Monday, June 29, 2009

Introduction

I decided to begin a blog because any number of people who have read my book, Tree Barking: A Memoir, have asked whether I will be continuing writing about my work. To sit down and write intensively about my work would require that I quit working, a luxury I cannot afford, so I shall keep people updated through blogs. Of course I cannot promise how often I will post them, but hopefully I will do so quite frequently. I invite comments, questions, and so forth, and hopefully this will become interactive.

When I wrote the book I worked mostly with an adult population. After the Home Health Agency was closed I began working in Early Intervention. I work with a population of infants and toddlers from 0 - 3 years of age. They are refered for any number of reasons; deemed at risk due to different syndromes, genetic and environmental factors, prenatal drug exposure, low birth weight, and premature birth, being just some of them.

Often I am the first person who comes to their home (after they have been evaluated by Regional Center). The mere fact that I have entered a stranger's home means that something is 'wrong' with their child. This is an extremely delicate situation for the parents and family members. I usually visit once a week for an hour, during which time I evaluate the child and monitor his development, including gross and fine motor skills, cognitive development, self help, language and social-emotional skill levels. As an Occupational Therapist I draw upon a large variety of modalities and treatments, and instruct the mothers, mostly, in handling techniques, appropriate exercises, feeding methods, and so on, in order that the child can progress and develop.

Any home visitor should understand the background and culture of the families, or at least, try to, so as not to impose our ideas upon the family. Learning happens best in an atmosphere of trust and respect. When I worked for Contra Costa County we had the help of a Medical Social Worker who would also visit and provide assistance when needed. I am no longer with the County and in my present position we do not have a Social Worker, so of course our position becomes all encompassing. There are severe psychological, financial, and personal stressors on the family, and we become witness to their situations, sounding boards, advisors, supports, and whipping posts. The work is both extremely rewarding and very trying, and hopefully I will be describing it.

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