I was debating about where to put this entry, since it's arguable that I could put on either one that I am now writing. After some debate, I have decided to put it here... because I want to demonstrate to fellow OT students as well as professionals that there are many different ways we can do about advocacy and meeting the goals of our Centennial Vision.
On Wednesday afternoon, I was having lunch with Kelly Green from AutismHWY at a local restaurant near where I live. Considering I usually am a fast eater during school days and my family typically doesn't take long when we eat out, I figured two hours was more than enough to have a good lunch and conversation. Little did we know, the two hours went by like lightening and we still have a lot of things that could be left for another discussion.
During the lunch, we talked about various things- from my presentation proposal for my state OT association conference in the fall, to a little introduction to Naturally Autistic ANCA (an organization Kelly is closely working closely with), to the things I see as an "insider" in the OT profession. As the conversation was going along, I was thinking, "Autism is such a big part in AOTA's Centennial Vision. But, it will be great if passionate OT students and practitioners get to meet autism advocates (whether they are caregivers and consumers) that are equally passionate in advocating for the rights of consumers with autism. This will be one great way to move the OT profession forward while gaining an important group of allies in the profession's advocacy efforts in the process." (Of course, same can be said about other physical and mental disabilities as well.)
Right after that, as Kelly started to mention about what she went through with her son with regressive autism, Wyatt. As she went on, I was trying to understand from both the OT and Aspie perspectives. I can tell you... it was not an easy experience. It's not because I don't like to hear it. But, it's because the "OT me" was fighting against the "Aspie me". The "Aspie me" was like a prosecutor because I think the quality of OT Wyatt was having sounded like bad OT. The "OT me", on the other hand, was like a defense attorney because I was trying to find ways to justify these OT interventions.
But, fortunately we agreed on one thing- my purpose in OT. Whether I made it to be an OTR/L or not, I know I have something that a lot of consumers with autism won't have... which is an understanding of how OT works from the inside. This is so vital because that's where people like me could help in consumers and caregivers about how OT works on consumers with autism. Basically, I have heard rants from OT's and parents with a good bit of these rants are actually towards the other. Moreover, because I am a consumer, I am having a hard time in choosing which side to believe. If anything, picking a line here is at least a thousand times more difficult than when I was trying to "stay neutral" towards all potential candidates in this year's Assembly of Student Delegates election. On one hand, I got to be loyal to the profession that gives me a second chance. Moreover, even though I am an Aspie, I am really grateful that my NT counterparts in the OT community (that means a lot of you) have accepted me for who I am... as it's important considering that there might just be a handful of OTR/L's and COTA's combined that are on the autism spectrum, if ever. On the other hand, I still remembered the bitter feeling of being someone who fell through the cracks as if it happened yesterday, like a good bit of adult Aspies I have come to know. So, I couldn't ignore the anger and outrage from consumers and caregivers in the autism community.
So, towards the end of the lunch, I had given Kelly some names where she could start making contacts- from Dr. Clark, to Shawn Phipps (my state OT association's president), to my school based OT teacher, to Amy Laurent (a notable OT researcher in autism). It's going to be interesting to see how these conversations developed. Who knows? Maybe there would be a big revolution in the works in how the OT profession will deal with consumers with autism... and I know I am a big part of it because I am an Aspie who has developed a sophisticated understanding in how OT works.
Now... switching gears a bit, I want to let fellow OTS's and OTAS's out there even we can contribute more than just paying our membership fees or participate in leadership as ways in where we can help AOTA reach its centennial vision. What I did is showing you guys that you can find some worthy causes and speak to people there about OT. Sometimes you might know a thing or two about OT, but by informing these people with what you know could sometimes make a huge difference. Who knows? Maybe you can be a catalyst of some revolution in OT practice... and your name will be in OT history forever.