Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The importance of CPD in a Multidisciplinary Team.

We've all heard the saying: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." - and I couldn't agree more.

The focus for this blog post is on the importance of CPD and training within in the workplace. The school where I work is really focused on both of these and I'm reaping the benefits from it.
Last week, when the therapy team were at work but our students were on their Easter holidays, the team decided to use some of the time we would have spend in sessions to work on developing our CPD folders and improving our practice. The therapy team where I work consists of the following: 2 OTs, 2 SALTs, 1 Nurse, 1 Clinical Psychologist and 2 Assistant Psychologists.

Each member of the team presented a specific aspect of the work there are involved in or on the area which they specialise in. Over a week presentations were given on subjects such as Attachment theories, to the Tactile system and sensory defensiveness, to pictorial communication aids all the way to an introduction to Forensic OT (which if you can't already guess from previous posts was mine!)

It was so interesting to learn together about the different areas which were taught. The consensus from each of the team members was that it was a roaring success. Being able to sit down together as a team and learn about different ways of working with the students we have was a real inspiration and helped us to think of how we could incorporate other disciplines methods of working into our own to make our interventions better.

Another benefit to it was to see how we could work as a team better by incorporating all of our skills more effectively. The importance of working together for a shared goal and integrating our methods of working and expertise to best work with our students.

I think it would be fair to say that each member of the team spent the week buzzing from the excitement of learning new information and skills which we could put into practice the following week when the students returned. It has really expanded my knowledge and I feel has helped us as a team to understand each others occupations better and to pull on each others knowledge a bit more. Being in a central office together means that we can clinically discuss our students progress and brainstorm ideas with each other in a really effective way.

We already have plans for the school holiday where we are going to use the time to start a journal club where each individual brings a profession specific article or piece of research relating to our area of work.

I would really encourage you all to perhaps do something similar, to start a journal club or similar - it really does make a difference to your practice!

Do you already do something similar or have a different approach to CPD? I'd love to know so please leave a comment below :).

Happy OTuesday,

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Social Stories and Autism.

I am now two weeks into my new job as a Paediatric OT and I am absolutely loving it. I am blessed to be working with a really knowledgeable and friendly therapy team who have made me so welcome.
It’s been really interesting getting to know some of the children I will be working with as well as attending some really fascinating training sessions. I’m really excited about how I am going to be able to develop as an OT in this field.

One of the most interesting areas I have started learning more about is Sensory integration. Sensory integration which, in simple terms, is how a person’s brain is able to register the information provided by their senses within the body and from the external environment. It’s an absolutely captivating area of work which I am keen to get started working in. I’m hoping to dedicate some blog posts to some of the different areas of SI so keep your eyes pealed!

For today however I have decided to talk a little bit about Social Stories. I had never encountered these before and have soon come to realise how fundamental and effective they are when working with people with Autism and ASD.

In 1991 Social stories were created by an ASD teacher named Carol Gray to help teach social skills to people with Autism. Social Stories are short descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what the individual can expect in that situation and why.
The stories are often written simplistically with either symbols or photographs above each word in the sentence. They allow individuals to learn about the different levels of communication within a conversation or situation. Individuals with Autism find social situation difficult and struggle with developing and appropriate social skills, this includes understanding others feelings, reasons why certain things happen – abstract ideas etc.

The different levels of communication which Social Stories help explain include the following:
·         The things which were actually said in a situation.
·         How others in the situation felt.
·         What will happen in a certain situation and why.
·         What people’s intentions may be.

At work we use Social Stories for a variety of reasons, some of which I have listed below:
·         To help a student cope with changes to their routine whether this is an absence of a teacher, a change to an activity or moving to a different living group.
·         To help a student to understand how others might behave or respond in a particular situation, and therefore how they might be expected to behave
·         As a behavioural strategy, for example what to do when angry or upset.
·         To help the student develop with self-care skills (eg. Importance of washing their hands, getting dressed etc.) 
Why are Social Stories effective for people with Autism?
·         Many people with autism are good at visual learning, and like social stories because they're written down. Social stories are also often created using symbols and photographs as well as simple words so they are accessible for individuals whether they are verbal or non-verbal.
·         Social stories present information in a literal, 'concrete' way, which may improve a person's understanding of a previously difficult or ambiguous situation or activity.
·         Social stories can help with sequencing (what comes next in a series of activities) and 'executive functioning' (planning and organising) - difficulties experienced by many people with autism.
·         By providing information about what might happen in a particular situation and some guidelines for behaviour, you can increase structure in a person's life and thereby reduce anxiety.

There are some really good examples of Social Stories on the website link below:

It would be interesting to know if anyone uses or has any experience of using social stories. Please comment in the box below this post if you do!

Thank you for taking the time to read my latest post,
Kate :)

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

New beginnings.

It's been a few months since my last blog post back in December and a LOT has changed.

Today was the start of a new chapter in my OT career. After leaving my job in a Medium Secure unit I started a new job as a Paediatric OT!
Leaving the world of Forensics for a completely different area of practice was a decision which took a lot of consideration, and although I still have a great interest and passion for Forensics, the chance of developing my skills and gaining experience in my new job is an incredibly exciting prospect.

My new post is set in a mixed-gender residential school for students aged 7-19. The pupils have a diagnosis of complex needs, learning difficulties associated with autism and challenging behaviour.

I'm looking forward to learning about a completely new area of practice and seeing how I can adapt and develop new ways of working as an OT.

Stay tuned for updates on how my journey develops.

Happy OTuesday,