In light of the new year, which is often full of fresh starts and resolutions to make changes for the better, I'd like to share some inspiration I received at the AOTA Autism West Conference in December.
During the expert panel discussion, Dr. Winnie Dunn challenged all practitioners to change just one thing in their current practice of OT. She broke it down further by encouraging us to make just one change with one client. Dr. Dunn was confident that if we made one change with one client, it would soon transfer to other clients, and would then just become the way we practice occupational therapy. If each occupational therapist changed just one thing, it would have a rippling effect throughout the profession of occupational therapy, not to mention in the lives of the clients we serve.
I took Dr. Dunn's challenge to heart. For my "one thing", I decided that during the evaluation process, I would like to ALWAYS ask parents what they see as their child's strengths. I can hear you now, "what do you mean, you're not already doing that?" My former OT professors are probably saying "didn't we teach you ANYTHING, Abby?"
I'm willing to admit that I'm not perfect (here on the web for all to see), and in the rush to adequately assess a child's abilities, discuss all of the parent concerns (which is often a list about a mile long), and explain the evaluation process to parents, I sometimes forget to clearly and directly ask parents what they see as their child's strengths. I now make it a point to do so, and most parents respond quickly and easily, but some parents act surprised and stumble a little, as though they've never been asked the question before. This has definitely been a positive change that really only takes about a minute and gives me a much better picture of the children and families I am serving.
To start off 2012, I challenge all occupational therapists out there to change just one thing, with just one client.
What is your one thing you plan to change?