Thought from Spaghetti- Ask questions!

I was making spaghetti the other day and it brought back thoughts of activity analysis and fieldwork that I thought I would share. 

I remember my very first Level 1 fieldwork instructor being worried that I didn't ask enough questions. I'm a shy person by nature and also tend to think on things for awhile before asking questions so I see if I can figure it out on my own. It took me a long time to see her point, but asking questions is essential in OT.

If I was in rehab, and engaged in a cooking task (not hard to imagine that being an activity) it would be an interesting experience. A lot of my "cooking" is actually "microwaving" or "putting frozen meal in skillet." Not something I'm proud of but it is where I am right now. When I think of a meal that I actually make, spaghetti is pretty frequently it. But a lack of questions on the part of our imaginary therapist could yield a very different experience than I intended.

If a therapist didn't ask many questions after learning that I wanted to make spaghetti, they would still probably feel like they knew how to accomplish that goal. Buy some spaghetti noodles, a jar of sauce, bingo bango there's your meal, there's your occupation-based activity, your patient is rehabilitated. But I would be so unhappy if someone thought that was how I would make spaghetti at home, how I would want to continue making spaghetti. That is someone's idea of spaghetti, but it is certainly not mine.

If they did ask questions, they'd learn that I don't really want spaghetti noodles- I say "spaghetti" but usually mean rotini (springies) or penne. And I want to take the sauce and paste and spices and mix my own sauce. I need sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and maybe oregano. I don't want to measure anything except with my eyes and hands. I need to be able to stand there and mix it all up with my spoon. Ideally, I'd make it with meat but that's become an issue of late (e.g. since 1996). I don't do raw meat if I can avoid it, and I've gotten pretty good about avoiding it. After all this, I need to be able to shake the parmesean cheese to get the lumps out, and pig out on my favorite meal. 

Why do I want to do it that way? It was the way my mother did, the way I learned to do it, and the way I want to keep doing it. By asking questions, someone could figure that out. So be sure to ask, ask ask

Here's some good ones you may want to try. The follow up is as important as the initial. 
What is your main goal that you'd like to accomplish through therapy? What does that look like?
How are things going now? What makes the situation better?
What have you already tried? Are you willing to change the task by trying ... ? What is essential not to change?


Samantha said...

wonderful example! I loved this post! Thanks



Cheryl said...

Thank you Samantha!

Hosia Towery said...

Nice observations...I recall working in a LTC facility years ago with a 92-yr.old transplanted from Italy to "retire" with her son. She ended up in the LTC when her son found a Mrs. Depression led to disuse/debility; however, after a feeble attempt to have her make spaghetti using my limited ingredients - she became angry at my idea of spaghetti. A list, some shopping and I had her engaged in making REAL scratch spaghetti for the nurses/staff. She opened up after this as staff responded with joy to her exceptional cooking and both sides were viewed a new.

Michelle LaDuc said...

Thanks Cheryl. I start my level one fieldwork in a couple of weeks. I will make sure I ask questions.