Autism Self, Parent Advocates and Occupational Therapy
The author, Bill Wong, is an occupational therapist and an autism self-advocate. A rare combination that brings opportunities in both autism and occupational therapy communities.
Gregory Ruel, Portland, Maine
Bill Wong has Asperberger’s, is an occupational therapist, and an autism self-advocate. A combination that brings a perspective in both autism and occupational therapy communities. Gregory Ruel, ME
In this digital age, most individuals with different diagnoses and their caregivers will not only look for basic information about their diagnoses and the types of treatments available, but they also might read posts about others’ experiences in order to better understand about what they are in for. After all, a common goal in these instances is for the individuals with these diagnoses to achieve the best prognosis possible and as quickly as possible (if applicable).
In autism, it is no different. Posts made by autistic individuals and their caregivers on the Internet are just as important as the quality of interventions occupational therapy practitioners provide to autistic individuals. These posts can create pre-conceived notions of how occupational therapy or other allied health professions are perceived.
The question is- how can we as members of the occupational therapy community combat that? Yes, we need to practice our “elevator speeches” when we explain to people who don’t know our field. However, we also need to take steps then explain what we do to explain the broadness of occupational therapy or remind other stakeholders that we are just explaining what occupational therapy can do in the particular setting at hand and that what they see are just a small piece of what occupational therapy is all about.
A good example is through organizing occupational therapy global day of service (OTGDS) activities. OTGDS is a day where members of the occupational therapy community will voluntarily serve the communities they live in and promote occupational therapy. Another good way for occupational therapy practitioners in academia to make connections with autism self-advocates. After all, these autism self-advocates may not only be great guest lecturers to students through talking about their lived experiences, but also possibly great members of autism research teams in providing what occupational therapy autism research should focus on.
Autism self and parent advocates can be great allies or enemies to the occupational therapy profession. We as members in the occupational therapy community each have a responsibility to be in tune whenever these advocates make major statements about occupational therapy on the Internet.- Bill Wong, clinical doctorate degree in OT from University of Southern California
Gregory Ruel, Portland, Maine
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