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    Occupational Therapist

    Hi all,

    I am 17 and have been trying to figure out what I want to do after I am done high school. I am extremely interested in becoming an Occupational Therapist. Here is the thing, though, I have Cerebral Palsy and it affects my vision (no depth preception/ eyes work seprate from each other) and I have a little bit of difficulty with fine motor tasks although it is nothing drastic. The only thing I seem to really not be able to do is tie my shoes. I also can not walk. I have a passion for Occupational Therapy and want to give back to other people what Occupational Therapy has given me but, I don't want my limitations to get in the way of providing my clients the care they deserve. My Occupational Therapist says I should go for it and that he thinks I shoudln't let my limitations stop me but, I can see myself having trouble doing standing/walking, preceptual testing, and lifting with patients (although I could probably use a power chair/transfer belt to help a patient i.e drive with one hand and hold the patient with the other and use an acutal lift for lifting) I just noticed when I was looking at Occupational Therapy school applications, one of the things they base acceptance on is physical fitness for the profession and they specify a spot for you to (voluntarily) disclose whether you have a disability and if you are registered with Disability Services at the school, they will accomadate you as best they can and they encourage students with disabilities to apply. I would hate to think I take a job I can't stand for fear of failing at being an Occupational Therapist because it is truely where my heart is as far as careers go.

    Any input would be appreciated.

    WG

    #2
    I think its a great idea, who better to teach than someone who has first hand experience living with a disability?

    Comment


      #3
      If you have a passion for OT, then I think you should definitely go for it - especially since you have the endorsement of your OT, who is in a position to know what will be required of you. Passion for a field of endeavor tends to spur a person to discover new and imaginative ways of doing things, and you could create a very fulfilling and beautiful place for yourself and your clients within the OT profession (in a way similar, perhaps, to the one Matt Sanford discovered as a yoga instructor teaching people across the entire spectrum of ability).

      Personally, I would rather have an OT who knows what it's like to live and thrive with physical challenges, than an "able bodied" therapist who has no first-hand experience with what is involved (on every level). And your heart is in this - love of your work and the people you work with will carry you far!
      MS with cervical and thoracic cord lesions

      Comment


        #4
        Certainly manual dexterity might be a problem .. but I haven't seen an OT in 25yrs so what do I know?

        I so wanted to be a PT when I was young but my mother put the kibosh on that telling me I wouldn't be able to (they were so supportive - NOT!)

        What about social work? You would still have involvement with clients in a team setting that deals with OT and PT and medical personnel? I only suggest it because that's what I wanted to do when I was your age.

        Keep in mind that you'll change your mind six times before you finally settle on a career ... only speaking from experience.
        Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

        T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12

        Comment


          #5
          t8burst: Thank you and isn't that the truth!

          Bonnette: Thank you and like I said about t8burst's post, I think that having an OT in a wheelchair would be awesome! I agree with you about how having the support of my OT makes the choice easier, to a certain degree. He told me he knows a few OTs in chairs and they usual have jobs where no lifting is required. However, I sort of feel like he (bless his heart) dosen't want to discourage me from doing what I truely want so, maybe he's sugar coating things. At the same token, he has been very up front and honest with me because he feels like it is the best thing for me (I don't always like it, but he's right) so I think if he thought I really wouldn't be able to do it, he would let me know now so I could have another plan in place and so I could know before I go through all the pre-degree stuff and what not. Ok, now I've confused myself!

          Lynnifer: I have seriously considered SW as a backup if OT is REALLY not going to work; that or becoming a Speech Therapist because I see that being fully possible. I guess the fact of the matter (or not, because this is my heart talking) is I want to know that I have tried to be an OT before I decide to try something else because I want to be one that badly if that makes sense.

          Comment


            #6
            I have no doubt that whatever you choose, you will excel at it!

            Ahhh 17 ... I'm so jealous!!! The very best years of my life are just around the corner for you!!!
            Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

            T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by wheeliegirl2010 View Post
              I agree with you about how having the support of my OT makes the choice easier, to a certain degree. He told me he knows a few OTs in chairs and they usual have jobs where no lifting is required. However, I sort of feel like he (bless his heart) dosen't want to discourage me from doing what I truely want so, maybe he's sugar coating things. At the same token, he has been very up front and honest with me because he feels like it is the best thing for me (I don't always like it, but he's right) so I think if he thought I really wouldn't be able to do it, he would let me know now so I could have another plan in place and so I could know before I go through all the pre-degree stuff and what not.
              So many times, clients have specific needs that only someone with your experience and understanding can address - it seems to me that the right hospital or outpatient facility would be blessed to have an OT with your first-hand knowledge, intelligence and compassion. The tasks you are not comfortable with (lifting and so on) can be managed in other ways. I could envision you carving a niche in which you act partly as a counselor, and partly as an OT - there is a need for people who have the capacity to help clients to function well on emotional as well as physical levels, and wouldn't it be great if you found or created a position where you could combine those gifts under the OT umbrella!

              Definitely, you'll never know until you try, and if you don't go for something you feel this strongly about, you might regret it down the road. As Lynnifer suggests, social work might be a good fit for you, as well, and you could seek affiliation with a facility that needs the skills of someone who can bridge the roles of social worker and OT.

              Your OT might well be thinking along similar lines - he sees your abilities, drive and enthusiasm and knows that you have the capacity to do something really extraordinary. In your shoes, I think I'd sit down with him and really probe the issues that concern you, encouraging him to be as frank and forthright as he can - ask him to explain his reasoning more fully, so that you can feel more confident about his support. He might be a good practical mentor for you.

              As Lynnifer says, at 17 a whole world of possibilities exists. You are so fortunate to have a sense of the direction your heart wants to go, and if you honor those inner promptings as you investigate professional roles, you'll do beautifully.
              MS with cervical and thoracic cord lesions

              Comment


                #8
                See and that's it; I know quite afew people who regret not doing what they really wanted and I don't want to be one of those people.

                Comment


                  #9
                  That's what I said too ... when I was accepted to the University of Ottawa I was 18yrs old (it was 8hrs away). They had a great social work program but I didn't get in because of the only course I had failed in my life: Finite Math! I still hate math ...

                  But my parents refused to help me move or finance this is any way. I had only $2000 saved up ... so I ended up moving in with a friend an hour away (bet they hadn't planned on that!) My other three siblings had their post-secondary educations paid for. My father never thought I'd amount to anything and I assume he didn't want to make the investment. My mother was too sick to argue. So I left.

                  I had to take minimum wage jobs until I could move up and afford to take night school classes and get a better job, etc. Thank goodness I had a friend who's home I was welcome to.

                  Sometimes life doesn't work out how we want it to ... I suspect I would have made a great social worker.

                  I've learned that if you really want something, it takes an entire family and lots of friends to support you ... and continue supporting you. That's what I was missing.

                  I hope you achieve your dreams.
                  Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

                  T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by lynnifer View Post
                    That's what I said too ... when I was accepted to the University of Ottawa I was 18yrs old (it was 8hrs away). They had a great social work program but I didn't get in because of the only course I had failed in my life: Finite Math! I still hate math ...

                    But my parents refused to help me move or finance this is any way. I had only $2000 saved up ... so I ended up moving in with a friend an hour away (bet they hadn't planned on that!) My other three siblings had their post-secondary educations paid for. My father never thought I'd amount to anything and I assume he didn't want to make the investment. My mother was too sick to argue. So I left.

                    I had to take minimum wage jobs until I could move up and afford to take night school classes and get a better job, etc. Thank goodness I had a friend who's home I was welcome to.

                    Sometimes life doesn't work out how we want it to ... I suspect I would have made a great social worker.

                    I've learned that if you really want something, it takes an entire family and lots of friends to support you ... and continue supporting you. That's what I was missing.

                    I hope you achieve your dreams.
                    Lynnifer, I really appreciate you encouragement/advice and for the record you would have been a great social worker

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I'm married to an OTR/L & know the industry. Without too much detail, consider the fact that there are plenty of COTAs (OT assistants) and rehab techs. There's a good chance that you'd have help in whatever setting you might end up in, particularly if its clinical.

                      Go for it.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        My daughter is currently a sophomore in college, and is in the OT program. Nowhere on the applications she filled out was anything about physical ability. I would say go for it, it doesn't sound like what you describe would be a serious issue.

                        edited to add .... that should have read nowhere, not Now where .....
                        Last edited by sjean423; 14 Feb 2011, 8:47 PM.
                        T7-8 since Feb 2005

                        Comment


                          #13
                          My friend has spina bifida and is an occupational therapist. She went to school in PA. The program was 5 years and in that time she received her bachelors and her masters. The only thing she needs help with is transferring people...but that rarely occurs. I have other friends with SCI that are OTAs and one who is almost done with his masters. I say go for it!
                          "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot nothing's going to get better. It's not." - Dr. Seuss

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                            #14
                            Thanks all!

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I am so glad you have had encouraging messages as being an O.T myself and mum to a child with a T1 Sci-I say go for it!
                              I work in neuro rehab and i must say since my daughters injury feel like i now do a better job. i def have a better understanding of the problems and when all said and done OT is just common sense-problem solving-allowing people to be as independent as possible and who better than you!I have 2 brilliant Cotas that work with me and even with pregnancy and back pain they have taken on the handling tasks. If you are in a large enough dept it shouldnt be a problem. I feel as an Ot you will always find a niche to work in as it is so varied and some are employed in the legal field writing reports on how a disability(through medical negligence or accident) can affect function
                              and cost equipment needs etc.I could go on forever, feel free to pm me anytime, Goodluck. Sonia.

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