For half my life, I have worked with special needs children. From the time I entered higher education, my focus has been on serving their unique needs. Through a distinct set of experiences, I have come to find my feet solidly on the path of Occupational Therapy, comfortable with the realization that I am exactly where I need to be.
When I was fifteen, I was a babysitter for an 18-month-old boy diagnosed with cerebral palsy and autism. After this experience, I found that I could think of no greater realization of my humanity than to care for and educate to empower the special needs children in our community. I focused my academic and professional interests on my work as a behavior specialist in a development center and an associate in a mental hospital. I have done a lot of respite work and cultivated specialties in pediatric and geriatric massage. My work has always been with special needs children, be it through the ____ Institute, ____ Hospital, or as a respite care provider. Each child that I have cared for has increased my appreciation and ability as an OT professional working on behalf of the child and their family.
I was introduced to Occupational Therapy at the Jewish Community Center of Metro Detroit, where I spent two summers working as an inclusion counselor. My direct supervisor was also the supervisor of the special needs children in the program and quickly determined that I was perfect for the field of OT. Her support and encouragement were among the reasons why I studied Psychology as an undergraduate in preparation for this application to your distinguished OTM program at ____ University.
I had been working with a young boy with a traumatic brain injury, Matthew, for two years as a respite therapist, when I was invited by his mother to join them in the Bahamas for an intensive one-week craniosacral treatment, in which Matthew would receive an hour of therapy a day in the water with dolphins. It was here, standing in the water, holding Matthew’s arm while the dolphin swam nearby that he turned to me, slowly placed his hand on my cheek, looked into my eyes, smiled, and said my name for the first time; the world stood still, and I caught a glimpse of eternity. Not only was I there for Matthew, but I was also able to encourage and help his mother through her journey.
One of the therapists participating in the program in the Bahamas was an enormously talented OT who I quizzed mercilessly about her experiences, the use of bodywork and massage, and her passion for OT. Occupational Therapy has everything I was looking for, the chance to make a profound difference using the knowledge and skills I have acquired over the years. The graduate OT program will prepare me for research work, and I look forward to focusing on occupational deprivation, massage, and bodywork for children with special needs, international work with refugee populations, and special needs children in socio-economically depressed inner-city communities.
Earning my Master’s in OT will enable me to bring my goals and dreams to fruition. Building my exposure in the field through working in a school system or locally with children with special needs, I will be not only providing a service to the community but also increasing OT awareness. Using my position in the community, I can then address agencies that serve specific underserved and marginalized populations. This body of experiences will enable me to then work internationally with dispossessed populations, increasing awareness worldwide of the importance and relevance of OT.
I bring with me to the student body and graduate OT program a solid academic foundation in Psychology and Massage Therapy/Bodywork/Pediatric Massage along with numerous volunteer and professional experiences, as well as research-based work through the ____ Center. I bring my humility and cultural competency, earned through not just living as a Jew in the US, but as a minority, my orientation, and in-depth understanding of the ongoing divide between the information haves and have-nots, particularly between white and Black America. My participation in the ____ Community Scholars Program brought structure and further refinement to my existing grasp of civic participation through intercultural understanding.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
OT Occupational Therapy Master's Personal Statement