Maternity plan

People have been asking me about what my work plan will be after the baby since before we knew there was be a baby (part of another larger topic destined to be a journal entry, maybe a public entry) but the questions have certainly multiplied as time has gone on. Part of starting a job while 6 months pregnant is that everyone wants to know what you intend to do in the coming months. But I've been blogging much longer than anything else, so I feel like I need to share a maternity plan for the blog so you the reader aren't left in the dark.

Ultimately, I have a lot of stuff going on right now. It's very stressful. I had set a deadline of last week of March/first week of April for A LOT of to-dos and now we're actually coming up on that. It's intense. Blogging is not high on my priority list, it's definitely below prepping for the AOTA conference (via video), transitioning kids at work, and trying to get the house in order.

I have been trying to get one post per week scheduled in advance. A big part of this is taking old drafts and finishing them, or posting things I wrote long ago. I'm also just trying to make peace with some shorter or more compilation entries. Originally, I had just been making sure there'd be one post a week, now I think I will schedule them all for Tuesdays so that people who don't have RSS (or haven't found a google reader alternative GRAWR) know when to show up. As of now, this is set to go through May, but I know that I probably will fade and have some absences. I am going to put the #10minTues tag on hiatus since all posts will be on Tuesdays and they have been longer than 10 minutes to write.

I will probably lurk on some other blogs but not comment very much. And I expect that I will largely just delete items unread. If there's anything dramatic, I might need some fireworks or other attention-grabbing strategies so that I get to it within a month or so. I will probably lurk on twitter in the same way, but I would expect more updates or at least retweets over there.

Truthfully, when I'm not working, I don't have a lot of OT revelations that are fit for sharing. And there's going to be a new gigantic focus in my life, so I don't anticipate a lot of extra energy floating around for OT stuff. But I'll be back at some point.

I wish I had advice for people who were trying to plot out their own leave, but since my job situation is ... extremely unique ... I don't think my strategy would be very helpful to anyone else. I am scheduled normally for 2 days/week but have now dropped down to 1 day for scheduling purposes. I continue to see two of my EI clients who don't need frequent services but have transitioned the rest to other therapists. I do occasionally take a prn day at the hospital outpatient as well. Hopefully this very reduced schedule will help me get some other things done prior to baby time.

Kinda rambly. But here's the goals:
New posts on Tuesdays (when they are available)
I'll try to do comment moderation at least once a week
I will post a family picture when add our new little guy
the blog may get dusty, but will not be abandoned :)


#10minTues - Advocacy on the Quick

Often, when I talk with people about OT advocacy, they are interested but not really sure where to start. They also want to avoid a big time commitment. Here's a few super-quick ways for super-busy people to still take action.

First of all, are you an AOTA member? Because if you care about OT being represented on a federal level especially, then you need to join. AOTA (just like other professional organizations like the AMA) can only claim to represent the practitioners who are actually members, not all the OTs in the country. Also, the political action committee, AOTPAC, cannot take money from non-members. So if you're an non-member OT/A who benefits from the work that AOTA is doing (and you probably do), that would make you dead weight. Don't get offended, just get active. TOTAL TIME: 15 minutes to setup

AOTA has this great resource called the legislative action center. Using this literally can take less than a minute, and still is a way to make a big impact. I get an email from an AOTA staffer describing an action alert- here recently it was the Occupational Therapy in Mental Health Act (HR 1037). (sidenote, when your job title is in the title of the bill, it is a BIG DEAL. Action cannot be delayed.) Staffer sends a link to the action center, and since I am already a registered user, it knows from my saved zip code who all my senators and representatives are. Then it provides me with a form letter (which I usually change, and is why it takes longer than 1 minute) and automatically emails it to all the right people. Baddabing, baddaboom, it's done. Occasionally I get an email (or even a letter!) back from the congressperson's office. And your representatives seriously do care what you think on issues. There are so many bills in and out everyday, they don't read them all, and if a constituent has an opinion, that can sway their vote. TOTAL TIME: 5 minutes to setup, 1 minute or less thereafter

Social media is changing how issues are communicated. As it is now, I get detailed emails from the state legislative staff (by virtue of my Advocacy VP position in my state organization) but I can't read them all in-depth. What I do read are the Stop the Therapy Cap facebook posts, and the updates I get on twitter from the organization and legislative staff. I'm already on those sites, and getting a quick update on where the issues stand as I'm browsing through is so simple.TOTAL TIME: 2 minutes to setup, 1 minute or less thereafter

In the same way that social media has affected our information acquisition, so has mobility/portability. I like things I can do from my phone instead of tied to my computer. So while I know I can look up online various bills and what my reps are doing, there's an app for that- (and it's a free one!) called Congress (Android and Windows) or MyCongress (Apple). The free app helps you find your reps via zip code and allows you to favorite them, giving you quick access to how they're voting, their committees, and a way to contact them. You can also favorite bills to check their status. If you're super involved you can get push notifications on when committees are meeting or when a hearing is going to happen for your bill. TOTAL TIME: 2 minutes to setup, 2 minutes or less thereafter

So many people are afraid to get involved with advocacy efforts. Don't be! By virtue of being an OT practitioner, you are an expert in OT! Share that expertise with the people in power using these quick methods. Feel free to share your preferred ways to advocate or other advocacy questions/concerns you have in the comments below.

Additional resources
Want to do Advocacy? There's Something for Everyone by AOTA
AOTA Advocacy section
Lifehacker article How to Discuss Politics Without Sounding Like an Idiot (has info on the apps)


Energy Conservation for Chores

Spring has sprung, and with it, the return of chores galore. Here are some tips to simplify the chores and save more energy for things that you prefer to do.

-Use machines where possible- dishwasher, washer/dryer, automatic shower cleaner, automatic toilet cleaners, Roomba, and the car wash. 

-Use lightweight objects when possible, such as Swiffer, dusters, or a hand vacuum.

-Stay ahead of big cleanings by doing small things as able. This includes using antibacterial wipes in the kitchen daily, pick up 1 item each time you leave a room and replace it where needed, and handle items only once instead of sorting multiple times. You may see more tips like this at Unclutterer.

-Take advantage of mechanical advantage. Don't scrub the floor, use a Swiffer wet instead. Don't repot plants on your hands and knees, try working sitting or standing at a table (you can keep the mess down by placing some plastic bags or an old shower curtain down first)

-Load and unload your dishwasher while seated. Don't try to lift multiple plates or bowls at once. Consider switching to lightweight plates if you're able.

-Store your dishes at the point of first use. Some examples of this would be storing glasses by the refrigerator, colanders by the sink, and pots and pans by the stove. 

-Use smaller trash bags if it is difficult to lift a heavy bag. 

-If shopping for new appliances, avoid top loading devices and instead look for front loading washers and dryers. These may need to be elevated to prevent excessive bending. If it is very difficult for you to rotate the laundry, there are machines that both wash and dry. There are also drawer dishwashers that pull out and are easier to load/unload, though they hold less than a standard model.

-If you have to wash dishes by hand (UGH! my least favorite chore) then try: having a stool to sit on or a prop for your foot to change positions; using an upside down dish drainer to elevate the bottom of the sink (to prevent leaning over); and allowing dishes to drip dry instead of towel drying.

-Clean your trashcan using a hose instead of trying to reach inside and to the bottom.

-If you have clothes or other items that need to hang dry, keep items at waist level to minimize bending, and try not to hang higher than eye level to prevent excessive reaching. 

-Use a wrinkle releaser if possible instead of using the iron. 

-I feel that it's easier to hang clothes than fold them, so I hang up most of my clothes in the closet. Adding a second bar underneath half of the closet adds available space, using a wardrobe may also assist in finding extra space.

-Pay or barter for what is too difficult for you to do. This might include mowing the grass or scrubbing the tub. 

-Give up doing things that you don't value or care about. For me, this is folding t-shirts and sweats that are only worn around the house. So I created 'the play clothes bin' and clothes for workouts and bumming around just get nicely tossed and confined within the bin. 

Are there chore-related energy saving tips that you use? Feel free to share in the comments.


Advocate Or Be Replaced

This is an article from the American College of Sports Medicine on fitness trends expected to be sought after in 2013. The stated purpose is to assist their readership (Athletic Trainers, exercise physiologists, personal trainers, "fitness specialists" etc) in continuing profitable business. Here are the top 20 trends that they identified.

This list provides some things to think about. Here are a few that sprung to my mind.

#1: Educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals: sounds like a no-brainer, right? No one wants to think that the person helping them in their fitness quest just walked out of a high school weightlifting class and is now using that as their entire knowledge base. But with a personal quest for certifications and increased legitimacy comes a professional quest for licensure in attempt to get a greater piece of the monetary pie. 

#8 Functional fitness: some of this is the Crossfit movement, and some is also code words for "daily activities." We OTs feel very protective of ADL however it is a phrase that is increasingly being inserted into practice acts for physical therapy or athletic training. 

#11 Worksite health promotion: There are great OTs who work in industrial settings, though this is still more of a niche or emerging practice area. One piece of wording that you may need to watch for is the term "industrial athletes" which may be applied to military or first responders (firefighters, police, EMT). This may affect whether those individuals would be referred to an OT work-hardening program or an athletic trainer.

#19 Reaching new markets: This makes sense for a business. There's only so much you can do with your current market, and to increase your business, you must bring in some new consumers. Outreach to new markets may include consumers who were not previously service users before, or it may include individuals who were using OT and try to replace that service with something else. There's only so much "insurance money pie" and everybody wants their slice. 

Pay attention to who is trying to get licensed in your state, and how they're defining their scope of practice. Does it properly encapsulate their training? Is it going to try to restrict your practice? You might be surprised.  I'll admit that I come across as paranoid and defensive, but it's much easier to start from that position and work toward a mutually beneficial middle ground than to assume that every other profession is out to play nice and that we should be nice too. Remember what AOTA President Florence Clark said: It's not playing nice- it's playing dead!

If something is happening in your state and you need assistance, contact the AOTA state affairs group. The staff is excellent at analyzing legislative issues and can help you in responding appropriately. Just one more reason you should be an AOTA member. Also, please consider donating to AOTPAC, they are the only people fighting for OT on a national level.


Educational Resources for OTs working with Infants & Toddlers

I really like working in Early Intervention. Depending on how the state sets up the organization, an EI worker may find themselves pretty isolated with limited training opportunities for improvement. And if you're self-employed, you can't be dropping hundreds of dollars on continuing education classes that may or may not be beneficial. Here are some free online resources that can help the transition, as well as some other books that I have found helpful. (as always, I have no financial relationship with any service unless directly mentioned)

Zero to Three is the national page for infants and toddlers. They have podcasts in English and Spanish, policy based webinars, and free parent resources and guides. They also offer a professional journal ($78/year) with options to pay for CEUs and a yearly national conference.

Pathways.org provides a number of great visual and written resources for families and professionals. They have handouts on a/typical developmental comparisons and the importance of tummy time, among others. They have a free course and videos online to help professionals identify atypical development.

Virginia's early intervention system offers free archived webinars, online modules, and additional resources on their website. Check out their professional development center, and their informative blog articles. They even invite submissions from other authors, so this may be a way for you to expand your writing repertoire. This is one of the best state sites that I have found, but checking other states' pages may turn up many useful resources.

This Prenatal Drug Exposure Handbook(pdf) from a Michigan school district has been very helpful for me when discussing with parents what the potential sequelae of exposure are at different ages and start them with a list of practical tips for the child as an infant, toddler, and older child.

Feeding issues are so prevalent in the infant and toddler ages. One of the best sites that I have found is Your Kids Table, written by an OT with great sensory and behavioral strategies to try to broaden a child's diet.

Early Intervention Support offers many resources, mainly for parents on typical development and frequent issues with the 0-3 population.

Beyond Basic Play is a blog by a PT with great info on development as well as "tips and tricks" to facilitate certain developmental tasks such as catching a ball or moving between positions. Great basic tips to incorporate into practice.

Aimee's Babies is a site that I was not familiar with before. She is an OT who has re-initiated her blog and also sells DVDs and apps for parents to help their child's development. I haven't tried these out personally but they appear to have good face validity.

Info Spot for the Special Tot is run by an OT and mom and has lots of good information and resources on typical toddler issues.

The best book that I have bought has been Transdisciplinary Play-Based Intervention. I feel like this is a great resource for how to address the full scope of skills for infants and toddlers and gave a lot of good ideas on how to adapt activities. Some of this was information I knew or could reason out from school, but learning about ways to embed communication, emotional, and cognitive development was really valuable.

I'm really hoping that my upcoming course will be excellent. It was hard to spend the money knowing that I can count the course for state and national requirements but not for the EI service, but I know I need to get moving on some CEUs before the baby comes. I am really excited about it and excited to have an educational day at all. I am sad to miss my NBCOT and AOTA peeps and the great educational offerings that I usually get there. I truly am an OT Geek and like to learn new things. Please share any resources you have for working with infants and toddlers in the comments section- especially if they are free!


#10minTues - what I've been reading

When I was going through old entries trying to find the "greatest hits" I stumbled across this long entry of all the things I was reading. At the time, I had 2 hours on the subway to read, a huge library to access, and a teaching hospital's resources for journal articles. I was reading A LOT. Not so much anymore, but here are some of the best items from my RSS feed lately as well as other things I've been reading.

Your Therapy Source: Reflective Questions for Motor Learning - great straightforward questions to ask kids to get them thinking about their motor performance. A good application of contemporary motor control theory for the pediatric population.

Delivering and Receiving Healthcare:Having a Disability vs Being a Woman - this is a post by a medical student who uses a wheelchair discussing how he gets more respect than his female colleagues. An interesting take on male privilege. I enjoy reading about this man's journey through medical school challenges.

EmpowerAbility: Hotel Accessibility and Personal Journey with Universal Design - Deb Young is an awesome OT and I loved getting the chance to meet her last year at AOTA. She does a great job showcasing the importance of true universal design and how even when people are following "standards" that they are quite variable in how useful they actually are.

PT Think Tank: Transformation Scrutinization Vision vs Reality - Yes, I lurk on the PT Think Tank. They have an interesting viewpoint on allied health topics and it's good to see the PT POV on some issues. For instance, the PTs have their own Vision and existential questions about the name and role of their profession. OTs have this "navel gazing" of our issues and it was surprising to see that there are similar issues in PT.

Open Up and Let Go: Confessions and Conversational Speech and Words on the Blackboard - Deb is a mother of a child with autism and her perspective is one that I really value. She reflects on how you cannot spend 100% of your life as a "therapy mom" and the great feelings you get when a child achieves a goal.

Thinking Person's Guide to Autism: Costs of Fearing Autism and Labels, Light and Love - TPGA is a group blog, and I would love to see more OT versions of this. The contributors provide great views on autism-related issues. The first post discusses the public health crisis we're facing because parents are so afraid of autism that they refuse to vaccinate their children, and how that affects vulnerable populations. The second is a mother's 18 year journey with her son and how they have had balanced the hard times and the good. A very sweet story.

ABC Therapeutics: A Response to Hinojosa's "The Evidence Based Paradox" - Chris is so on top of life. Runs a business, reads research articles, and gives detailed thoughtful commentary regarding such on his blog. This post provides a look at why we can't use excuses about not having an Evidence Based Practice or continue to use approaches that aren't borne out in the research. very insightful.

Days of Our OT Lives: Surviving Childhood Without Social Skills - True Fact, I love Karen. It's not fair that she has a twin sister already because I think she should be my OT sister. I really enjoyed her sincere and personal take on growing up and can identify with some of those struggles. I remember being a smart kid who couldn't really understand WHY people did the things they did. WHY people didn't follow the rules exactly and want them enforced on others. Confusing indeed. But I am always thankful when people share the experiences that shaped them personally.

Dinner a Love Story: How to Blog My Rules - I'm frequently interested in the meta-analyses that demonstrate other writers' or therapists' principles. Jenny runs a successful blog and book empire and her tips about blogging may be very useful to others. Her rules on quality posts instead of a large quantity and not avoiding writing just because someone else is better rung true for me.

There's a lot of great OT blogs and those that I consider related either as service users or related services, and I hope you will consider following some of them. Using an RSS reader like Google Reader or Atom can make this very simple so you don't actually have to check these sites frequently. (I just linked to the basic "how-to" but the real key to reader efficiency is to add the "subscribe" link on your browser toolbar, then you can access any feed as you browse along) I've also had some actual book-books that I've been reading, listed below.

I'm continuing in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, and recently started book 9 (which is actually 10 with the prequel). 7&8 were a little slow, but this is a great fantasy series. If you liked Lord of the Rings, you'll appreciate the depth and delight in this world.

I borrowed Bringing Up Bebe from the library at the recommendation of a service coordinator in the early intervention system. It has some interesting takes on French parenting versus the "typical" American parenting. I just started this, but one thing I want to investigate further is the information on sleep and eating cycles. The author references French children sleeping through the night at 2 months and by 4 months eating just 4x/day all during the day. Obviously the feedings must be larger than what we typically give when feeding 6-8x/day. Given the info I just got from the lactation consultant last week, I want to investigate further on whether this type of schedule could be reasonable given an infant's stomach size.

I also borrowed a book on sleep for an EI client- The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep. Haven't started this one yet. And I'm intermittently reading (in very short spurts) Paul Rieser's Babyhood, which has been funny thus far.

Obviously there's a bit of a baby focus in my current reading but I don't think that should be surprising to anyone. I have a course on Infant Development coming up that I hope will be excellent and I anticipate reviewing those materials as well. This wound up being WAY over 10 minutes, but hopefully has some interesting items for you!