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Occupational therapists as producers of culture OR Celebrating disability

October 10, 2012

I have been thinking about this blog’s title – enabling occupational therapy. I’ve had lots of time to think because I have been sick in bed with a nasty cold. Here’s to hoping that tomorrow I will be getting better – not getting worse.

I chose the blog title – enabling occupational therapy – because I wanted my work as an occupational therapist to enable (not unintentionally oppress) the people with whom I work. I wanted my work to contribute to clients’ well-being and to their participation in occupations that they valued.

I find it kind of funny that I only just noticed the coincidence that the title of an important book published by my professional association has a similar name. The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (www.caot.ca) has published a book called Enabling Occupation II: Advancing an Occupational Therapy Vision of Health, Well-Being and Justice through Occupation. I have not read the book but I have read many of the documents which are part of the foundation for this book. This coincidence is probably not really a coincidence. I am a product of my culture – the culture of Canadian occupational therapy.

I would also like to be a producer of my culture. I would like to influence Canadian (and international) occupational therapy so that our focus is on inclusion of disabled people and celebration of the many “normal faces” of human beings.

I no longer want to support people to “fix” the deficits related to their diagnosis. Instead I want to brainstorm and problem solve ways for children and families to take part fully in activities of their choice. I find this way easier to say than to do. What have you done to shift your ways of doing things?

I think I want to celebrate disability. I want to say that disabled people aren’t just like everyone else – just with an impairment. I think I want to say that the impairment doesn’t define them but is a part of them. A part to celebrate like their heritage or their gifts. Sometimes disabled people are just like everyone else but with impairments but really who wants to be just like everyone else? Well sometimes we all do. But at other times we want to celebrate who we are. All aspects of ourselves including our impairments. How can occupational therapists be producers of a culture that celebrates ALL people?

Sheila

 

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