Posted by: otstoryteller | December 21, 2014


Habit is an area of focus within occupational therapy. It forms a subset of the Model of Human Occupation and is found within other models of practice, as well as our Occupational Therapy Practice Framework. Kielhofner wrote about habits in 1982; and in 2011 there was a blogpost on habits by , in which she cited an AJOT article that addressed habits (from 2005). Historically, occupational therapists’ intervention early in the 1900s was referred to as Habit Training. Yet apparently, there is little current published attention to habit (at least according to a quick Google search). Is this becoming one more of “our” domains that is being commandeered by others? Or, has occupational therapy merely adopted a public domain as one of its own?

‘Internet Evidence’ from a variety of popular sources has it that habit formation takes approximately 21-30 days. Some claim this duration to develop a new habit (with another 30 days to reinforce it). But this is disputed. James Clear, a blogger I recently stumbled across, has a small book and a blogpost on this topic that makes sense. I appreciate his work/searching in this area. I am just disappointed that he is not an occupational therapist sharing this with the world.

My seeking information on habits was reinforced recently by prompts a question about what is required to break/change an existing habit. According to Clear, it involves a system that will replace the old habit – that one cannot just break a habit – it leaves a vacuum.  This makes total sense, especially to an OT. The task becomes finding the right replacement.

If there are any budding pre-PhD/OTD readers stopping by, it might be beneficial to investigate this area as a potential focus of research.

Posted by: otstoryteller | December 7, 2014

Rules for Being Human (source unknown)

Many years ago I encountered a small set of Rules for Being Human (and if you know the true source, please let me know – it does come up on multiple web pages (with variations) and is available as a poster) which I will list below.  I keep a small framed copy of them in my office. Over the years I have shared these with students when they feel overwhelmed by OT school.

What brought the Rules to mind just now is how the last two rules are ever-present in my life, whether being human (me) or being an educator: I am forever in the throws of #10 – I forget a lot; at least in my surface awareness. I suspect my memory is impaired by stress and overload (what adult memory isn’t?) – and #11 does occasionally come to my rescue, especially when attending faculty development workshops or talking with colleagues. There are many moments when I remember that I know how to set up relevant educational experiences, I just sometimes get too lost in the day to day stuff of life to actually do the prep work (or leave enough time to do that prep work well). So, instead of beating myself up over it, it is good to re-read the Rules, and remember that I am not alone. I will state that #4 can be a real annoyance; especially when the feedback is limited. But I do believe attitude is incredibly important and keeping a positive one helps a great deal.

The Rules For Being Human

  1. You will receive a body.

You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period of this time around.

  1. You will learn lessons.

You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called Life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.

  1. There are no mistakes, only lessons.

Growth is a process of trial and error: Experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works.”

  1. A lesson is repeated until learned.

A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.

  1. Learning lessons does not end.

There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

  1. “There” is no better than “here.”

When your “there” has become a “here,” you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here.”

  1. Others are merely mirrors of you.

You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.

  1. What you make of your life is up to you.

You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.

  1. Your answers lie inside you.

The answers to Life’s questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust.

  1. You will forget all this.
  2. You can remember it whenever you want.
Posted by: otstoryteller | November 22, 2014

Will technology change re-invention of ideas?

I attended a conference on Children’s Mental Health with a session on Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The speaker mentioned a learning strategy that he used that has since been adopted by others under a different name…which got me to wondering. I have been confused for years by the question of why multiple approaches (especially in Early Intervention) that appear to have the same elements, are all called by different names. (A partial answer seems to be territoriality – each method has its own guru/name). So the current question is: could differences between methods become more coordinated by way of the Internet?

The speaker used an example from architecture: that they had to incorporate the principles of universal design or get dismissed. Will this happen in education? The difference between architecture and education at this time is that the ADA for building design was a Federal Law; even though we have Federal Law for education, there is no federal law for UDL. UDL is definitely an area that is ripe for OT, and while there are OTs who are using it and writing about it, there could so easily be more of them.

Posted by: otstoryteller | October 31, 2014

Boost yourself, boost the profession

I am passionate about TED Talks – for saying what I agree with clearly; for opening my mind to ideas I never considered; for the variety of learning it offers.  This is one of my current favorites:  

Posted by: otstoryteller | October 29, 2014

Soapbox issue: Politic$

A report on NPR this afternoon quoted the astronomical amount of money being spent (particularly by private groups) on the current election in the USA. Couldn’t that money be put to much better use for the public good than bombarding people with advertisements? I realize the issue is who will get to choose how money is spent over the next 2-6 years, yet Congress does not appear to be making any headway in the actual governance of this country. The reduction in funding of public education and the pitiful amounts we pay our public education teachers is leading this country further down a path of decline in intellectual abilities within our citizenry and ultimately this will harm the country as a whole. Else, our fate will be left more securely in the hands of the wealthy few who go into government leadership positions for their own agendas and never leave office because their only objectives are to attain and then maintain their positions in power.

History might warn that the kinds of economic discrepancies currently found in this country would prompt revolution. Yet, the advent of television and the destruction of actual intellectual educational opportunities have undermined our ability to think, act, and protect ourselves from the political lifers.

I do not have a lot of background in history nor government, but I believe that Congress is long overdue for an overhaul of how it does business – hasn’t technology progressed far enough to allow bills to stand on their own without a lot of amendments disrupting a simple process? Why is it so unfeasible to enact term limits for what was originally a public service profession? Is it at all possible at this point in time to bring government back to be representative of the people?

Where did these thoughts come from, you may well ask. From my anger / disappointment in the current educational system that has produced (at least a moderate percentage of those representatives that I have encountered) graduate students who do not read textbooks, who start out poorly skilled in critical thinking, and who are so overburdened financially that they cannot devote themselves full time to studying.  Much of this comes from an inadequate primary/secondary school systems, compounded by the inequity of personal finance in our society. These are broad public policy issues that need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Posted by: otstoryteller | October 20, 2014

Public Relations Success

Congratulations, Ashley Wood, OTR with Kickstart, on her work with intervening early with children/adolescents with schizophrenia being featured on NPR this morning!  (Granted, more research is needed – but this is a promising approach.)

If you missed it, here is the link.

This is the type of coverage we need.  Also anyone with ideas for how to get OT onto TV shows, plays…come on, OTs are creative!

Posted by: otstoryteller | October 19, 2014

Flavored Coffee and other random ideas

I came to drinking coffee fairly late in life, and mainly as a way to channel sweetener and caffeine since I try not to drink soda/pop. Lately, I’ve been drinking Millstone brand because it is smooth, not bitter (especially not as bitter as I find Starbucks; so sad that Seattle was bought out), and fairly inexpensive (my criteria for coffee – yes, totally not a connoisseur). This morning I tried their Chocolate Velvet variety and it was delicious. Actually tasted like chocolate. Life’s small pleasures can be soothing.

There is a post on Facebook today about Depression and how no one is alone who experiences it, with a request to share it. I find that most requests such as that claim that most people will not and I find that annoying. Is it using reverse psychology in an attempt to shame people into posting? (Or am I mixing up my concepts?) It is definitely a message I would be willing to share if not for that comment within it. I hate being guilted into doing anything.

Knowing that attitude is of major importance does not always make it possible to keep a positive attitude. Thoughts and feelings just do not always communicate within our minds/hearts/limbic systems. Sad, but true.

Posted by: otstoryteller | October 16, 2014

Student’s Preparation for Graduate School

I was struck by part of the commentary in this blog post about using POGIL as an educational strategy:

“Since the authors’ objective was to measure the effectiveness of POGIL for learning chemistry rather than assessing literacy, they modified the exercises to eliminate reading. As educators, we should also ask how we can help students improve their literacy skills so that they are better prepared for any subject.”

Has our current educational system failed in the preparation of readers?

Personally, as a parent of sons with reading challenges, I definitely side on the answer “yes” to that question. I believe there are some school systems that may do a better job than others, but the “evidence-based methods” of teaching reading are not being used universally. Those methods needed to reach challenged readers are not being used in many states. [In moments of guilt, I question why I did not move my family to New Haven, CT where I believe there are experts on teaching reading.]

Professionally, as an educator in graduate programs, I have encountered students who did not read their homework assignments [some who did not even purchase their books]. I had passed this off as deliberate choice or time management issues, but had not given thought to the idea of a literacy challenge. It had been my assumption that once someone got into graduate school they must have been able to read…never make assumptions…

I have not looked yet, but would be interested in investigating whether anyone has examined the degree of literacy in our programs, the actual amount of reading our students manage, and the rationale for why they many not be reading the required materials. If this is appreciably a literacy issue, how do we make a change? Realizing there are multiple levels of response to this question: policy, moving research into practice, finances…my question is meant to address the practical, functional changes we might make to address the issue.  Are there methods we could/should implement once these students enter our programs, or is there a “critical period” of reading education that is missed and we must just accommodate/modify our teaching strategies to reduce that burden? [I cringe to call reading a burden.]

If you have knowledge in this area, please share.

Posted by: otstoryteller | October 7, 2014

Reinventing OT – Atul Gawande

I truly appreciate the writings of Atul Gawande – I admire how and what he thinks. With the publication of his latest book, Being Mortal (making the rounds of reviews and FB) I do believe he is discovering (reinventing) occupational therapy.

The approach he advocates (encouraging providers to allow people to pursue what is meaningful in their lives)  is what OT’s have been doing for decades – it is a reason for being. Except we are not mentioned (at least in reviews).

In this time when we are being encouraged to take more initiative in primary health care, here is another area (hospice, end of life – though actually throughout the lifespan) where we do have practitioner models and lots of room for expansion. We need more public relations work.  Also, more fieldwork placements, so we can produce more therapists!!

Posted by: otstoryteller | October 7, 2014

Educational Preparation (A Soapbox topic)

Just “attended” an F.A. Davis Company webinar on “Teaching Basic Study Skills: Yes, They Should Know It But They Don’t” that re-confirmed what I have encountered for years as a graduate educator: many/some of our students do not have the basic study skills we expect them to have. For years I have bemoaned the limited reading that seems to happening (ever check the bookstore for how many required textbooks are left on the shelf?  and, no, I don’t believe everyone is simply going for the books online because it is more cost-effective…I have had students tell me they do not own these textbooks). I find this moderately distressing amongst our students; but one college-wide workshop on a related topic years ago, when a faculty member from the Medical College also complained about the lack of reading among his students I became alarmed – I do not want to be treated by a physician who has so limited a knowledge base!

But I am getting side-tracked.  The main point of this soapbox is that (some of) our students manage to arrive with few functional study skills (and critical thinking abilities) and it is my belief (Quasi-Reflective Thinking Stage 5?) that this deficiency is beginning in elementary school. Almost from the beginning our schools are placing emphasis on academics in such a structured, test-driven manner that thinking and independent study skills are not addressed. Memories are not being developed. Creativity is being stifled. [refer back to post on Ted Talk: Sir Kenneth Robinson related to this idea]

I know there are schools and individuals/communities trying to change this, but it needs more attention and effort.

If you have evidence, either confirming or refuting this belief, please post.

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