Last week, I had the privilege of attending the 2016 American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) annual conference in Chicago for three days with over 10,000 enthusiastic occupational therapy professionals. After three days of non-stop learning, connecting, and living off of hotel coffee, my brain was filled to the brim with all sorts of new facts, evidence, and practical tips to take back home with me.
Though I couldn’t possibly cram every last thing I learned from AOTA conference into one blog post, I wanted to share with you some of the tidbits, factoids, and quotes that I thought you might appreciate most. At first I tried to make this a Top 10 post, but I quickly realized I had way more than 10 pieces of information to share, so…enjoy!
FIRST, SOME INTERESTING FACTS
Learn more about the work that Lighthouse Guild International does for children with blindness and vision impairments.
And yet research is showing that there are neurological differences between children with autism and children with sensory processing disorder…and new studies on the neurological basis for sensory processing challenges continue.
Yes, for adolescents, social capital has an impact on not just happiness or popularity, but on HEALTH. It’s that important.
Infants with blindness or visual impairment have a more difficult time being motivated to move and explore their visual environment, thereby impacting the attainment of their early developmental milestones.
SOME NEW EVIDENCE
The occupational therapy and sensory integration research community has been working SO HARD for the past several years to develop fidelity measures to more strictly define what specifically occurs during sensory integration therapy (so that those who claim to do this type of therapy can be separated from those who are actually doing the real thing). This has then propelled the research process forward, allowing Ayres Sensory Integration to be more accurately studied for effectiveness. And now the evidence is in, and it’s looking good. As with most topics, more research will help better identify the benefits and areas for improvement. But this is HUGE.
The implication being that, for individuals with auditory defensiveness (over-responding to or being overly sensitive to auditory input), chewing gum may be a simple way to slightly decrease that defensiveness when faced with stressful auditory events (e.g., assemblies, recess, grocery store or mall, family gatherings, etc.). You can read the article in is entirety.
SOME BOLD CHALLENGES
If you have kids of your own, try this. You may be surprised at how little “intentional” playtime you spend with each of your kiddos (as opposed to directing them, disciplining them, feeding and changing them, etc.). At least I know I was. And if you’re a pediatric therapist, talk about this with your families. Developing play skills, relationships, and a growing sense of autonomy is a HUGE part of early childhood. Whether your child is in a phase of pretending, playing games, building forts, drawing, rough housing, or hosting tea parties, you can play an important role in this development by spending a little bit of time each day following and engaging with your child’s interests.
Definitely. Learn more about what Jan Hollenbeck does at http://otpartnership.com.
Let’s keep this in mind the next time someone asks you if you think the reason a student is always getting in trouble at school is due to “sensory” or “behavior”.
SOME SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS
Create quality content for your audience. Find good content to share with your audience. And interact with your audience. I was honored to be invited by AOTA’s Digital Editor, Stephanie Yamkovenko, to help lead a Q&A part of this session with her for therapists who are new to (or who want to be a part of) the world of blogging.
Set some goals, then set some boundaries!
Being smart about what topics you address, when you share on social media, and when/how often you engage with your audience will make it better for everyone.
AND SOME INSPIRING WORDS OF WISDOM
As discussed in the session, if you go back through all of Jean Ayres’ works, this idea is ALL OVER nearly everything she wrote. Somehow such a profound statement, based on a concept that we’ve known for decades.
Anyone who has worked with children as an occupational therapist knows this is so true!
And, yes, we even encounter it in the schools. Working with children (and, really, working with people) means you will encounter and address mental health issues, whether or not you are specifically working in a “mental health” setting.
I couldn’t agree more. Here is how I became drawn to the field of occupational therapy, and realized it was my calling in life.
And this is what occupational therapists are so good at — we DO in order to make change! Words to remember from our newest AOTA President, Amy Lamb.
Did you attend AOTA 2016? What other quotes, moments, sessions, or interactions impacted you the most? Let us know in the comments section below!