When I was in grad school, I read an article by Preston Lewis (1981) entitled: My 18-year-old Brother Daryl. In this article, an adult sibling depicts the difficulties his brother faces as an 18-year-old man who has seemingly met all of his clinical therapy goals, but is unable to function independently in the community. This article (seen below) began the initial shaping of my emphasis on function and practical skill development as a budding Occupational Therapist (OT).
As OTs we spend about 90% of our day promoting the growth and development of our clients, and 10% of our day clarifying what occupational therapy actually is. The American Occupational Therapy Association explains, “Occupational therapy practitioners work with children, youth, and their families, caregivers, and teachers to promote active participation in activities or occupations that are meaningful to them,” (AOTA, 2014). Many parents find themselves thinking, “What exactly are occupations?” or “Wait, my child is only 3 years old; he doesn’t have a job.” As a matter of fact, children have the most important “jobs” of all: to learn academics and self care skills, to grow and play, to interact with others and make friends. It is our job as OTs to help children gain the skills needed to succeed in each of these meaningful roles, not only in the clinic, but more importantly at home, at school, and in the community.