Disability A-Z: O is for Occupational Therapy and Occupational Therapists

When I was thinking of what to talk about for this post, I immediately thought of Occupational Therapy, as this is a big part of the therapy that’s available for my disabilities.

Occupational therapy is a healthcare profession which focuses on helping people who are disabled to learn, maintain or improve their ability to perform activities of daily living.

This post is relavant to me now, since I am currently working with on Occupational Therapist (OT) to get my wheelchair accessories.

Last year, I won a writing competition by talking about how occupational therapy has helped me and an occupational therapist who made an impact on my life.

The occupational therapists I have known in my life have not been many. I don’t know if I had occupational therapy before I was four and a half at all, but when I was four and a half, I met Maggie Ellis, who would be my OT untill I was seventeen years old. She was the person I talked about in my OT Story for 3E Love’s Wheelchair Heart last year.

The places I have had occupational therapy have been varied, from the Hugh Ellis Paediatric Assesment Centre in the grounds of The Churchill Hospital in Oxford. I’ve had some at home and also at other hospitals.

Maggie is in my memory and heart as someone who was kind, funny, cheerful and encouraging. I always had a smile on my face when I saw her.

She noticed how I embrace my disabilities and uniqueness. She saw that I didn’t need someone to help me do that. She saw as my self confidence grew.

She saw how hard I tried to do things, and suggested I take a break for as long as needed, and detailed the fact that fatigue can give me headaches.

She helped me use the voice dictation software that I used for school and university assignments, and she gave my teachers advice on how to meet my needs better.

This did not always work because of people’s attitudes, but she did a great job of helping me.

As an adult, I once had occupational therapy with my physiotherapist as the occupational therapist was off work, and so that was a different experience. She got me to try and move a big gym ball with my hand (I couldn’t) and she figured out that a ball would need to have something to help me feel it better in my hand. So she suggested a ball with raised areas so I could feel it. She tried to get me to pick up a small block.

Occupational therapists have helped me get daily living aids throughout my life. Thank you Maggie and Helen, I will always remember you as people who really helped me.

At times, including recently, I’ve had to be my own occupational therapist, when searching for products when for some reason I did not get the help I needed.

I used my knowledge of my own needs when choosing a computer and have searched for many articles before deciding on a wheelchair, wheelchair cushion, backrest bed, hoist (Hoyer lift) cutlery (eating utensils) or whatever I need.

I have then talked to my OTs about products to see what they think. Other times, they have recommended products.

Occupational therapy and occupational therapists will always be a part of my life, but by working with them I have essential equipment and aids that I otherwise would not have.

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