April has been a very busy month! I hold this month very close to my heart as it is Autism Awareness month, Month of the Young Child and OT month. As an occupational therapist I have worked with many children and adults with autism. What is autism or autism spectrum disorder? Autism is a developmental disability that causes significant difficulties with a person’s social characteristics, communication and behavior. People with autism demonstrate decreased social, emotional, and communication skills. Individuals may also repeat certain behaviors and have a difficulty with a change in routine. Autism Speaks is a worldwide organization that is an excellent resource to learn more about autism. Since the foundation of Autism Speaks in 2005, the organization “has grown into the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.” Please click on http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html or https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism to have an in depth description of autism, causes, symptoms, treatment, etc.
Beginning in 1971 there was one week that was nationally recognized as the Week of the Young Child. However, in 1985 Michigan decided to dedicate the entire month of April to the Month of the Young Child (MOYC) with each week designated to a specific developmental area. This year the focus weeks were as follows:
- Week 1 April 1 – 9 Physical Development
- Week 2 April 10 – 16 Physical Development
- Week 3 April 17 – 23 Emotional Development
- Week 4 April 24 – 30 Cognitive Development
Please visit http://www.miaeyc.org/moyc.htm to access resources, activities and more information regarding the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (MiAEYC).
In celebration to the MOYC, Cotter Early Childhood selected the month to display wonderful work being accomplished by the young students in preschool. The work was on display at the Administrative Service Center (ASC), Dearborn Public Schools.
Lastly, in celebration of OT month here is some information taken directly from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) website at http://www.aota.org/Conference-Events/OTMonth/what-is-OT.aspx.
Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability.
Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Occupational therapy services typically include:
- an individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals,
- customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals, and
- an outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan.
Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment and/or task to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team. It is an evidence-based practice deeply rooted in science.
I am proud to be an occupational therapist as I help people to become more independent in life. I have worked with individuals from pediatrics to geriatrics, from mental health to physical disabilities. I get to help put all the “puzzle pieces” together so individuals can live life to its fullest. It doesn’t get better than that!