Faculty Achievements: Grants and Publications Summer/Fall 2018

Patricia Gentile

  • James, M.K., Robitsek, J.R., Syed, M.S., Gentile, P.A., Ramos, M., Perez, F. (2018). Clinical and non-clinical factors that predict discharge disposition after a fall. Injury 49(5) pp. 975-982. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2018.02.014

Anita Perr

  • NYU Dental School Clinic Redesign to Improve Access and Services for Children and Adults with Disabilities.

Tsu-Hsin Howe

  • Book chapter published: Howe, T.-H. (2018). Oromotor Therapy. In J. Ongkasuwan & E. C. Chiou (Eds), Pediatric Dysphagia: Challenges and Controversies. New York, NY: Springer.     

Yael Goverover

  • Chiaravalloti, N. D., Goverover, Y., Costa, S. L., & DeLuca, J. (Accepted 7/30/2018). A Pilot Study Examining Speed of Processing Training (SPT) to Improve Processing Speed in persons with Multiple Sclerosis. Frontiers in Neurology (Manuscript ID: 389748).  
  • Stern, B., & Goverover, Y. (First Published June 3, 2018). An occupational perspective of everyday technology use for men with multiple sclerosis. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1177/0308022618777985
  • Akbar, N., Sandroff, B., Wylie, G., Strober, L.B., Smith, A., Goverover, Y., Motl, R.W., DeLuca, J., & Genova, H. Progressive resistance exercise training and changes in resting-state functional connectivity of the caudate in persons with multiple sclerosis and severe fatigue: A proof-of-concept study. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation. (Accepted Feb 28, 2018, in press). doi: 10.1080/09602011.2018.1449758. PMID: 29618280
  • Stern, B. Z., Strober, L., DeLuca, J., & Goverover, Y. (2018). Subjective well-being differs with age in multiple sclerosis: A brief report. Rehabilitation Psychology, 63(3), 474-478. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rep0000220 PMID: 30113202
  • Goverover, Y., & DeLuca, J. (2018). Assessing everyday life functional activity using actual reality in persons with MS. Rehabilitation Psychology. 63(2), 276-285. doi: 10.1037/rep0000212. PubMed PMID: 29878832.
  • Goverover, Y., Sandroff, B., & DeLuca, J. (2018). Dual-task of fine motor skill and problem-solving in   individuals with multiple sclerosis: A pilot study.  Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 99(4):635-640. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2017.10.012. PMID: 29108966
  • Goverover Y., Chiaravalloti, N., O’Brien, A., & DeLuca, J. (2018). Evidenced based cognitive rehabilitation for persons with multiple sclerosis: An updated review of the literature from 2007-2016. Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 99(2), 390-407. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2017.07.021. PMID:28958607
  • Costa, S. L., DeLuca, J., Sandroff, B. M., Goverover, Y., & Chiaravalloti, N. D. (2018). The role of demographic and clinical factors in cognitive functioning of persons with relapsing-remitting and progressive multiple sclerosis. Journal of International Neuropsychology Society, 24(2), 139-146. doi: 10.1017/S1355617717000777. PMID: 28830576
  • Kalina, J., Hinojosa, J., Strober, L., Bacon, J., Donnelly, S., & Goverover, Y. (2018). A randomized controlled trial to improve self-efficacy in persons with Multiple Sclerosis: The Community Reintegration for Socially Isolated Patients (CRISP) program. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 72, 7205205030p1-

Janet Njelesani

  • Njelesani J., Siegel, J., & Ullrich, E.  (2018). Realization of the rights of persons with disabilities in Rwanda. PLOS One, 13(5), e0196347. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0196347
  • Njelesani J., & Njelesani, D. (2018). Addressing HIV/AIDS in school in Zambia through traditional games. AIDS Care, 1-3. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2018.1476660
  • Njelesani J., Hashemi, G., Cameron, C., Cameron, D., Richard, D., & Parnes, P. (2018). From the day they are born: A qualitative study exploring violence against children with disabilities in West Africa. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 153. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-5057-x
  • Dean L., Mulamba, C.,  Njelesani J., Mbabazi, P. & Bates I. (2018). Establishing an international laboratory network for neglected tropical diseases: Understanding existing capacity in five WHO regions. F1000Research, 7, 1464. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.16196.1
  • Co-Applicant: Advancing inclusion of children with disabilities in the UAE. NYU Abu Dhabi Institute. $15,000.
  • Principal Investigator: Generating and preventing violence: Schools’ responses to school violence against students with disabilities in Zambia.National Academy of Education (NAEd)/ Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship. $70,000.

Kristie Patten Koenig

  • Patten Koenig, K. (in press). A strength based frame of reference for autistic individuals. In P. Kramer, J. Hinojosa & T. Howe (Eds.). Frames of reference for pediatric occupational therapy (4th edition).
  • Patten Koenig, K. & Shore, S. (2018). Self-determination and a shift to a strengths based model. In R. Watling & S. Spitzer (Eds.), Autism: A    Comprehensive Occupational Therapy Approach, 4th edition, Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press.
Ongoing Awards:
  • Co-Principal Investigator: “IDEAS: Inventing, Designing and Engineering on the Autism Spectrum”. (Principal Investigator Wendy Martin, PhD). National Science Foundation (NSF#1614436). Funded for 9/16 to 8/19. $300,734 subaward of $1,193,170 total award.
  • Principal Investigator: “NYU ASD Nest Support Project.” NYC Department of Education.  7/1/18-6/30/19. $1,600,000
New Awards:
  • Principal Investigator: “ASD Nest supports, consultation, and professional development.” Norwalk Public School District. 3/1/18 – 6/30/19. $120,059
  • Principal Investigator: “Ghanaian Institute for the Future of Teaching and Education (GIFTED) Women’s Fellowship Program- Phase III”. (Co-Investigator Rose Vukovic, Ph.D.). Banco Santander.  Funded for 1/19 to 12/21. $418,000

Class Notes Summer/Fall 2018

Patricia West (MA, 2000) is currently living in Southern California. She obtained her specialty certification from AOTA in feeding, eating, and swallowing about 2 years ago, with focus on the pediatric population.

Valerie Grinman (MS, 2017) has been working at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital since March 2017, primarily in acute stroke rehab. She recently became a Certified Brain Injury Specialist and is also part of a hospital-wide interdisciplinary team called the Safety Coach Program, helping to prevent workplace injuries in patients and staff.

Diane Dirette (MA ’93, PhD ’97) and Sharon Gutman (PhD ’98) are the new co-editors of the 8th edition of Occupational Therapy for Physical Dysfunction formally edited by Catherine Trombly and Mary Radomski. The new edition is scheduled to be published in 2020.

Michelle Rosenberg (MS, 2013) recently opened up a private practice in Ontario, Canada called “OT for Wellness”. She helps educate fellow occupational therapy practitioners in holistic approaches to practice, including comprehensive Yoga Instructor Certification Courses for OTs. She can be reached at MLR5085@gmail.com.

Marlene Handler, MS, OTR/L (MS, 2016) currently works in a D75 high school called the Brooklyn Transition Center, where the curriculum is designed with a focus toward basic vocational training in areas such as cooking, printing, and gardening, as well as community service. Marlene loves to integrate mindfulness and wellness strategies into her personal practice with her students to help them navigate everyday stressors.

Rick Frank (MA, 1988) has been doing OT for over 10 years part time in an outpatient rehab clinic, as part of a chronic pain management program. As part of that, he is excited to be doing some therapy sessions in a warm water pool, as well as teaching an aquatic yoga class. For the past two years he has been organizing and teaching an adaptive yoga class for people with disabilities.

Kelly Scanlon (MS, 2016) is currently a hand therapist who moved from NYC to Chicago in Jan 2018. She now works at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (Ranked 4th in US Orthopaedics). Kelly and her hand therapy colleagues will be hosting a CUE opportunity along side top ranked hand surgeons in the Nov 2018 Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush Elbow to Hand Symposium: Hand to Elbow Fractures, a Case-Based Approach to Problem Solving A 1-½ day course reviewing anatomy, surgical interventions, and treatment for fractures of the elbow, wrist, and hand.

Robbie Levy (MA, 1982) is excited to share that her business Dynamic Kids, where she is Founder and Executive Director, is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary working with the children and their families in Westchester County. NY. In addition, Robbie was presented with Westchester Magazine’s 2018 Small Business Award in a ceremony at the Crowne Plaza in White Plains on September 13, 2018.

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What’s the Most Important Part About Being an OT? OTD Student Shanteria Carr Shares Her Answer

Meet Shanteria Carr, one of our Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) students who has chosen to study in one of our newest technology-enhanced learning programs. Read on to learn about Shanteria’s path to becoming an Occupational Therapist, and what made her choose NYU Steinhardt to further her education.

What is your background and what made you decide you become an OT?

I currently reside in Washington, DC where I work as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist for the District of Columbia Public Schools. In undergrad at the University of Florida, I took a course called “Introduction to Health Professions”, where weekly, a different health professional gave a lecture to the class. It was through this course that I learned about the field of occupational therapy and the benefits the profession can provide individuals.

I began volunteering with a certified hand therapist at Shands Healthcare in Gainesville, FL. I was originally a psychology major in undergrad, however that quickly changed after a semester of volunteering with the occupational therapist. I was captivated by the interventions that were used to rehabilitate individuals to help them engage in activities after injuries. What I loved about the field was the various settings I could potentially work in, and also that I could work with individuals across the lifespan.

Although I had decided to no longer major in psychology, I was intrigued by the role psychology played within the field of occupational therapy when providing intervention to individuals. The experience from volunteering lead me to pursue a rewarding career in occupational therapy that I am forever grateful for.

What made you interested in the online OTD program at NYU Steinhardt?

I was interested in NYU Steinhardt’s online OTD program because of the flexibility the program offers. I have the ability to complete assignments around my work schedule and also select specialization courses based on my clinical areas of interest of in pediatrics and leadership. Being able to select courses based around my interests was important to me because it will allow me to further develop my skills as a clinical.

An additional advantage for me was the live classes offered through the program. I was excited about the opportunity to engage with professors and other doctoral candidates in real time because I did not want my learning to be limited through only online discussion posts or reading material.

What do you think is the most important thing OT’s do, or the most important aspect of the profession? 

As occupational therapists, our most important role is being able to collaborate with clients and their families to gather information about our clients psychological, emotional well-being and physical needs and developed intervention plans to help our clients engage in meaningful activities. Through participation in meaningful activities our clients are able to improve their quality of life and live satisfying lives. Helping clients participate in meaningful activities after they experience an injury, illness or disability is the core and the most important aspect of our profession.

NYU OT at the International Congress of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists

The 17th International Congress of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) took place May 21-25, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. The theme of this year’s Congress was “Connected in diversity: positioned for impact.”  The Congress’ program showcased the passion for occupational therapy that is shared around the world.

New York University was fortunate to be one of six OT programs from the United States to have an exhibition booth at the Congress.  The response to the OT booth was great!  Prospective post-professional students had the opportunity to speak with faculty and staff about the online and on-campus Post-Professional OT programs at NYU. We are also happy to report that a number of NYU and NYU affiliated individuals gave well received poster and oral presentations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presentation Oral Sessions

Mariana D’Amico (Alumni)

  • Perspectives and Recommendations: Occupational Therapy and Transgender Populations

 

Rita Fleming-Castaldy (Alumni)

  • An historical analysis of occupational therapy and social activism: From settlement houses to reductionism to disability rights and occupational justice. Subtitle: Lessons learned from the profession’s first century to inform our future, enable well-being, and influence social policy

 

Siaw Chui Chai (Alumni)

  • Basics of innovation in health sciences; An overview of a new multidisciplinary course

 

Szu-Wei Chen (PhD Student)

  • Reconsidering the importance of leisure occupation in OT practice: Leisure should be an end goal of intervention

 

Kristie Patten Koenig (Chair/Faculty) and Stephen Shore (Adjunct Faculty)

  • Reframing Autism: Authentic Partnerships with Autistic Self Advocates to Guide Research, Teaching and Service Delivery

 

Chang Dae Lee

  • A Study on Validity and Reliability of Upper Extremity Performance Test for Elderly (TEMPA)

 

Anita Perr (Faculty)

  • The ConnectAbility Challenge: Design Challenge for Digital Tech

 

Presentations Poster Sessions

Rita Fleming-Castaldy (Alumni)

  • Connected in Justice: Harnessing Local Resources to Confront Social and Occupational Injustice, Empower Marginalized People, and Enable Health and Well-being Subtitle: Afya: An International Occupational Therapy Case Study in Making a Global Impact

 

Siaw Chui Chai (Alumni)

  • Grip Strength, Pinch Strength, and Manual Dexterity among Older Adults Living in Elderly Residential Care Facilities: Dominant Hand Vs Non-Dominant Hand

 

Grace Kim (Faculty)

  • An Innovative, Interdisciplinary, and Client-Centered Approach to Improve Clothing Accessibility for Individuals with Disabilities
  • Does Adherence to Instructions Affect Upper Extremity Motor Outcomes in Individuals with Stroke Using Robotics Training? 

 

Kristie Patten Koenig (Chair/Faculty) and Stephen Shore (Adjunct Faculty)

  • Reframing Autism: Authentic Partnerships with Autistic Self Advocates to Guide Research, Teaching and Service Delivery

 

Paula McCreedy (Alumni/ Former Faculty)

  • Using Storytelling in Occupational Therapy to Help Children Overcome Learning Differences and Regulatory Challenges

 

Janet Njelesani (Faculty)

  • Realization of the rights of persons with disabilities in Rwanda

 

Anita Perr (Faculty) and Kay Koch

  • Hands-on Mat Assessment and Documentation for Seating and Wheeled Mobility
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NYU OT at the 2018 AOTA Conference

NYU OT Students at AOTA Conference

This year NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy students, faculty, and staff headed to Salt Lake City Utah April 19-22 for the annual American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) annual conference.

The theme for last year’s conference focused on the History of OT during it’s 100 year celebration, and this year’s conference focused on the future of the OT profession. In support of this year’s theme, AOTA Vice President Shawn Phipps led a session entitled, “Vision 2025.” During this session participants learned ways the OT community can work together to position the profession for continued growth in the upcoming years.

Faculty at the NYU OT Booth

For the fourth year in a row, NYU Steinhardt OT had a booth in the Expo. Alumni and current students stopped by to say hello, reconnect with the department, and show their NYU OT pride by wearing our popular NYU OT Alumni, Supporter, and Students badges.

The booth also provided an opportunity for prospective students to learn more about the post-professional MA, OTD, and PhD programs, as well as the new online OTD program. Faculty members and staff were on hand to answer questions about the curriculum, admissions requirements, and our remuneration program.

NYU OT Students and Faculty Gathered at AOTA Conference

One of the highlights: Our very own Alison Rangel-Padilla (Fieldwork Coordinator) led a Salsa Dance Break! This well-attended and fun event had conference participants dropping their bags and moving their bodies to salsa, merengue, and samba music on the conference floor.


NYU Steinhardt OT Faculty, Staff, and Student Participation:

 

Kristie Patten Koenig, Associate Professor

-Short Course 122 – Senses & Sensibilities: Experiencing, Recognizing, and Providing Support for Sensory Issues from Autistic and Practitioner Viewpoint (With Stephen Shore Ed.D., Adelphi University)

Plenary: Autistic Individuals as Equal Partners in Occupational Therapy Research

 

Yael Goverover. Associate Professor

-Research 2009 – My Way of Staying Connected”?: The Lived Experience of Adults With Multiple Sclerosis as Everyday Technology Users

-Abstract Synopsis:This constructivist grounded theory study examined the lived experience of adults with multiple sclerosis as everyday technology users. Technology is experienced as a means of fostering reciprocal connections to self and others within a context of connection to the world.

Contributing Authors: Batsheva Becher; Ilana Goss; Stephanie Tufano; Yael Goverover, PhD, OTR/L

-Short Course 405 – Everyday technology for all? Limitations and opportunities in assessment and treatment for adults with neurological disorders. Rehabilitation, Disability, & Participation. With additional speakers Brocha Z. Stern, MOT, OTR/L, CHT, New York University; Joan Toglia, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Mercy College

Tsu-Hsin Howe:

-CY 3009 – Life Beyond School: Developing a Functional Life Skills Intervention To Promote School-to-Work Transition for Students With Developmental Disabilities with speakers Chia-Yang Chiang, M.A., OTR/L, New York City Department of Education

-Research 1027 – Effectiveness of Self-Determination Programs in Promoting Secondary Transition for Young Adults With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities with speaker Chia-Yang Chiang, M.A., OTR/L, New York City Department of Education

-Research 4012 – Parental Feeding Practice and Perceptions of Feeding Issues of Their Children With History of Prematurity in the First 2 Years of Life

 

Patricia Gentile:

-RDP 1001 – Occupational Therapy in the Perioperative Surgical Home, Part of Poster Session #1 Rehabilitation, Disability, & Participation

 

Tracy Chippendale:
-Research 3012 – Knowledge, Behavioral Practices, and Experiences of Outdoor Fallers: Considerations for Prevention Programs

 

Allison Rangel, Fieldwork Coordinator:

-Institute 025 – (AOTA) Becoming an Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, with additional speakers Jamie Geraci, MS, OTR/L, Stony Brook University; Jeanette Koski, OTD, OTR/L, AFWC, The University of Utah; Jaynee Meyer, OTD, OTR/L, University of Southern California

 

Students:

Sandra Duarte
-GP 8006 – Cultural Competence in Occupational Therapy: Putting Cultural Sensitivity To WorkWith additional speaker Brigitte Desport

Chia-Yang Chiang, M.A., OTR/L, New York City Department of Education
CY 3009 – Life Beyond School: Developing a Functional Life Skills Intervention To Promote School-to-Work Transition for Students With Developmental Disabilities with Tsu-Hsin Howe
-Research 1027 – Effectiveness of Self-Determination Programs in Promoting Secondary Transition for Young Adults With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities with Tsu-Hsin Howe

Margaret Waskiewicz:
-RDP 2006 – Back to Basics: Enhancing Our Practice Through a Return to Occupation
Part of Poster Session with Kellianne Arnella and Nandita Singh, MPH, OTR/L; and
Steve Vanlew
-RDP 7015 – Tying It All Together: Mindfulness-Based Interventions for People With Parkinson’s Disease

Brocha Stern

-Short Course 405 – Everyday technology for all? Limitations and opportunities in assessment and treatment for adults with neurological disorders with Yael Goverover; Joan Toglia
-Short Course 245 – (SIS) RDSIS Hand Subsection Annual Program – Health Promotion and Self-Management Support in Hand Therapy – Bridging Chronic and Acute Care with additonal speaker Brian Connors
-RDP 3001 – So You Want To Be a Hand Therapist? Strategies for Authentic Specialization
-Research 2009 – My Way of Staying Connected”?: The Lived Experience of Adults With Multiple Sclerosis as Everyday Technology Users with additional speakers Samantha Gelon and Kathryn Ross
-Short Course 412 – Update on Upper-Extremity Cumulative Trauma Disorders: Physiological, Psychosocial, and Ecological Perspectives

Chang Dae Lee
-Research 5002 – Korean Upper-Extremity Performance Test for the Elderly: Validity and Reliability
-Research 8003 – Korean Upper-Extremity Performance Test for the Elderly: Normative Data and Characteristics of Upper-Extremity Function of Adults and Elderly

Monica Puglisi, MS, OTR/L, New York City Department of Education
-CY 3001 – Common Core Writing Standards and Alignment With Typical Childhood Development in Elementary School: A Scoping Review with Kristie Koenig, additional Speaker

Diversity, Equity, and Human Rights: An Interview with Janet Njelesani on Educational Opportunity for Children with Disabilities in Zambia

Photo of Janet Njelesani

Janet Njelesani

Janet Njelesani, assistant professor of occupational therapy, researches how social, cultural, and institutional practices impact the education of children and youth with disabilities. Her work is influenced by her experience as an occupational therapist and disability inclusion technical advisor to international governments and United Nations agencies.

Njelesani received Steinhardt’s Global Research Incubator Award in 2017 to carry out a pilot project on school violence against children with disabilities in Lusaka, Zambia in which she is collaborating with the University of Zambia and Ministry of Education. She uses child-centered methodologies, including arts-based research methods,  to engage students with disabilities. Graduate students from both the University of Zambia and NYU Steinhardt are involved in this research process and are learning how to elicit children’s experience through qualitative methods, as well as learning how to build an international research partnership.

A child’s drawing is used to gain insight into her social experience at school.

You are studying violence against children with disabilities in Zambia.  What led you to your research?

Violence at school exists in every country, spanning across cultures, classes, education levels, abilities, incomes, and ethnic origins, and children with disabilities are at a significantly greater risk than their non-disabled peers. Although some one million children are living with disabilities in Zambia and the country is committed to education for all children, little is known about children with disabilities’ school experiences, including the violence that may be perpetuated against them. The experiences of these students are important to understand because violence in schools can not only cause physical harm and psychological distress, but also can affect a child’s ability to learn while in school.  Many students won’t remain in school long enough to reap the benefits of education as parents pull them out for safety reasons.

What are some of the risk factors that children with disabilities face?  

There is a complex interaction of child characteristics (e.g., type of impairment), societal biases (e.g., disability stigma), and other environmental factors (e.g., cultural beliefs and gender norms) that interact to cause greater violence against students with disabilities. Data from recent national school surveys indicated that the prevalence of non-disabled children being bullied by peers was 63% and virtually all (97%) have reported being physically punished by teachers over the past school year. Despite this high incidence of violence against non-disabled children, violence against children with disabilities is even higher in Zambia where there are greater stigmas associated with having a disability and less resources and services available for children with disabilities to succeed at school.

Photo of Janet Njelesani and members of the research team

Janet Njelesani (left) and members of the research team discuss how to adapt research tools to include students with all kinds of disabilities.

You come to your research as an occupational therapist.  How does this influence your point of view?

As an occupational therapy practitioner and scholar, I strive to carry out work that centers on illuminating issues of diversity, equity, and human rights for children and adults with disabilities living in low and middle-income countries. Being an occupational therapist has influenced how I carry out my research in regard to understanding that the participation and rights of persons with disabilities have traditionally been neglected in research and policy. Furthermore, client-centeredness, which assumes that clients are the experts in their lives, is core to the profession of occupational therapy, so I understand the need to partner and collaborate with persons with disabilities, their families, and representative organizations, in order to combine our complementary skills and knowledge to address the rights of persons with disabilities.

What do children reveal in their art work?

Arts-based methods are one of the many tools I use in my research because they can be adapted to meet the diverse needs of children, for example a child who has difficulty communicating may prefer to draw a picture, whereas a child with a vision impairment may prefer telling a story.
Children often reveal in their art what is most important to them, helping us to understand what supports are already in place in their school community and which we can build upon.  They also express their challenges. From an occupational therapy  perspective, this expression has therapeutic value as often they’ve never been given the opportunity to share these experiences before.

Photo of primary school in Lusaka, Zambia

This primary school in Lusaka, Zambia includes children with disabilities.

What interventions will help schools decrease violence against children?  

The Government of Zambia has committed to developing education policy and improving access to quality education for all Zambian children, including those with disabilities. As this study is being carried out in conjunction with researchers from the University of Zambia and policy makers in the Zambian Ministry of Education, findings can be used to inform policy and develop comprehensive and effective violence prevention that are inclusive of all children, including students with disabilities in Zambia.

Read more by Janet Njelesani:  From the day they are born: a qualitative study exploring violence against children with disabilities in West Africa

 

 

 

2018 Frieda J. Behlen Scholarship Winners

Photo of Francine Cacciola and Monika DworakowskiThe NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 Frieda J. Behlen Occupational Therapy Scholarships. This year’s awardees are Francine Cacciola and Monika Dworakowski.

Francine Cacciola graduated from NYU Steinhardt in 2016 with a degree in Applied Psychology, and has returned to complete her masters in Occupational Therapy. Francine has a background working with children with special needs, and though she one day hoped to open her own school—she now sees the importance of making her holistic approach to learning available to all students and aspires to work as a practicing OT in a public school setting. There she hopes to help cater to all learning styles, sensory needs, and foster empowerment, growth, and creativity with a focus on children’s strengths. She is also a certified yoga teacher! Francine will graduate in 2019.

Monika Dworakowski completed her B.A. at Boston College in Psychology and Hispanic Studies. Her research interests within the field of OT include neuroscience, geriatrics, and anatomy. Monika participated in a summer research project that was a scoping study about how women with disabilities are treated by their partners in Sierra Leone, as well as a current project relating to the effectiveness of cognitive stimulation therapy for those with mild to moderate dementia. She also worked for the GIFTED Women’s Fellowship Program in the summer of 2017. Monika is also a student ambassador, helping welcome new OT students as they begin their journey at NYU. Upon graduation, she hopes to work in a setting with a geriatric population, with a focus on patients with dementia. Monika will graduate in 2019.

The Frieda J. Behlen Occupational Therapy Scholarship is an endowed fund created principally by gifts from alumni of the occupational therapy programs at NYU. Income generated by the endowment is awarded annually to students who demonstrate superior academic achievement as well as financial need. With growth in the fund’s balance from new gifts, the amount given out has been able to increase and will continue to do so. The award takes the form of a tuition aid applied toward summer courses. Professional Program second-year students are eligible to apply.

The fund was named to honor the memory of Frieda J. Behlen, founder and longtime chair of NYU’s Department of Occupational Therapy. Ms. Behlen was known for never hesitating to find monies, even if from her own pocketbook, to enable deserving students to complete their studies.

To contribute to this and other Department of Occupational Therapy funds please visit http://www.nyu.edu/giving/.

2nd Annual Jim Hinojosa Distinguished Alumni Award Winner

Photo of Dr. Paula KramerWe are pleased to announce the recipient of the second annual Jim Hinojosa Alumni Award, Dr. Paula Kramer. The award, named in honor Dr. Jim Hinojosa’s immense contributions to the NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy and to the OT profession as a whole, seeks to recognize an outstanding NYU OT alumni who has made significant contributions to the profession.

Dr. Kramer is a three time graduate of NYU, and has written or co-authored 9 books and over 100 book chapters. Her focus is the translation of theory into practice, clearly describing the process and defining the concepts that are foundational to theory development. Together with Dr. Jim Hinojosa, she translates the abstract aspects of theory into a clear and understandable format. As a scholar, she has influenced practice by detailing how practitioners use the profession’s applied body of knowledge to provide theoretically based practice. Dr. Kramer was also named one of AOTA’s 100 Most Influential People in Occupational Therapy. Read on to learn more about Dr. Kramer, what brought her to the profession, and what she sees for the future of OT.

 

Tell us a little bit about your background, and your path to becoming an OT.

I had bad scoliosis when I was younger and surgery was recommended.  At that time, the process required an extended hospital stay with limited movement, including staying in bed.  My doctor recommended occupational therapy.  My occupational therapist taught me how to perform most ADL skills with my limited movement, but more importantly, she taught me that I was still a productive, functional person even with these limitations.  I learned that the limitations did not define me, I defined me.  That was an amazing gift. That made me love occupational therapy, and I wanted to become an occupational therapist ever since.

 

How do you think your education at NYU prepared you for becoming a leader in the field?

Being educated by leaders helps you to become a leader. I have three degrees from NYU, all in OT (which I would not necessarily recommend, but it did work for me). My baccalaureate gave me the basics that I needed to start my career.  My masters allowed me to grow and explore a more specified area of practice, working with children, understanding learning disabilities. And it taught me the critical importance of theory. Taking courses across campus in different departments was helpful and beginning to work with Anne Cronin Mosey was invaluable.  Throughout my doctorate, I was constantly encouraged to grow and stretch, and see what could be instead of what was. This is the essence of leadership, seeing future possibilities and being willing to grow to get there.

 

You have worked extensively in changing policy and education in the OT field, can you tell us a little about your accomplishments there?

I started my service to the profession locally with the Metropolitan New York District and NYSOTA.  I soon became involved with the Accreditation Council, I was interested in how education programs were developed and regulated. Around 1990, I was honored to Chair the new revision of the educational essentials now called the Standards. It was the first set of Standards developed independently by occupational therapists without the involvement of the Council for Allied Health Education and the American Medical Association.  I shocked to discover that the term “occupation” was not in our educational standards and that there was limited mention of theory.  I was proud to have championed the inclusion of both in the 1991 Standards.

 

Can you tell us about your writing and co-authoring of OT literature with Jim Hinojosa?

Jim and I have a fantastic relationship. He has been one of the most important people in my professional life, as well as being a great friend. Professionally, it is rather a co-mentorship.  He makes me think differently.  I can express myself and what I think about the profession or the topic we are working on, and he will give me his perceptions and together we can come to a consensus of what we want to put forward. He is one of those people that make you stretch and grow. I am very proud of all of the work we have done together, and I have enjoyed the collaboration so much.

 

What do you see for the future of the OT profession? What do you hope to accomplish in the future with your work?

I think the future of the profession is bright.  We have many opportunities as long as we keep focusing on how we change the functional performance of our clients.  We are finally becoming better known, but still have a ways to go, and it is important that we continue to promote the profession aggressively. I think the profession is somewhat at a crossroads with the decision to move to a doctoral level.  Personally, while I am aware of the potential drawbacks, I think we have to make the jump.  Our world recognizes education and titles, and to have our colleagues in physical therapy, at the doctoral level without having our profession at that level will put us at a disadvantage in the clinical world.  My personal goals are more in the area of continuing to write to improve areas of practice and knowledge especially in pediatrics and the importance of theory related to occupation.

NYU OT Students Study Autism in London

This January professor Kristie Patten Koenig and adjunct professor Stephen Shore took OT students to London for the Steinhardt Global course United Photo of OT StudentsKingdom: Comparative Perspectives on Autism and Well-Being. The course examined literature and research findings for evidence that supports treatment of children and youth with autism in a variety of settings.  Students’ clinical and educational experiences were used as a basis to examine the efficacy and effectiveness of intervention through a strength based lens. Advances in strength based approaches including health and education were examined and a comparative analyses conducted.

We spoke with Francine Cacciola, a current MS in OT student, about her experience during the London class, what brought her to NYU OT, and how she sees herself as a future practitioner.

Photo of Francine CacciolaWhat made you want to participate in this global class, and what was your favorite part about the experience?

One of my greatest academic interests has always been working with children with autism. I have taken many courses and worked with many children on the spectrum, so when I learned about the course being offered in London I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about autism from a new perspective.

Aside from the opportunity to explore the beautiful city of London, the course offered so many diverse opportunities to learn from Kristie Koenig, professor and chair of NYU’s OT department, and Stephen Shore, professor at Adelphi University and autism self advocate, as well as other autism self advocates, researchers, and professionals in the field. Unlike classes that rely heavily on reading and lectures, this course was interactive and provided first hand experiences from those living with autism and working with autistic individuals. I especially loved the interdisciplinary approach that the course encompassed. The students represented over 10 different programs from NYU and learning alongside students from other related programs fostered collaboration of ideas, experiences, and perspectives.

How did your time in London influence your view of the current system of working with ASD individuals in the US?

I have always had an interest in working in the school system, so it was inspiring to see the ways in which London is advanced in focusing on strengths in autistic individuals, a focus that I will incorporate into my practice and encourage others to do as well. We had the opportunity to visit the SPA School, a specialized school for autistic children. The school was equipped with full size trampolines in the gymnasium to provide the children with vestibular input, a greenhouse for children participate in horticulture, and art, music, and drama programs to foster creativity and promote expression and socialization. The school also had a coffee shop next door in which all of the students worked shifts during school hours to learn life skills. The SPA school was an encompassment of what I feel all schools should be offering to students on the spectrum or not. As a future occupational therapist I plan to incorporate aspects of the SPA School and what I have learned through the course in London into my practice working with children in schools.

Why do you think viewing autism through a strength based lens is the most effective form of intervention?

One theme that Kristie and Stephen strongly emphasized throughout the course is the fact that we don’t build a life doing things we are bad at. So why should we, as professionals, push for working on things that autistic people are bad at, especially when each individual has so many strengths to focus on. Instead of working solely on remediating weaknesses, we should be working with autistic individuals on creating a life based on their strengths.

What activity during the time in London opened your eyes most?

It is hard to pick one experience that impacted me the most during the course in London because each day was so memorable. One particular experience that truly resonated with me was the morning that we had the producers, cast, and writers of children’s show Pablo, come speak to us.

Pablo is a children’s show featuring an autistic child as the main character who creates animal friends with his magic crayons which represent different characteristics of autism. It was so amazing to hear from the autistic writers and actors themselves about their process of creating the episodes and generating ideas based off of their own life experiences. Most of the media portrayals of autism in the US are written and acted by individuals who are not autistic, so hearing the raw, honest process that goes into creating Pablo opened my eyes to how the US should be portraying autism.