Dipping a toe into twitter chat

While I was on vacation this summer, I was finally able to participate in my first #OTalk session via twitter. Because the brains behind this chat are in the UK, it's usually hard for me to join in due to work required at 3pm EST. But since I can't be outside most of the day while on vacay and the topic was about blogging, it was perfect timing to participate.

So, briefly, if you're not using twitter yet here's a few things you should know. Twitter is a microblogging service which allows you to post updates of 140 characters or less. By using a hashtag (# +designated word/s) you can connect with any other user also discussing the topic. You can use a service when participating in a twitter chat to make following the stream easier, or you can search within the basic twitter client. This was my first time in a twitter chat, and I was able to find this great introductory post to make it even easier.

I used TweetChat to easily follow the conversation and have it automatically add the proper hashtag for each tweet. It was easy to just log in with my twitter account and not have to setup anything extra. I was also able to bookmark the room for #otalk so I am all setup for subsequent weeks as well. The reply/RT/ and quote system was a little clunky, but the overall setup functioned well for what I needed.

It was great to be able to communicate with OTs all around the world on the topic. Lots of great ideas flying around, it was an exciting OT-geek time. :) The UK group also compiles all the tweets in their blog so you can review things later too. I found the experience to be fairly easy to participate in and well worth the time for the benefit. If you're wondering why you created a twitter account in the first place and would like to really see the benefits of interactions- I would really encourage you to participate in the next #otalk or #occhat you can. If interest spikes, maybe we can do more US versions as well.

Have you participated in an OT twitter chat? What topic would entice you to give it a try?


Photo Phriday: The OT Look

A recent magazine cover reminded me of these photos, which I don't think I've posted yet. I like the professional photos that I got done, but it is a credit to the photographer that I got so many usable shots of me looking like a normal human. 80% of the time that I am working with kids, my face is not perfectly posed, it's just perfectly odd. But it's ok, because this is what I think a real OT looks like.

choo choo face

helicopter face

sound effects make the day fun! I've always believed that my willingness to make a complete fool out of myself was very appealing to patients of all ages. What are your silly strategies for success?


What a feeling...

It's been a long time since I've felt THIS good about a mid-week day off. (I hope I won't regret days like this if I go from underemployed to actually unemployed. ugh... think happy thoughts...) But anyway, let's just talk about the now. The mid-week day off is sometimes better than the weekend, because it's just me, doing what I want without anyone else's expectations or plans.

I have been feeling really burned out lately. Feeling extra fatigued for awhile, starting to have trouble sleeping for the first time in a long time, and just generally feeling behind in a lot of life areas. We took in a 2-week boarder, which was a little more work than I expected and less evening down time. I knew I'd be covering the hospital solo earlier this week, but wasn't booked for prn or EI appointments Thursday or Friday, and just decided to leave it that way.

I don't know if a before and after picture could do it justice, but I wish you could take a before and after shot of my emotional state. Yesterday, I felt like a jelly brain, and today, after sleeping in, massive amounts of dishes and laundry and picking up I just feel very at peace. Anyone who knows me personally probably just fainted at that sentence. It's not that I relish in doing chores (quite the opposite!) and I've long held in doubt info about how people need crystal clean workspaces to get things done. But getting the upper hand on this little, tangible, visible part of my life has made things feel that much more secure.

so life is (at least temporarily) pretty good.


Running documents to make a job search easier

I'm still in the midst of job searching and uncertainty. Though I am trying to maintain myself in a cool, calm, collected manner, I have still noted several times that there are things I wish I would have written down to make further job searching easier. ( I have previously covered some general job searching tips for OT students that you may also find useful) Read on for tips that can save you a few headaches.

-Running Documents
There are several documents that you should always have an ongoing copy of (no, not a record of your 5K speeds). I keep my items like this on Google Drive because it is accessible from any computer or my phone, but other cloud storage may work better for you.

Obviously you should have a working resume at all times. If you're really on top of things, you could have a running CV with details of each major project you are part of listed. (I have never needed to provide a CV for a job thus far, but some fellowship-type opportunities request them)

Though it shouldn't take up room on your resume, you should keep a list of your employers' addresses and phone numbers because this is often called for on job applications.

In a similar vein, you'll want to have a running document with contact information for your references. Include phone, email, and mailing address because everyone wants something different.

In OT world, background checks are frequently required, which means you should also keep a record of your own address for the past 7 years or so. (If you hate that idea and want to stay off the grid, keeping your fingerprints to yourself- you're in the wrong field.)

For a serious job search, I keep a list of viable job opportunities. I list out whether there is an active opening, what steps I have taken, and who my contact is at the company. This lets me have 1 place to see where my prospects are, which places are calling me back, and when I last heard from them. If plan A doesn't work out, it's easy to see what other lines are still in the water.

I haven't done this, because I have proven to have widely varied and changing plans, but it might be a good idea to have a working long term plan. In this could be personal goals for how you want to develop as a clinician. Writing these goals down is the first step to making them a reality, and being familiar with your own goals is important in an interview.

Unfortunately, having these documents won't completely streamline your job application process. There have been numerous times when I just want to hand people a few of these papers (or already have) but still have to fill out some repetitive application by hand because every applicant has to fill out the standard form. It's a pet peeve of mine, but not likely to go away anytime soon, so be aware of it.

Good luck to all those searching for jobs! Please feel free to share your helpful hints in the comments below!


Getting Started in Early Intervention: Assessment

I have recently been able to get started an early intervention system, providing OT to families in their homes and communities. It definitely required a lot of paperwork to get started, but there was also a need for mental preparation and acquiring tools. Though my school system job involved using IFSPs, I was providing services in a preschool and had (ample!) materials provided. Here are some resources that I used in preparing to perform OT assessments and treatment in an early intervention setting.

I reviewed a number of assessments when I was trying to decide what to buy. Some were seriously outdated or limited the areas assessed. I wasn't able to consider others because they were made to be a true team assessment, which is true of the TBPA. While I can't speak to the practicality of using the assessment as a team arena approach, I do want to discuss the intervention book. So often, the intervention books that come with assessments are rather worthless. This is a book that I want to add into my own collection. The intervention book has many strategies to increase skills in all domains and adaptations for performance factor limitations. I think it would be helpful to anyone in early intervention because it gives you information from a multidisciplinary point of view, so it had info that I had not previously been exposed to.

After looking at multiple assessments (which had to be on an approved list), I decided to purchase the ELAP. The fact that I needed to be able to assess all domains of development, not just motor or adaptive, was a heavy factor in this decision. Also, I needed to keep costs low and the manuals and scoresheets for the test were very reasonably priced and the kit can be assembled in a non standard manner. This is a criterion referenced test which allows you to figure out an approximate age. I have friends who use the EIDP, which is even lower in cost, but I was a little worried that I wouldn't see enough during the test to get a good assessment. I also decided later to purchase an infant-toddler sensory profile (the SPM-P is not approved in my state, so it is the only sensory measure).

This picture shows some of the materials I was able to get for my testing kit. Many of the items came from yard sales or discount stores. I have always loved the pipsqueaks markers, so they were a must-have item for me. I liked the tactile puzzles we had at school so I felt fortunate to find one for sale. I found a surprising number of high quality wooden beads and blocks for cheap, which I was super happy about. The orb over on the right has spinning lights and I got it for a quarter... it is going to be a favorite toy. I need more things that make noise for kiddos with visual impairments, but the squeaky toy I got (in the pet section) is super responsive and loud, so it will do for now. Not pictured, but worth a mention is the formboard puzzle I got from Manzanita Kids on etsy. They were very responsive to my custom order, made it with high contrast materials as requested, and it is a very high quality piece.

Other Resources:
What to Expect from an EI eval- from the dual perspective of therapist and parent
Abby's blog has been featuring parent interviews which includes tips they'd like therapists to know


OT Web Gems- RSS edition

Here are some items that I had recently starred on my google reader feed and am now finally getting around to sharing. I think that on the sidebar, where I have OT & related blogs listed, you should be able to see my starred items. Here's some of the best things recently!

Jamie Oliver tells David Beckham et al to be responsible for their advertising. I could write a lot on this, and might sometime in the future. Oliver basically called out athletes who were schilling for fast food, soda, and junk food companies as contributing to childhood obesity. Whether they like it or not, athletes in the public sphere are role models, and if they are endorsing poor food choices, this could have an effect on the kids. On the other hand, I understand where an Olympic athlete who doesn't get a lot of publicity or sponsorship opportunities might feel compelled to take whatever monies that are available to them.

Linda brought up the issue that internet and computer use are now BADL. Without computer access, people may be unable to pay their bills or even access government forms. Are we accurately assessing and treating deficits in this skill?

Special-ism had an article on helping kids with Asperger's develop more flexible planning strategies. I thought this was a very practical way to approach the social skills issue of rigid thinking and planning.

The PT think tank discussed how learning and knowing has changed in the digital age. There are definitely benefits in the shift from memorization and having more access to information, but we have to make sure that our analysis and synthesis of information is not lost. Ultimately, you will never be able to discuss the full implications of a research article in 140 characters, so you still have to be willing to do some legwork for EBP.

Mothers in Medicine discussed sharing medical advice via social media, and where a physician's responsibility ends. This is a great topic I would love to see explored further. We all see people displaying questionable medical choices on Facebook or IRL, and at what point do you have to step in? How does your interference fit with ethical and legal principles? A great point of debate for those interested in medical professions and social media.

Color-coded interaction badges from a conference were discussed in the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. I thought this was a good idea for a conference to let people know how to approach you, and a cute take to think about how that would work in normal everyday situations.

Autism Daddy (clearly a member of the sandwich generation) discussed the agony of dealing with his father's worsening Parkinson's disease. Sadly, his father has passed recently, but this look back at a family perspective of diagnosis with a degenerative condition and navigating the health and nursing care system is worth a read.

Lastly, Abby posted a TED talk on early detection of autism. I wish that I watched more TED talks, they seem to be a great thing, but between my terrible video card on the tiny lappy and my TV habit, I have a hard time getting around to it. I will get around to watching this one for sure.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on any of these 8 stories!


Photo Phriday- phinally uploaded style

Off topic: It is a little-kept secret that I use a lot of google products. Clearly I'm on blogger, I also have an android phone, and I use chrome as my browser. I do this since these products usually work very well. While I don't use google+ as a social networking option often, I've said before that our presentation team had great results with the video chatting and I also rely on the instant upload feature for these posts and for my own personal use. However, it has been very glitchy on my phone lately and only works when I actively force it to synchronize. Hopefully, they're fixing this to be a bit more "instant" as advertised, since that is the whole point. /end rant

On to the photos!

This is an old worksheet from when I was still in the schools. I thought it was a particularly unique and interesting perceptual take that this little guy started to copy the design correctly, just inverted.
Saw this cute little thermometer sign when I was back in my old hometown for high school reunion. The Junior League is apparently raising money for a universally accessible playground for the city park. I love seeing efforts to increase accessibility and really hope that accessible playgrounds start to take off in more places. There are often grants available for this kind of project, so get inspired and get one for your community!

This is a photo of my grocery list before my triathlon (which explains things like the protein drinks). I include this as another kind of hopeful note for people. 10 years ago, I would eat only 22% of these foods, and most of them would not have been things I would have willingly bought to eat (i.e. I would nibble at salad at the Olive Garden, but I never would have chosen to eat that as my daily lunch).

Had to get my scrubs out of storage when I started doing prn for my old hospital. I'm glad I didn't give them all away...

How can you tell an OT car? Mine has a sticker from OT school, one from AOTA, and this little MacGuyver'ed contraption to help me remember what I need to do everyday. It's become even more important now that I have a longer commute- just more time to forget about what I was supposed to do. But 2 papers and one of those little gold clips that lets papers rotate (what is that called?!) allowed me to make a simple reminder tool for the places I need to go most. It's a little big for the car, but it's worked out well.

I've been going to a lot of baby showers lately, it's just that time of my life. I do go off-registry for some super cool items. I have loved the Tommy Tippee crumb catch/roll up bibs and when I saw these bowls I could tell I would love them too. These bowls have corners and an inner lip to make it easier for toddlers to feed themselves.