt like this was a crucial question to explore because as discussed in my last blog post I shared experiences of OT that wasn’t 10 out of 10. The purpose of this discussion wasn’t to make a noise and call people out it was just to share experiences to improve the profession.

How does inside experience effect views on the delivery of occupational therapy and it’s values?

I also threw this question in to explore the positives and celebrate the beauty of the profession.

How pivotal OT was in my recovery. Looking beyond just the surface, taking a holistic perspective & being consistent. As a child experiencing OT, I always remember how kind they were, but how the allowed me to feel safe when doing graded work. #OTalk.’– Kayleigh Wain, @kayleighwainOT

From studying OT, I have become increasingly more thankful to my own occupational therapists as now I understand the values and demands of the profession. Just like Kayleigh mentioned it enables you to look beyond the surface- when I was younger, I got why my OT used to make me play with beads to improve my fine motor skills. But now, I can use activity analysis to make sense of my therapy as the tasks I carried out during therapy worked on so much more than my fine motor skills. As an ex-service user, I feel like I can now evaluate my OT input and recognise the core values. How I view the core values of OT will be different to someone who hasn’t received occupational therapy input they’ll never know how much of an impact these values make.

From my point of view, these values struck out so much so that they are the reason that I’m in the profession today.

‘It has made me recognise how much the environment can disabled me much more so that my disability (deaf) itself and I see this all the time with my clients in practice and how by making small changes can have a big impact. #OTalk – Susan Griffiths, @SusanGriffiths5

I agree with this and I think having more of an understanding of occupational therapy and its core values can be both good and bad in situations such as this. The reason being is for example, in October for World CP Day I went on the bus in my electric wheelchair for the first time. I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about doing the challenge because I was overthinking it and applying activity analysis to it. So, although having this knowledge helps in some situations in other situations it can cause you to second guess the situation.

But, on the other hand, having the first-hand experience enhances procedural reasoning as functional problems are easier to identify as you can relate and therefore you can make a difference as just like Susan said small changes can have a big impact!

‘Has a huge influence, I have a level of insight and understanding, that others without a disability may not have, i.e. it’s impact on daily occupations, and how to combat these. #otalk I’ve also had poor experiences, including poor #OT, so I’m aware how this feels.’ -Rachel Booth, @OT_rach

I’ve always said that when I’m a qualified occupational therapist I will have both a professional and personal understanding it’s about being able to empathise rather than just sympathise by having insight and understanding. It is also important to make people aware of the bad experiences as when you’re an OT yourself it easier to spot the good and the not so good just like any profession.

I wanted to find out if people feel like the core values have been present when receiving OT.

If these core values haven’t been noticed can they be classed as ‘core values’?

The fact that Rachel is aware of this will make her work so much better and so much more unique. We’re not saying that profession in perfect but, by picking up on these situations it will only improve the quality of care.

‘I saw my grandpa receive OT after having a stroke resulting hemiplegia. Watching the OT help with all his goals of getting back to bowls and driving really made me appreciate person centred practice.’– Jasmin Laffy, @JasminLaffy

When I went for my driving assessment, the lady who assessed me was an occupational therapist and I wouldn’t have known this if she had not asked me what I wanted to do at university. This made me appreciate the profession so much more as I realised how under-valued the profession was. Like Jasmin said seeing practice first-hand makes you appreciate the client-centred practice. When I was receiving OT it was harder to see the values as I was younger meaning I can’t remember all the details so, when I was at the driving assessment although I was yet to start my studies I can look back now and see the core values of the professions and I was certainly treated holistically.

Overall, I think it’s fair to say that people still think highly of the occupational therapy values after seeing it from a different angle. But it’s also great that we can pick up on the times were the core concepts of occupational therapy weren’t shown, to improve the service and quality of care.

Thank you for reading,


National CP Awareness Day 2020: My Experiences as a Service User

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.

It’s not like me to be playing Ed Sheeran!

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!

I want to bring this family tradition back but, unfortunately it wouldn’t be as tall!

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!

I was always Cinderella and Matilda was always sleeping beauty!

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,


How We Can Stay Connected With Others in Unprecedented Times

The main aim of my #VirtualOTPlacement is educating people about the importance of online communities and over the upcoming months, online communities may be the only way anyone can stay connected and not just disabled people due to COVID-19. I must admit on a personal level I’m very relieved that I’m doing this placement especially now that cerebral palsy is one of the named conditions to have an increased risk to CONVID-19 according to Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable adults.

Online communities are vital for many disabled individuals as it allows us to connect. I for one wouldn’t be writing this blog today without the support of the online disabled community. This community has helped me to realise that my disability is a strength and not a weakness. I have connected with many disabled individuals online in which some I have been lucky enough to meet. Being able to connect with someone who understands my disability is great as enables me to share things that my able-bodied friends can’t relate to and I know that I am not the only disabled individual that has gained a lot for the online community in recent years.

The online community means support and shared experiences.’– Francesca Hughes, @franariella

Variety, measured opinions and support’- Sue Hilsdon, @therapy2optimum

The online community also enables parents to stay in contact and share experiences of raising their child with a disability. ”There’s no handbook on parenting” so therefore, there’s no handbook on how to raise a disabled child meaning parents aren’t aware of the hurdles that come up. Online communities enable parents to connect and to feel like they’re not alone it can be very lonely when no one around you is ‬experiencing similar situations. But online communities allow experiences to be shared making people feel less isolated not only this they can shared tips too I often learn many tips from the disability blogs that I read.

‘The online community has been the greatest support for us since discovering my son Tommy would be born with Down’s syndrome. We have made so many online friends who are always there to lift us up when needed and share all the joyous moments with.’ – Amanda Gaughan, @my_upside_down_rainbow

Many of us up and down the country are experiencing self-isolation. It’s hard having to self-isolate when you’re used to being a ‘busy bee’ but for many of us, this is only temporary. For some disabled individuals’ self-isolation doesn’t change daily life that much as leaving the house is already harder for them. A lot of people already use the online to keep connected with family and friends as ‘popping out’ is not just straight forward. It’ll be a lot harder when it comes to activities of daily living though, how can disabled individuals self-isolate? I know I couldn’t I’m far too dependent on my parents and when I’m ill this is when I need help the most.

‘It allows my son with quadriplegic spastic CP and epilepsy to stay in contact with me via FaceTime.’ – Nicola Oddy, @alilou250969

For OT’s working in the third-sector or somewhere, where there is no other OT’s it can be hard as they don’t have an OT colleague to bounce ideas off. But being online and connecting with others can bridge this gap by providing reassurance and support when not even all their work colleagues understand the ins and outs of occupational therapy. As some OT’s do not have the title occupational therapists in their work environment which means the not everyone, they come in contact with at work will know that they’re a registered OT.

‘Peer support when I was the only OT working at my company.’ – Ellie Rosslyn, @EllieOTforKids

Being online allows us to connect with others internationally. This is important as it allows us to gain new insights and explore what is happening within occupational therapy worldwide. For some of us, it’s hard to get over to international conferences due to money, support and medical needs etc. But by sharing information and connecting with other professionals online we can learn from each other and share knowledge. Alright, you won’t get the same experience as you would at a conference but it’s better than nothing and this year, creating webinars and hosting live chats may be our only option during the pandemic. I don’t know about you, but I like to keep myself busy if we can still share content and keep our brain working by connecting online than this will increase our wellbeing.

‘Connecting internationally and discussing the delivery and core skills of occupational therapy.’ – Margaret Spencer, @margaretOT360

‘Support. In each sense of the word’– Laura Elle, @Laura_Does

As mentioned, we can learn a lot from online communities through pages such as #OTalk I join #OTalk every Tuesday at 8 pm and I learn so much every week! A lot is happening through #OTalk and on Twitter since the COVID-19 outbreak as OT’s are taking to Twitter to share meaningful occupations that people can carry out during self-isolation by using the hashtag #occupationinisolation. As an occupational therapy student, I think it’s vital at this time that I take to social media to remind others of the simple and meaningful occupations they can achieve without leaving the house I am very much enjoying scrolling through my Twitter feed to see how the OT community is coming together. But there needs to be more. A lot of people are scared of being active online and rightly so there are people out there that target, bully and trolls others but, if you use the online community in a safe way and connect with the right users it can be a great place. Logging onto Twitter on a Tuesday night and connecting with other OT’s and OT students from around the world improves not only my knowledge but my wellbeing.

‘The online community is a place I can share information but also bounce ideas off people and see what others have done before me. In this time of social distancing it is also a support system, a place people can come together to pick each other up when times are tough.’ -Kristina Renee Marchiori, @MarchioriRenee

‘It means a chance to share, educate and learn. I feel both my personal and professional development is hugely impacted by online communities and the use of social media. I feel as though I reap the benefits and fortunately do not experience many negative effects.’- Annie Severn, @AnnieSevern_OT

My OTalk about my Experiences of the Journey From a Service User to a Professional has been brought forward to next Tuesday at 8 pm. Feel free to join- even if you loiter!

I’m fortunate as this placement has come at the right time for me as many of my placement plans can still go ahead, but at times likes this it’s family that is important. Which is why my featured imaged for this blog is me with the 3 people I love the most in this world. I’m lucky that my family and I can all be together during the pandemic so, from my family to yours stay safe.

Links to online communities where we can connect during this time:

Thank you for reading,


How Will I Define ‘Independent’ as an Occupational Therapist?

I’ve recently just turned 20 and have just written a blog- What I Would Tell My 10-year-old Self which explains a bit about what my disability has taught me over the past 10 years. Since being 20 I’ve reflected a lot, and a big topic that always comes up is my independence.

As I’m getting older, I’m becoming more aware of the effects of my disability and therefore I have more of an understanding of what is classed as ‘normal’ for a person of my age and this makes me question how independent I can be when I qualify as an occupational therapist…

Since starting my #VirtualOTPlacement I’m feeling a lot more confident than I have done on my previous placement as I’ve had no other choice but to be independent as this how the role-emerging placements works. I’ve also had amazing feedback from many OT’s on Twitter which has helped me to believe in myself.

However, when I talk about confidence, I don’t mean the confidence to speak up as I feel like I’m quite vocal- hence why I’m a blogger. I mean to have confidence in my professional capabilities. It’s only week 3 I still have a lot of events coming up during this placement that will help me to build up my confidence in which I will take with me to my next placement. But I can’t help but thinking that when I go on my next traditional placement this confidence will decreased as I know I won’t be able to be as independent. I mean it’s a given this is the most independent placement for anyone because of the nature of the role-emerging placement. I don’t have face-to-face contact with my supervisor every day and I have more control over what I’m doing. But I’m talking about my physical capabilities as my next placement is going to be a lot physically demanding and cause more fatigue so, therefore, I will need help evidencing my independence.

I have a placement learning agreement to identify the reasonable adjustments the are required under the Equality Act (2010). The agreement covers everything that I find challenging on placement and now I’ve passed two traditional placements I have a better idea of what my needs on placement are.

I remember when I went to my first placement for a visit, when they asked me what my needs were I gave them a very basic answer, because the truth was I hadn’t been on placement before I didn’t know what I was and what I wasn’t going to struggle with.

Now we have a better idea of what the challenges are, and towards the end of my last placement my educator could accommodate my needs a lot better as we figured out that I needed a bit longer to write notes and that if I was just doing office work and felt fatigue then there would be nothing stopping me from doing this at home.

My last placement also involved a lot of equipment which I found challenging, so, it was said that I should talk someone through how to set up the equipment to demonstrate my understanding. But is this it? Will me explaining how something is done to someone so they can do it for me be the most independent I’ll feel when I qualify?

I’ve accepted the fact that I’ll never be as independent as other occupational therapists, in practice and will always need help as my physical needs aren’t going to change. But I’d like to think that there’s a way around some of the obstacles that I will face.

I really enjoyed my paediatric placement, and I don’t want to say that, that’s the area for me as I’m still to experience a mental health placement but this is the area that I’ve enjoyed working in the most so far. This placement wasn’t as physically demanding as my last placement in assistive technology, but it was still challenging at times… I don’t think I’ll be rushing back to hydrotherapy anytime soon. So, therefore, if I was to work in paediatrics I would need help with carrying and setting up equipment which you’d think is no big deal, but it does impact my confidence as it makes me feel that I’m not making as much of an impact.

When I’m working this view may change as I’ll have my own caseload and I’ll be a lot more involved in the service which will naturally increase my self-belief. But it still leaves me wondering what my independence will be…

Whatever my ‘independence’ is I’ll be okay with it I mean this time 3 years ago I didn’t think I’d be able to drive so who knows what the future holds, I’ve just got to continue to be optimistic. But I also need to be realistic with myself, I’m never going to be the greatest at manual handling. This is completely fine I may not even go into a physically demanding job. I guess, my point is that I don’t have to be totally independent to be satisfied with my independence. But I’m happy with this and I know that one day I will be that occupational therapist that I want to be as I am very determined to reach for my potential in my career- in whichever area of occupational therapy I end up in. However, it can be hard to know what this will look like and how long it’ll take me to get there as who knows what physical demands and unexpected battles, I may face along the way…

Thank you for reading,


The Online Borders Between Being a Professional and a Disabled Activist

This week on my virtual occupational therapy placement I have been doing the normal placement bits and pieces including a bit of policy reading about RCOTs (Royal College of Occupational Therapists) social media guidelines, Introduction to social media, (2019). I must admit I’d been putting policy reading off as this is normally seen as the essential but boring part of placement, however to my surprise it wasn’t boring as it made me question whether I can use social media as a professional and a disabled activist at the same time.

Due to being a disabled activist, I’m on a lot of social media platform Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I mean I do post more personal things on Instagram and on my private Facebook profile but apart from this most of the things I do and post about are published for the world to see and I wouldn’t have it any other way as I very much enjoy being a disabled activist. I see my disability as a tool, and I want to use that tool to the best of my abilities but this does make me questions my role about and if I can be a disabled activist and a professional in the online world. A common question about professional online profiles is… Should professional and personal profiles be kept separate? I keep my professional and personal profiles separate on most platforms that I’m on apart from Twitter. This is because on my Twitter profile if I’m not posing anything OT related then its disability-related so therefore, I don’t feel the need to separate them especially with my target audience for my blog being disabled individual and healthcare professionals.

However, after reading the policies I started to question if this was the right thing to do… I noted that the guidelines mentioned that you can’t be directly negative on social media. However, my role as a disabled activist is to call someone out if I feel that they’ve been ablest.

For example, a few weeks ago, I tweeted this:

As it happens on this occasion, I didn’t name the bar I was in because I couldn’t find a Twitter account for them but if I could, I would have tagged them to call them out. But as an online professional you shouldn’t be directly negative according to the guidelines. Which goes against some of the content I post as a disabled activist. So, where do I stand? Can I even post content like this anymore? Do I need separate accounts?

In all honesty, I don’t really know what my best option is and even from discussing this in supervision, it’s still something that I need to go away and think about. I know it’s not all about views, but I’ve put a lot into building up my online profile and I don’t really want to change it. I can re-evaluate it, yes but until I’ve had a long think about this, I don’t know what I need to change and if changing it will be worthwhile.

Another point that made me question myself is giving advice to service users. As many of you know on my blog, I don’t just publish OT related content I also write many blogs about cerebral palsy awareness and will continue to do so. This means that sometimes I get emails from parents or people with CP asking for advice which I guess is okay if it’s anything CP related as I have many connections that I can direct them towards. But what if is something OT related? I can’t give out advice to service users as that’s deemed as unprofessional. Therefore, this makes me question putting my contact details on my blog. But this is not a personal email and I want people to be able to contact me, so I can connect with other OT’s and bloggers. So yet again where do I stand? I could put something on the blog about not being able to give out occupational therapy advice, maybe? I guess when I started this blog, I never thought my profile would be that big that I needed to do this and maybe I need to re-evaluate the structure of my site.

The final contradiction I picked up on when reading the policies was about having content published online and how people may choose to publish something anonymously in which this is far from what I do. I regularly have my work published on my own website and many other platforms in which I sign my name at the end and provide a link to my Twitter handle. Which again makes me question if I need to have a clear differentiation between my occupational therapy work and my disabled activism work. During supervision, my educator said, ‘you’re an occupational therapist and that’s your professional identity’ and of course I wouldn’t want to do anything the jeopardise my career. But I’ve never going to stop standing up for disability rights and what I believe because it is harder getting your voice heard when you’ve got a disability and now, I’ve got this platform I’m not going to shy away…

So, does this mean that I’ll have to choose between being a professional and a disabled activist?

My educator brought me this book to supervision this week. I think it’s going to be a useful tool- the geek inside of me can’t wait to start highlighting and putting sticky notes on the key pages. I’m hoping that this book along with reflecting and using my clinical reasoning will help me to make sense of all the questions that have come up in this blog and will help me to decide my next steps. I’m not going to have any answers to these questions until I’ve completed this placement as it will take a bit of time and research to come to a concluded judgement. Maybe I’m overthinking it because I don’t want to be seen to be ‘doing the wrong thing’ or be seen to be doing something that I’m ‘only just getting away with’. But doesn’t someone have to challenge these views in order for them to be developed?

What do you think?

Thank you for reading and thank you for your amazing support with the placement,

and dare I do it… @GeorgiaVineOT

What Is a Virtual Occupational Therapy Placement?

Hello people! I’m blogging on here for the first time in 4 weeks and it feels great! It felt strange missing a blog I didn’t like it, but I needed some time away and, in this blog, you’re going to find out why I’ve had to take a short break.

If you follow me on Twitter, you will know that I started my role-emerging virtual placement this week in which I need to do a lot of explaining about…

First, for those less familiar with occupational therapy a role-emerging placement is when you go on placement in a non-traditional occupational therapy setting such as a homeless shelter to scope out an OT intervention, as OT’s rock and can basically do anything. However, for my role-emerging placement we decided to take this to a whole new level and combine it with my blog and my role in the online community so therefore I’m on placement right now as I write this blog. How great is that? As I’m writing this blog its day 3- I’ve barely got my foot through the doorway but already I’m having the best time!

So, what is a virtual occupational therapy placement?
The truth is, as I’ve already mentioned it’s day 3 so, I don’t really know what a virtual occupational therapy placement is myself- I’m writing this blog as much for my sake as I am yours. But I can give you a bit of background about the nature of this part-time placement and tell you a bit about what I have planned for the next 12 weeks.

Background information:
To start this story off let me introduce you to my supervisor the lovely and creative Margaret Spencer– I was lucky to have a halfway visit from Margaret during my paediatric placement last year. I was more than lucky as during this visit Margaret asked me what area of OT and I wanted to go in and this is when I mentioned combining occupational therapy and blogging, which is where the idea of the placement came from. The online disabled community is growing. So, why isn’t occupational therapy growing with it? This is why I started producing OT content on my blog and why I published Why I Study Occupational Therapy– this blog was to lay the foundations for this placement and ever since then Margaret and I have been chipping away at it so much so that I did 15 hours’ worth of placement before it even started.

What my placement is going to look like:
It took Margaret and I a while to decide how we wanted this placement to look as even though being online is a big part of it, it’s not the only purpose of the placement.

During my last placement, I was very open about how emotionally challenging I found it in my blog Transitioning from a Service User to a Healthcare Professional. So, therefore another major element to my placement is this transition and I will be discussing this in my OTalk on Twitter on the 21st of April in hope that I will find some top tips to enhance my confidence ready for my next traditional placement.

As well as my OTalk I have a whole bunch of things lined up including talks at Sheffield Hallam and Derby University, a podcast and I will also be working closely with CP Teens UK as CP awareness month falls in the middle of placement, talk about perfect timing!

I will also be attending the Naidex show in Birmingham and will be blogging about my thoughts before and after the show… Oh yeah, I haven’t mentioned why I took a break yet this is because, during my placement there will be a blog every week! I mean it is a virtual placement, after all, we even have our own hashtag #VirtualOTPlacement.

I will also be running an online intervention- running an intervention makes up a big part of the role-emerging placement. Although the intervention, is not on the top of my agenda yet, I’m already having a few ideas.

A big aim for my placement is changing people’s attitudes about disability so, therefore, I want my target audience for intervention to be parents or carers who have just been given a new diagnosis for their child.

To find out:

  • How this diagnosis was delivered.
  • How this affects their attitudes towards disability.

For example, a big question I want to ask is… Was the explanation of the diagnosis delivered to them in a suitable way and was the right terminology used?

That’s why I dropped another post in- Establishing Effective Terminology to Minimise Barriers. I was hesitant to include my intervention in my blog in case this idea falls through. But then I thought how will I ever get anyone to be involved in my intervention if I don’t get the word out there? So, that’s what I’m doing, so I apologise in advance as this blog is going to be shared a lot during these first few weeks!

Why does a virtual occupational therapy placement work for me?
A virtual placement works for me because it’s a lot more flexible I can work whenever I want I mean it’s nearly 10:00 at night as I’m writing this blog now- I know, this is not like me, but I am well and truly in the zone!

Due to it being flexible, I can tailor it towards my needs and work at my own pace- if I’ve had a bad night and didn’t sleep then I can have a few extra hours in bed and start working later on which works well with my fatigue levels. Another advantage is that I can sit in the chair that’s made for me every day which works better with my posture.

Anyone can do this placement and this is why this placement means so much to me as I want to scope this out and lay the foundations so that future students can also do a virtual occupational therapy role-emerging placement as everyone has different ideas.

So, I hope you follow me on this placement and see what I get up to by using the hashtag #VirtualOTPlacement and checking out my WEEKLY blogs because none of this will work without your support! I hope my placement now makes more sense to those who were already aware of it!

Thank you for reading,


What I Would Tell My 10-year-old Self

At the end of the week, I am turning 20 (2 decades) however, before I look forward to the third decade I wanted to reflect on my last decade and talk about what I’ve learnt. I was debating discussing everything that I’ve learnt in the past 20 years but then I realised that it was only around the age of 10 or a bit before when I started to understand a bit more about what having a disability meant (I was actually 9 in this cover photo but it’s cute and as I sit here writing this blog I’m still 19 so). Not only this if I did the whole 20 year’s I think we’d be here a while, we all know I ramble at times I mean I’ve used 2 sets of brackets already… oops!

If I could have a conversation with my 10-year-old self now I would have a lot to tell myself about my disability, I’d probably overload myself we all know I can talk for England. But in all seriousness I wish I had the perspective now of my disability at 10 because it would have made my life a little easier, however, on the other hand, I don’t because I’ve never hated my disability I just used to get a lot more frustrated at it. I guess there’s a pattern to most things, for example, bereavement. If I was born as someone who was never fazed by her disability than who to say that it wouldn’t have affected me later? They’re still good days and bad days, however knowing what I know now and having the attitude I do these bad days are certainly less bad.

But I think the biggest thing I want to tell myself is too keep, on going and be motivated. For example, I always believed that I was never the most academic in school and I’m not saying that now I am, but this belief came from the sets I got put in and the environment. But, now looking back I am better academically then I ever gave myself credit for-story time… When I started secondary school I was put into the lower ability sets, only until a year I got moved up and one teacher turned around to me and said: “I’m so sorry Georgia, we judged your academic abilities based on your disability”. At the time I was shocked but also a bit smug in the nicest possible way, and if I was to talk to my 10-year-old self I just said work hard, stay motivated because it’ll all be worth it in the end. At 10 I did start noticing the gap between myself and my peers and it is hard because I couldn’t do my work fast, I’d always need a scribe and one-to-one but what’s that matter because without that input I wouldn’t be where I am today. If my primary school one-to-one is reading this, I love you! My one-to-ones at secondary were also amazing but my primary one-to-one had such a big impact on my life! Yeah, I stood out and got more support but the one thing I’ve realised in this past decade is that I deserved that support and it’s taken me a long time to realised that but now I no longer feel guilty.

On the flip side of this, I would also like to tell myself that at times it can be tough, and as positive as you try to be, they’re days where insecurities get the better of you. Teenage insecurities, insecurities about university and placement and the biggest one being relationship insecurities. But it’s okay everyone has insecurities disability or not. The teenage insecurities are hard as I’ve already mentioned the gap between peers gets bigger and they’re nights when I cried myself to sleep as all I’ve ever know changed; that’s life and I can now say at 20 I’ve never had so many friends. School friends, university friends, friends from CP Teens up and down the country and friends through social media, the list is endless, I’m a lucky girl!

Now I have different insecurities- when I was in my teenage years it was more about friends and friendships whereas now, I’m 20 (19) I have more insecurities about relationships that, to be honest, I’m still not ready to share. But what I would tell myself is not to get too worked up over that- I never really did as a teenager it’s more so now but I would still tell my teenage self not to worry and just be focused because now I don’t even have time for a relationship even if (though) I want one. Side note, if you follow me on Twitter you will know that this is something I don’t talk about as much as I should, but I’ve skimmed over it in this blog so baby steps.

Lastly, everything is a battle, so I’d tell myself not to give up and be determined! I mentioned this before in my blog about Unexpected Battles (which was also my birthday blog last year, maybe there’s a theme here). But even when it gets hard just keep going because the ending will be more than worth it (this attitude is not always the best though and this is why I’ve not written a relationship blog but hey I’m not that bad). All jokes aside whatever challenges I have faced the end result is always worth it!

Thank you for reading,


Establishing Effective Terminology to Minimise Barriers

As previously mentioned, I am very active on social media, Twitter in particularly- as I find this a very useful tool to connect with other disabled people and occupational therapists not just across the UK but worldwide. Not only this, social media platforms such as Twitter are useful to educate people about disability, and how to approach a disabled person. In which I think is really useful and as a disabled individual in higher education, I find this really important as it’s amazing how many people have called me ‘inspiring’ just because I’m at university which to me is not inspiring because that’s what a lot of people my age do. However, I’m also aware that the people who call me inspiring are only saying this with a kind heart and therefore need educating in a nice way rather than been made to feel belittled…

Now that I’m older and have a better understanding of my disability, I am noticing more and more that some comments towards my disability come from a very uneducated view. One comment that sticks in my mind which I often got as a teenager was “You’re getting much better at walking now” which came from people who saw me in my wheelchair most of the time. Obviously, I wasn’t getting better at walking and will never get better at walking. I used to always thank people when they said this with part of me wishing I should have said “Oh no, my legs just aren’t as tight today.’’ Which looking back now I wish I did say, because how will people know unless they’re educated? But the other part of me was saying just be polite this comment has come from a kind place. Which leaves me with a question… How do we educate people on how to treat disabled people in the correct way?

It’s 2020 if you’re an individual that hasn’t come across a person with a disability then you’ve probably been living under a rock; the reality is some people haven’t and therefore don’t know how to treat disabled people. Yes, treat us like ordinary people that’s a given but I don’t agree with calling a person ableist if they think they’re saying the right thing… Let’s go with the classic example “I don’t see you as disabled”- when people say this to me I’d be lying if I said it didn’t annoy me a little because I am disabled and if you don’t see that you’re looking passed a big part of me. However, on the other hand, I know that when people say this it’s coming from a good place it may not be the right place but it’s still a good place. Yes, these people need to be educated about this, but I don’t think writing this on social media with the hashtag ableist is the right way forward either. I bet, if the majority of the people who make these comments knew that it didn’t go down the way that they intended it to they’d be mortified I know I would be if I made an uneducated backhanded compliment about someone else’s disability. That’s why I don’t think shaming them on social media is the best way to go around it, even if names aren’t mentioned. Say something about it and question them, by all means, but when it’s unintentional, shaming them and getting on your high horse isn’t going to gain their respect.

I know more than anyone what it’s like when you’re making small talk with the taxi driver and you can literally hear the eggshells they’re stepping on because they’re scared to bring up the disability or say something wrong. But, I’d rather they say something wrong so that I can educate them rather than them not speaking because otherwise how are people going to learn? People learn from mistakes and without addressing these comments people will never learn. However, why create a bigger gap by making them feel disrespected? They’re still valued members of society.

If I made a comment and someone had taken this the wrong way, I’d want to respectfully be told why. My comment may not have come from the right place, but I can grantee that it will have come with good intentions and therefore I wouldn’t want to be treated with disrespect. My role as a disabled activist is to educate people, but not only this it’s to minimise the divide between disabled and abled bodied people not to maximise it, but with the wrong attitude towards these comments it could easily turn that way.

Therefore, a big part of this is establishing the correct terminology and phrases, instead of it being “I don’t see you as disabled” it could be…. “I see you for you” which is an ordinary girl who is totally happy with living her disabled lifestyle.

“I see you as disabled and…” Margaret Spencer, @margaretOT360

“I just see you as a person just like anyone else.” Craig Evans @dyspraxicot

“I acknowledge your disability, but it doesn’t define who you are.” Francesca Hughes @Franariella

“Do you mind if I ask how your disability affects you?” Natalie Williams @Natalie_MLW

The cover photo on this blog has been picked as unfortunately on that night the correct terminology wasn’t used!

With establishing this correct terminology people can still be educated but in a less belittling way. When some says “I don’t see you as disabled” yes, I want to ask why but I don’t feel belittled because I know that wasn’t their intentions. So why do they deserve to feel belittled? They deserved to be educated respectfully and if I ever did feel belittled, I would tell them why in a respectful way and make them understand before coming to the judgement that their ableist.

A lot of attitudes around disability need to change: the attitudes of people who are just dam right ableist, the attitudes of those that feel sorry for the disabled but also the attitudes of people who think that someone’s sympathy is them being ableist. I’m not saying that these sympathy comments don’t get annoying because they do; that’s why it’s called being sympathetic and not being empathetic. During my next placement, in the up and coming weeks, I will be working on changing people’s attitudes towards disability from a service user, students and a healthcare professional’s perspective. But which one will I find is the most suitable? The answer is probably going to be all 3, but until I complete this placement and have reflected, I don’t know.

Change is good, and I’m aware that even in 2020 we still need to change people’s uneducated or naive attitudes regarding disability. But treat people how you want to be treated, right?

Thank you for reading,


A Year of Not So Terrible Palsy

Happy New Year and happy 1st birthday to Not So Terrible Palsy! I cannot believe that I have been blogging for a year and what an amazing year it’s been, I for one did not think that a year on people would still be reading my blog I’m incredibly thankful. So, I thought I would reflect on 2019 and discuss how much of an impact it has had on my future career…

At the start of the year I knew that I wanted to do more with my disability which is why I started my blog, but I did not think that 2019 would be as influential as it has on me. During 2019 I learnt a lot about myself, my disability and of course occupational therapy and in which my views on these three things have all changed as the link is becoming more apparent making me think more about how I want my future to look like. As mentioned one thing that has changed this year is how I see myself as a disabled individual and I feel like during 2019 I realised that not only is my disability a strength but actually my disability is the best part of me and this is all thanks to CP Teens UK. In January 2019 I went to my first social event with CP Teens and it made me realise just how much I’ve been missing out on. I’ve always been a bit hesitant about going to events with other disabled people as when I was younger, I didn’t want to be seen as ‘disabled’. Which I know seems stupid now; that’s how I saw it! However, I had a really great time at bowling and after this event, I was determined not to miss out again.

In February I met Lost Voice Guy at one of his incredible show! It was a brilliant moment for me because when explaining who I was to Lee he replied “I know who you are” this was really important to me as a few weeks before this Lee had also commented on my blog saying that he loved the name and couldn’t wait to read more. At the time my blog had only been around for a month so to get the response was something special.

February was also great for another reason as Tommy was born! Tommy has taught our family so much in which I have mentioned in my previous blogs No Longer Being the Only Disabled Member of the Family and Down’s Syndrome Awareness Month 2019. I can’t believe Tommy’s not even been in our lives for a year, it’s crazy! Tommy, we love you so much, and hats off to Tommy’s Mummy, Amanda for being a great advocate for Down’s Syndrome awareness during 2019 I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for you.

March, (in case you haven’t realised we’re going to be here a while). For Cerebral Palsy awareness month in 2019, I went all out with 5 posts in a month- I loved it. The challenges Ruby’s Makeup, Cutting the Grass, Attempting to Play Darts and Cooking Dinner were so great I enjoyed doing them (and dragging my whole family into it). They all went down really well I even received messages from people saying how much they loved them and couldn’t wait to read another challenge the following week- I was really taken back by the response I received from these challenges! I hope to bring them back soon!

From the end of March to the beginning of May I learnt a lot about my personal and professional development as I undertook my first occupational therapy placement in paediatrics. I absolutely loved this first placement and was very thankful for the opportunities I got given through this placement, I knew right from the start that I wanted to have a paediatric placement so I feel very lucky that this was my first placement and could see myself working in paediatrics in the future! During my time on placement, I delivered my first ever presentation about my blog and what an amazing experience it was I am truly thankful for this opportunity as without this I wouldn’t have found out about other opportunities such as the CountMeIn conference in June 2020. In which I got asked to be a keynote speaker, I am truly honoured and humbled to have been asked I am very much looking forward to going to this incredible event.

This placement will always be significant to me as my response from my presentation made me realise where I want my career to be heading, in which I discuss in my blog and Why I Study Occupational Therapy. So, thank you to all those who made this placement so significant and I look forward to working with you in 2020!

But of course, May doesn’t end there… I can’t forget about driving!

Yes, we all know because I bored you all to death about it in a super long blog post but in May I finally got my car! Getting my car has to be the highlight of the year as I’d been waiting so long and even now when I’m having driving lessons I’m still in disbelief that I’m where I am.

Looking back May was probably my favourite month of the year, from having the best time on placement to getting my car and of course, let’s not forget about the sponsored wobble with CP Teens…

At the sponsored wobble in May, I brought quite a big crew and we all loved it so much it was one of the best days of the year, my family love this charity so much and will go to great lengths to help raise money for it as long as we can.

Sticking with CP Teens at the end of May I got asked to be an ambassador in which I whole-heartedly said yes to and had my first blog post for them published in June! This has got to be one of my best achievements this year I have been wanting to become an ambassador for CP Teens for a while and I did not think that I would become one in 2019. But here we are 6 months in, and I’m absolutely loving it! CP Teens has been a big part of my life this year and I honestly believe that they have helped me to become the person I am today who isn’t fazed by her disability in the slightest.

In July I enjoyed some time off to really work on Not So Terrible Palsy- due to being a full-time student I can’t dedicate as much time to my blog as I would like so it was nice to have the time to work on it and to finally get it to the way I wanted it to look. As a new blogger, this was my opportunity to get my name out there and so I did and had a story featured on The Mighty and also had a few of my blogs published on The Occupational Therapy Hub.

However, over the summer I did enjoy some time to myself! In August I went on holiday and took my new electric wheelchair with me for the first time which was an experience that I was very nervous about; it turned out to be great, I felt so much more independent- no looking back now, my electric wheelchair best be prepared to face more adventures. As well as catching up with friends over the summer I FINALLY had the pleasure of seeing my favourite artist Ed Sheeran, and what a night this was. I still can’t believe it’s happened I don’t want to sound corny, but it really was a dream come true!

As you can tell I like to be busy, so when September came around and it was time to go back to university, I was so ready!!! I love being back at uni- the course, the people just everything about it. I always get scared that I’ve not picked the right course and that I’m going to fall out with it but being back at university brings back all the warm feelings towards occupational therapy and I know that this is the perfect course for me. I have to thank university for being so supportive of my needs which I mentioned in my blog about Reflecting on My First Year at University. University is also very supportive of my blog and commitments outside of university and makes sure I have everything in place to get this balance right and I am very thankful for this. In fact, in 2020 I have a very exciting placement coming up in which I get to use NSTP as part of it- all will be revealed in February.

October, which means my favourite day of the year! World CP Day!!! I really do love this day so much and this year I decided to do another challenge in which I caught the bus in my wheelchair. Not only this the word was out, I could also finally tell everyone that I was going to be a keynote speaker I was so excited, I always wanted to announce this on World CP day so when I found out that I could I was so happy- perfect timing!

At the end of October through to mid-December, I was on my second occupational therapy placement, this was challenging but such a great experience, I really did learn a lot yet again about my personal and professional development as mentioned in my blog about Transitioning from a Service User to a Healthcare Professional. I’m so lucky to have had two wonderful placement experiences this year!

Of course, let’s not forget about one of the best nights of the year the CP Teens annual ball in November! What an incredible night it was, I will certainly be returning next year!

Once bottle green, always bottle green!

Christmas has been great, and I really have ended the year on a high note with the most beautiful family wedding congratulations Mr and Mrs Shaw!

So 2019…

31 posts on Not So Terrible Palsy.
Had my driving story featured on The Mighty.
Had 2 blogs featured on The Occupational Therapy Hub.
Became an ambassador and have written 4 blogs for CP Teens UK.
Completed 2 placements.
Got asked to be a keynote speaker!

What a year it’s been thank you for all your support I couldn’t have achieved any of this without it. I’m still taken back every time someone leaves a positive comment on my blog and says that they enjoy reading my content. So, as much as this blog is to say thank you for your support it’s also to say thank you for believing in me!

THANK YOU! I can’t wait for what is to come in 2020!

Georgia x