An interesting view on working with kids with autism.

Days of Our OT Lives: “Quiet hands”.

I feel the need to share this entry with you because it really does resonated with some of my thoughts. Karen, an OT working in the Californian school system, makes a point about whether we are doing the right thing by trying to change the behaviours of children with autism. My train of thought is: if these behaviours are comforting or make the children happy, by trying to change them, are we not deliberately making the children unhappy?

Anyway, Karen is much more suited to reflect on this issue, given that she has worked with children now for a couple years.

Which brings me to just a little update on my own job hunting. I’ve found some jobs in the area for OTs to potentially get started within the school system. They don’t pay as well as an OT position, but that’s because they’re teaching assistant jobs. I’m still applying, as I believe I have the skills necessary, and there seems to be a sudden dearth of specifically OT jobs in the area…

Flan has a job! I have research experience! And news from today.

Lots of things to share with you today!

Flan has a job.

In the space of two days, Flan received two job offers. Listening to his personal OT, he chose the one that would give him a better quality of life, even though they offered him less money. (He’ll still be earning more than I’ll be any time soon…)

I’m still looking for one. There seems to be a sudden drop in OT jobs on offer in Oxfordshire. I’ve just found an administrative position within the Oxford Wheelchair Services though, which I think might be a good starting point. Sure, it’s only a Band 3 position, but if I want to work in high-tech assistive technology one day, a good place to start is becoming familiar with wheelchairs. Wheelchairs are a form of assistive technology, and people who use wheelchairs will often use assistive technology. It’ll be a good learning opportunity, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll need a Band 5 OT in the near future, and then I can maybe get promoted to that.

In the meantime, I’ve been helping out with my university’s Japanese visitors and conducting a one-day research project.

Postgraduate nursing and occupational therapy students from Japan’s Tokyo Metropolitan University have been visiting Oxford the past few weeks to learn English and gain international collaborative research experience. They’ve been working with a handful of first year OT students (almost second year now) this week. The local OT students are getting a head start on their peers and learning about different research methods; the Japanese students are already familiar with research methods – but only in Japanese. I was asked to come on board because of my familiarity with Japanese culture, and because I’m a computer wizard.

Today involved me being on data duty, inputting data from the demographic questionnaires and post-VR experience questionnaires. I got my first taste of being on the researchers’ side of the fence, dealing with participant codes and confidentiality forms. It was great fun, and I enjoyed comparing pre- and post-experience opinions on how virtual reality could be used in rehabilitation, particularly with the elderly. Just looking at the average scores for these questions, I could see that the experience of using the VR technology positively altered students’ opinions on whether it could be used for rehabilitation.

Now, to finish off, some…

Interesting news articles

Ofsted warns that disabled children are more vulnerable to neglect and abuse.

Computers may be diagnosing your diseases in the near future.

Tony Nicklinson dies days after losing his ‘right to die’ case. (More news from the Guardian on assisted suicide)

A positive take on locked-in syndrome – Michael Cubiss. I actually teared up a bit! But I do believe in allowing people to have the choice to end their life. Who are we to dictate whether a person should suffer against their will or not?

If you’re a man, you may want to rethink having kids the older you get. A genetic study has linked paternal age with some mental health problems, such as autism and schizophrenia.

Giving babies antibiotics may lead to weight gain later on. 

Back in the UK.

I took a look around Stellenbosch University on Monday. I wish I had done my undergraduate degree there, although it wouldn’t really have been in Stellenbosch, so maybe not. The OT department is over in Cape Town. My cousin took me around Stellenbosch and showed me the university grounds. They were amazing. Even though it’s winter down there, it was warm and sunny, and I could just imagine myself lying out in the sun with my books. He’s doing a master’s in industrial engineering, and he showed me the massive collection of engineering buildings.

He also introduced me to a few lecturers there that might be able to help me sort out a masters for myself within the engineering department. One suggested Engineering Management, which would look at the implementation of technology and devices, testing their usability. I’m sure OT could apply there! The other was a researcher within the mechatronic/biomedical engineering department, and he was personally creating an app (iOS and Android) that, with the help of a few sensors, could monitor maternal health and predict eclampsia. I was so inspired by this lecturer to think of my own ideas for rehabilitation devices, as you might have guessed that I am a big believer in telerehabilitation, or simply getting the regular exercise that a weekly OT/PT sessions can’t quite provide. However, he also said that it wouldn’t be a simple programme for me to fit into. For a start, I don’t have the engineering background, so I’d have to do a few classes to at least get a basic understanding. At Stellenbosch, you need to achieve a certain number of credits, even when doing a research masters. So I’d need to work with various departments to tailor my degree to my needs and interests, getting credits from engineering, OT, maths and possibly human biology classes.

Sounds like my kind of fun.