If you’re a Miss Jaime, O.T. VIP, you may remember when I mentioned my EXTREMELY EMBARRASSING MOMENT involving visual perception…
I can’t believe I’m doing this… but, I’m ready to tell it.
MY MORTIFYING NEW GRAD MOMENT
(I’m blushing already. Uggghhh!)
But first, you need the background:
I went to school to be an OT because I wanted to work with stroke and traumatic brain injury patients. I was sure I’d spend my career working in a hospital setting.
So sure that I didn’t do pediatric fieldwork like the rest of my friends.
AND… I spent way more of my time focused on learning the neurological “tracks” of the spinal cord than I did on doing my pediatrics work. (Someone—please go back and time and kick me!)
Working with adults was my future. I actually had it in my head that “I just needed a C” in my pediatrics class. Why spend my time on that curriculum? Neuro cases were my passion!
MY MORTIFYING OT MOMENT
Fast forward a few years: I’m a new grad and there are NO hospital jobs in Long Island (home). AND… I have to admit, that although I loved every second of my hospital fieldwork in St. Charles Hospital working with stroke patients, I couldn’t help noticing that all the female therapists who were short and small (like me) had massive back issues. Uh-oh.
A close family friend of mine convinced me that working in schools would be awesome. “The schedule is great, you have summers off, etc.” I wasn’t convinced but I wanted a job. I got the first school-based job that I interviewed for.
Even though this was a different path than the one I’d planned, I was excited.
MY FIRST SCHOOL-BASED OT JOB
My student’s IEPs arrived in a big pile. I slowly went through the students, their goals, their histories… It was overwhelming. I totally regretted not paying attention to the pediatrics class.
I was about two months into my first job as a new grad working as a school-based OT. It was going OK. I was reading my textbook A LOT. (This was way before social media). My yellow Case-Smith textbook was my new bible.
I run into the family friend, a school-based speech and language pathologist, at a holiday party.
“Are you glad you got into the schools? How’s it going?” she asked.
We started “talking chalk” and I mentioned a few of my students’ goals, trying to sound knowledgeable and smart.
WHAT IS VISUAL PERCEPTION?
“So what exactly is Visual Perception, anyway?” she says, casually reaching for some chips.
“Um, uh, well, you see, it’s um”… duh. I had nothing. I knew what visual perception was… basically. But all the terminology and big words were bouncing around in my head like Forest Gump’s ping-pong ball. It didn’t help that I was overwhelmed with stress and finally “out” for a little fun. I was caught off-guard.
HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN VISUAL PERCEPTION?
I couldn’t think of how to explain it to a kindergartener, much less a speech and language pathologist. For the first time in my life, I was speechless. Finally, I said flatly, “I don’t know.” She looked at me blankly and smiled, nodding. She changed the subject.
My face was as red as my Christmas sweater. How mortifying! Now Cathy thinks I’m a total dumb-dumb who doesn’t even know how to treat her students!
Ughhh. I was SOOOOO embarrassed. It took me YEARS to stop feeling ashamed and humiliated in front of her.
WHY IS VISUAL PERCEPTION SO CONFUSING?
The truth was, the topic of visual perception was really tough for me to grasp, for a few reasons:
1) Textbooks and evaluations use many of the visual perceptual terms interchangeably. How was I supposed to keep them straight?
2) I had just started working in the schools, so I hadn’t had many chances to see how visual perception actually impacts a child’s ability to learn.
3) I was a total jerk who ignored my peds classwork (except for the bare minimum) because I was SURE that I would be a rehab therapist.
I was embarrassed to be “caught” unable to talk about my profession. How can I spread the value of OT if I’m speechless?
Needless to say, I worked my butt off to make sure I WAS treating my students effectively. I learned a TON about visual perception, and I’m still learning more as a senior therapist.
I still couldn’t help wishing that I had some more resources and information about Visual Perception.
Do you feel the same way?
Is visual perception a topic that you struggle to explain and understand?
Visual Perception in the Classroom, Explained!
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MORE SCHOOL-BASED OT RESOURCES:
Glad I wasn’t the only one!! I had a similar experience. “What is _______ [fill in the blank]?”. I started in schools after 15 years in neuro rehab. But, it’s not as user friendly as you may think translating to peds.
Great post! Authentic!