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Why I Chose Occupational Therapy

Whenever I start with my fieldwork students I always ask them what their "OT story" is. Anyone who is an OT usually has one. OT isn't something that is very known and understood, so usually an OT became one because they experienced it somehow for themselves. So, here is my OT story:

Growing up, I witnessed my little brother slowly but surely have more and more difficulty at home and in public settings. It got to the point where it became very difficult for us to eat at a restaurant or go grocery shopping. At home he was having more and more melt downs, and at daycare I was often called into his room as I would be the only one to be able to calm him. My parents sought out evaluations and that is when he was diagnosed with Aspergers (at the time). After this diagnosis he started to receive OT services.

There were a few times I attended and stayed in the waiting area while he had his sessions. I remember sitting across from an adorable, happy, little boy with prosthetic arms and legs playing in the waiting area, and I remember peaking in at my brother's session and seeing him swing and crash in a room that looked like it was full of fun things to do. It was that which really sparked my interest. What the heck is this job where you get to play with kids all day?!

Over time, my brother slowly but surely was able to go to restaurants again, and his aggressive behaviors at home were very minimal. OT changed our families day to day and completely changed the quality of all of our lives.

I didn't revisit the thought of Occupational Therapy again until my Sophomore year in high school when we had to do a career project. We were directed to find colleges with the programs we were interested in, create a dream job from real sources we found online. I felt pretty overwhelmed, I thought I wanted to do something in the medical field, but I also loved psychology and in my heart I knew I needed to work with children one way or another. That is when I discovered Occupational Therapy all over again. After that project, my heart was set on OT. I was one of the lucky ones who knew exactly what I wanted to do, what programs I wanted to apply for when the time came, and the goals I had for the future.

What is really wild for me to think about, is this generic answer I used to give everyone who asked me what I want to do when I grow up. Even as a 17 year old my answer was always, "One day I'd like to open a daycare where children can get OT while they are there." What is even crazier is that I thought that this wouldn't happen for me until I was about 10 years into OT. But, then it happened and here I am, here we are. On the really tough days when I find myself questioning if this business is too much to handle, or if we are making enough of an impact, I remember that I am literally living that 17 year old girl's dream. Not many people get to take something they are passionate about and do it everyday for work. I am so grateful for this profession, for my story, and my brother who I miss dearly, who showed me OT.


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