Janet Njelesani Receives Grant from UNICEF

The Department congratulates Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy Janet Njelesani on her recent grant from UNICEF. Dr. Njelesani has worked with UNICEF throughout her career, and her research currently focuses on enhancing equity for children with disabilities in low and middle-income countries.

Dr. Njelesani was awarded funding in the amount of $320,226 from UNICEF. The funding supports the project, entitled “The landscape of child disability in Rwanda”, and will support the development of national child disability indicators for Rwanda, which align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The overall goal of the project is to improve the monitoring of the rights of children with disabilities in Rwanda, building on the work of the Government of Rwanda and the National Council of Persons with Disabilities. The project is led by Dr. Njelesani, in collaboration with the University of Toronto’s International Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation.

Study by Kristie Patten Koenig: Adults With Autism See Interests as Strengths, Career Paths

Department of Occupational Therapy Associate Professor and Chair Kristie Patten Koenig recently published the findings of a new study in the journal Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, which found that adults on the autism spectrum see their interests as possible fields of study and career paths, as well as ways to mitigate anxiety.

The findings continue a shift away from perceiving strong interests as a negative, and toward a perspective that recognizes the strengths and potential of these personal pursuits.

To read more about the study and its findings, visit Steinhardt At a Glance.

Steinhardt OT’s Listed on 100 Most Influential List for Profession Centennial

The American Association of Occupational Therapy (AOTA) is celebrating 100 years of occupational therapy as a discipline, and we are proud to share that many members of the NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy community have made the list of 100 Most Influential People. Included on the list are Steinhardt graduates Wimberly Edwards, MS, OTR, Paula Kramer, PhD, OT, FAOTA, Lorraine Pedretti, MS, OTR, and Professor Emeritus’ and former department chairs Anne Cronin Mosey, PhD, OT, FAOTA and Jim Hinojosa, PhD, OTR, FAOTA.

We spoke with Dr. Hinojosa, who recently retired from the Department in 2016, about his career, how it feels to be included on this list, and what he predicts for the future of the profession.

What do you consider to be the most significant accomplishment in your career?

I would say that my most significant accomplishment in the profession has been my scholarly work, including publications and research. I also have committed extensive service to the profession serving on the Executive Boards of the American Occupational Therapy Association Executive Board, American Occupational Therapy Foundation, and the New York State Occupational Therapy Association. I specifically served 13 years on the AOTA Commission on Practice, six years as chair.

What are you most proud of about being named one of 100 most influential OT’s?

I am most proud of being nominated by some of my peers whom I really respect. It is an incredible honor as the profession prepares to celebrate its centennial.  I think I am most proud of what one nominator wrote about me being a “Prime mover in most of the major developments in the profession over his entire, long career. In this nomination, I would principally stress his scholarly contributions which have had a major influence on the dissemination and formation of occupational therapy knowledge. This is true within the USA for occupational therapy practitioners and academics; for many, many students, and, as well, internationally, in occupational therapy and other health professions. . . His work is followed by thinkers throughout the world.”

What are the most significant changes in the profession that you’ve witnessed over the past 20 years?

Over the past 20 years, Occupational Therapy has responded to changes in society and rapidly adopted new knowledge and technological advances. Most significant is the adoption of evidence-based practice to support the importance of addressing people with disabilities, and to address daily occupations in the natural environment. In pediatrics, occupational therapy has become standard practice addressing the unique needs of young children.

Where is the profession headed? What do you see as the next big change?

This is an interesting question. As I am not sure what the big change will be–but I can speculate that the next major change will be an advancement in dealing with people with psychosocial disabilities in the natural setting. While I’m sure it will continue to become more evidence-based and scientific, my hope is it will not lose its art of practice in the importance of client-centered care.



Occupational Therapy Scholar Series: Fall 2016

The Fall 2016 semester brought three wonderful guest speakers to the department of Occupational Therapy as part of our Occupational Therapy Scholar Series. We were honored to have these insightful researchers visit the department to speak to students, faculty, and staff about current issues in the field.

Dr. Simona Kwon: Asian-American Health: Community Engaged Research and Context
The series kicked off on October 6th, when Dr. Simona Kwon presented her lecture “Asian-American Health: Community Engaged Research and Context”. Dr. Kwon is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Population Health and Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine and holds an appointment in the NYU Global Institute of Public Health.

Dr. Kwan spoke about her research, which examines the social and cultural contextual factors that influence health and health outcomes amongst racial and ethnic communities particularly Asia Americans. Dr. Kwon works collaboratively with multi-sector coalitions made up of local and national community-based organizations, government agencies, service delivery organizations, and multi-disciplinary researchers to address community level health disparities.

Dr. Ching-Yi Wu: Advances in Neurorehabilitation Post Stroke: Hybrid Therapy to Motor and Cognitive Recovery

On November 29th, we welcomed Dr. Ching-Yi Wu, ScD., Chair of Occupational Therapy at the College of Medicine, Chang Gung University in Taiwan to present her lecture “Advances in Neurorehabilitation Post Stroke: Hybrid Therapy to Motor and Cognitive Recovery”. Dr. Wu’s specialty relates to evidence-based research on stroke neurorehabilitation and extends to translational research and aging issues. Dr. Wu has published more than 150 articles in peer- reviewed journals and book chapters regarding OT for physical dysfunction.

In the presentation, Dr. Wu introduced a research project on hybrid therapy in an attempt to improve motor, cognition, and function post stroke. The studies include mirror therapy or robot-assisted training combined with transcranial current stimulation/electrical stimulation for improving motor and daily function as well as physical activities combined with cognitive training for enhancing cognitive and daily function post-stroke.

Dr. Orit Bart: Association Between Sensory-Motor Function and Cognitive-Emotional Aspects of Children With and Without Developmental Disabilities

Our final 2016 presentation took place on December 8th, when we welcomed Dr. Orit Bart, PhD, Chair of Occupational Therapy in the School of Health Professions at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Dr. Bart presented her lecture titled “Association Between Sensory-Motor Function and Cognitive-Emotional Aspects of Children With and Without Developmental Disabilities”.

Dr. Bart’s lecture discussed her involvement in a variety of multidisciplinary research projects on the association between sensory-motor function, psychological aspects, and participation of typically developed children and children with developmental problems.




Occupational Therapy J-Term Class Spotlight: Reframing the Meaning of Disabilities to Families

We chatted with Department of Occupational Therapy student Kathryn Pelech to learn more about her experience in the department’s J-Term class Reframing the Meaning of Disabilities to Families, taught by Dr. Judith Grossman. Dr. Grossman is an Associate Director at Ackerman Institute for the Family, as well as Project Director for Resilient Families: Children with Special Needs. The class examines family-centered care for families with special needs, taking into account theoretical approaches as well as experiences of parents and other care providers.

Where are you from, and what brought you to Steinhardt to study Occupational Therapy?

I am originally from Belle Mead, New Jersey, and I studied Health and Exercise Science at The College of New Jersey for my undergraduate degree. I was drawn to the Occupational Therapy Program at Steinhardt due to the accomplished faculty and the opportunity to work in such a culturally rich urban environment, which is where I ultimately see myself staying in the future.

What made you interested in taking the “Reframing the Meaning of Disabilities to Families ” course this winter?

In my career as an occupational therapist, I hope to work with children with special needs and at-risk youth in collaboration with their families. I felt that this course would prepare me to provide exceptional quality family-centered services.

What are some of your favorite aspects of the class?

Dr. Grossman encouraged us to learn about family resilience from the “inside out”, by reflecting on the structure and dynamics within our own personal families, which I found to be a very valuable and enlightening approach. I also felt inspired after hearing about Dr. Grossman’s professional endeavors, and how she has integrated family-centeredness in her practice

What is one important thing you learned from the course that you may have not otherwise come across?

I learned about the sheer impact that positive familial bonds can have on an individual’s capacity to overcome life’s challenges, and the importance of promoting this social support network when working with clients and their families.

What do you hope to accomplish with what you’ve learned in this class?

I hope to apply the knowledge I have gained from this course to recognize and respond to the needs of not only my future clients, but their families as well. On a larger scale, I would also like to work cooperatively with other service providers to address the barriers to family-centered care that exist within current societal systems.

What made you want to become an occupational therapist, and how has Steinhardt helped you fulfill those goals?

I wanted to pursue a career that was devoted to helping others achieve their goals and improve their quality of life. The Steinhardt faculty members have been extremely supportive and have offered unique perspectives from their diverse professional backgrounds and experiences, which has opened my eyes to the endless opportunities that the field of occupational therapy has to offer.


ASD Nest Support Project Awarded Contract by NYC DOE to Continue Work Supporting Autism Program

The NYU ASD Nest Support Project has been awarded a $929,100, one-year contract from the New York City Department of Education to provide support services for its ASD Nest Program, which now serves more than 1,000 children with autism in 39 public schools across the city. The grant also includes funding to train Department of Education staff working in non-ASD Nest schools on evidence-based and promising strategies to help children with autism.

“We are thrilled to continue working with the Department of Education as the ASD Nest Program expands into new classrooms, from Staten Island to the Bronx, and are proud of the work that is done in New York City schools every day to help students on the autism spectrum  reach their full potential,” said Kristie Patten Koenig, principal investigator of the ASD Nest Support Project and chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

The ASD Nest Program is the New York City Department of Education’s integrated co-teaching program for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Nestled within supportive neighborhood schools, the ASD Nest program helps children with autism learn how to function well academically, behaviorally, and socially in school and in their community. The goal is to provide a therapeutic environment and supports within a grade-appropriate academic setting.

NYU’s ASD Nest Support Project – housed within the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools at NYU Steinhardt – provides training, professional development, and on-site consultation for teachers, therapists, and administrators. The project’s team, led by Patten Koenig and project co-directors Dorothy Siegel and Aaron Lanou, also conducts research, provides workshops and a newsletter for ASD Nest parents, gives presentations at national professional organizations, and writes articles and other publications on relevant topics.

NYU’s partnership around autism with New York City’s Department of Education and Hunter College’s School of Education began in 2001; it aimed to fill a gap in the programs offered for children on the autism spectrum who were capable of doing grade-level work. The fruit of that collaboration was the ASD Nest program, piloted at P.S. 32 in Brooklyn in September 2003.

The ASD Nest Program continues to grow in every neighborhood of New York City. Now, in the 2016-17 school year, the program serves just over 1,000 children with autism in 256 fully inclusive ASD Nest classrooms in 21 elementary schools and 18 middle and high schools.



Books from our Faculty: Changes in the Brain by Yael Goverover

The department would like to congratulate Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy Yael Goverover on the publication of her new book, Changes in the Brain: Impact on Daily Life, edited by Professor Goverover and Nancy D. Chiaravalloti.

This informative text details the many changes in everyday life as the result of injury, illness, or aging affecting the brain. Experts across brain-related fields trace mechanisms of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, TBI, and dementia as they impact regions of the brain, and resulting cognitive, emotional, sensory, and motor impairments as they contribute to deficits in personal and social functioning. In addition to symptoms and behaviors associated with insults to the brain (and the extent to which the brain can adapt or self-repair), chapters provide cogent examples of how societal and cultural expectations can shape the context and experience of disability. The book’s focus on everyday activities brings new clarity to diverse links between symptoms and diagnosis, brain and behavior.

Included in the coverage:

·The aging brain and changes in daily function.

·Stroke: impact on life and daily function.

·Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the impact on daily life.

·Everyday life with cancer.

·Real-world impact of HIV-associated neurocognitive impairment.

·Disability and public policy in America.

·Living after brain changes, from the patient’s perspective.

Rich in empirical data and human insight, Changes in the Brain gives neuropsychologists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, and rehabilitation nurses a robust new understanding of the daily lives of patients, both in theory and in the real world.


January 2017 Therapy Ed NBCOT Test Prep Course

The NYU Department of Occupational Therapy is pleased to announce that it will once again be hosting its Annual January NBCOT Exam Prep course offered by Therapy Ed. The two-day course will be held at the University on Wednesday, January 18th and Thursday, January 19th, 2017. NYU OT students are eligible for a $30 course tuition discount. To register, please follow the instructions on the NYU OT registration form.

Please visit http://www.therapyed.com/nbcot.htm for additional course information.


AOTF St. Catherine’s Challenge Annual Kickball Tournament and Picnic Fundraiser

On September 16, 2016 over twenty faculty, staff, and students of the Occupational Therapy department participated in the annual AOTF St. Catherine’s Challenge by holding a Kickball Tournament in the East River Park.

The challenge is a student-led initiative to support the profession of occupational therapy by raising funds for research grants provided by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. It helps increase awareness of occupational therapy research that guides practice, and challenges OT students across the country to engage their communities and join together in support of the AOTF’s mission.

A great day was had by all as participants enjoyed a picnic lunch and friendly kickball competition. The event raised over $730 this year (a 60% increase from 2015!) and the department looks forward to holding the event again in 2017.