Monday, August 20, 2012

Survey Says!

Jamie loves talking to people but because of a cognitive dysfunction, she sometimes lacks social grace when doing so.   To help counteract this disconnect, Jill, her occupational therapist, has Jamie periodically conduct surveys.  These surveys place Jamie into social interactions with people so she may practice her social skills in a fun way. 

In today's session, Jamie will conduct a survey of the folks in the Green Therapy Pavilion (CORF). Together,  Jill and Jamie select a survey question that Jamie can ask people who participate in her survey.  The question is simple, usually asking about a favorite dessert, candy bar or holiday.  Today’s question: “What’s your favorite movie?”

Jamie struggles with social appropriateness.  She injects statements completely unrelated to the conversation at hand.  For example, in addition to one of her popular sayings of “I’m tired,” Jamie will say several times during the session, “I’m getting old.”  The first time I heard her say this, I chuckled and thought to myself, Girl, I’m forty-something, you don’t know what old is!  Regardless of how many times Jill and/or I would say twenty-three was hardly old, Jamie continued to restate this statement at odd points within the conversation.

Once the decision was made to survey what people’s favorite movie is, Jill gives Jamie a piece of paper to write down the question.  Jamie graduated from high school so she reads and writes fairly well, though she struggles sometimes with spelling.  Jill then revisits with Jamie about how to conduct the survey, an activity they’ve done several times in past sessions.  Jamie outlines the survey steps but evidently to Jill’s dissatisfaction.  Jill patiently reviews the entire sequence of the survey process with Jamie.  In doing so, I begin to understand how important it is to spell things out because of her challenge with follow-through and attention to details.
  1. Approach someone and say “Excuse me.”
  2. Introduce who you are.
  3. Tell them you are conducting a survey; ask if they would like to participate.
  4. Upon their agreement, ask the survey question.
  5. Upon receiving an answer, write it down on the survey paper.
  6. Thank them for their participation before moving on to someone else.
Simple enough but Jamie misses or forgets a couple of steps in this process of surveying people.  She forgets to say “Excuse me” but launches into “Hi, I’m Jamie.”  Sometimes, she goes right to the announcement of “I’m doing a survey” without introducing herself.  Jill coaches her along the way, especially as she begins to start somewhere in the middle of the survey process.  Surprisingly, Jamie isn’t as talkative with those she surveyed, but then, she is busy recording people’s answers, asking for help with the spelling of a word on occasion.

Today’s observation would be the last I’d spend with Jamie.  I enjoyed getting to know Jamie whose passion for animals, especially horses, I also share.  I admire her whimsical carefree demeanor; she takes nothing in life too seriously, which I often slip into doing. 

I’m grateful to both Jamie and Jill for allowing me the opportunity to better understand the therapeutic practice of occupational therapy, and of course, I’m immensely appreciative to ALL of the therapists in the Green Therapy Pavilion for putting up with my hundreds of questions, invading their therapy space, and allowing me to travel if only briefly along their journey as they fulfill the Wendell Foster’s Campus mission of empowering people with developmental disabilities to realize their dreams and potential.

In the Next Blog Entry: And now, the REST of Nicholas' Story - Little did any of us expect a rallying effort . . . . least of all led by Nicholas!  What happened . . . . made our sweating in the hot setting sun worth every minute!

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