A unique program combining a life review writing workshop with conversations between seniors and college students enhances the sense of meaning in life for older adults living independently, finds a new study by the Steinhardt School. The study is published in the July/August issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy.
At an event marking the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Senator Charles Schumer joined AT&T and NYU’s ABILITY Lab to announce more than $100,000 in prizes awarded to developers of high-tech solutions to improve the lives of people living with disabilities.
A panel of experts, which included Occupational Therapy’s own Anita Perr, judged the competition and awarded $100,000 in prize money that was made available by AT&T and the Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA).
Kristie Patten Koenig, chair of Steinhardt’s Department of Occupational Therapy, is the principal investigator of NYU’s GIFTED Program and ASD Nest programs. She teaches professional and post professional courses in the area of pediatric intervention, school based practice and sensory processing and regulation.
You had a whirlwind week with Ghanaian teachers at NYU in June. Can you tell us about the Ghana Wins program?
As the culmination of our year long GIFTED program, we hosted ten teachers and two principals from local school districts in Ghana, and two lecturers from the University of Education at Winneba. GIFTED, which is short for the Ghanaian Institute for the Future of Teaching and Education, is an NYU program that works with our local faculty partners at UEW in Ghana to empower teachers and principals to build on the strengths of their community.
When the women apply, we give priority to women that have not had any international travel. So it is quite amazing to experience New York City through their eyes and all the “firsts” they experience when they are in this great city.
This year our fellows visited PS 396 in the Bronx, which is one of our ASD Nest schools, to learn about alternative instructional methods. Dean Patricia Carey gave an inspirational message about leadership at our opening ceremonies and they attended a talk on sustainability and community engagement with Steinhardt faculty member Dana Burde.
We also discussed sex education in the Ghanaian context with Jon Zimmerman and got to hear Ohkee Lee share a very personal story about her path to being a woman leader.
You are an occupational therapist by training. What is the link between your GIFTED work, your work with children with autism spectrum disorder and OT? Or maybe I am asking simply: ‘what is occupational therapy?’
I am an occupational therapist by training with a doctorate in educational psychology. In my role as a practicing OT, I have worked in public schools to improve functional outcomes for children who are often marginalized. As a researcher, I have sought to study the effectiveness of interventions that work in the public schools.
In the case of autism, students often have poorer than expected postsecondary outcomes when compared to their peers with other disabilities. NYU’s ASD Nest Program is a comprehensive program that targets their specific needs to improve these outcomes for students in the public schools.
Our GIFTED women know what their schools need and work with young girls, which are another marginalized group in Sub-Saharan Africa, in order to improve their long-term outcomes. We help them to design clubs that can offer meaningful activities and occupations to achieve their results. Some examples of these clubs are cultural dance, role-play, batik and tie dying, soap making, photography, and math and science skills. This use of activity is a core value of occupational therapy.
As a woman leader, I benefited early in my career from being a part of a fellowship program that chose fifteen leaders and engaged us in a year of goal-setting, mentoring circles, and interaction. This program, which was a joint collaboration between the American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Foundation, laid the groundwork for the perspective I have brought to the GIFTED program.
How do you bridge the difference between yourself and others?
At our first meeting with the faculty of education at the University of Winneba, my principal co-investigator, Rose Vukovic, and I made it clear that we did not know what schools in Ghana needed and that we wanted a true partnership. Our approach has been to build on the wisdom of our partners and to facilitate the change that our GIFTED fellows would like to make in their schools and community. In practice this means that we listen a lot. We let our GIFTED fellows be the experts of their own contexts, and we directly confront, as much as possible, our own assumptions about working in communities that are not our own.
This mutual respect — that I think pervades every aspect of the program — has helped bridge many of the obvious differences.
The 95th Annual AOTA Conference and Expo was held April 16-19, 2015, in Nashville, Tennessee. The conference celebrated its 50th anniversary with the theme, “Giving Voice to the Distinct Value of Occupational Therapy.”
For the first time, the department had an exhibition booth to promote our post-professional programs (MA, DPS, and PhD). Prospective students had the opportunity to meet with and speak to our associate director of enrollment, various faculty, and our fieldwork administrator coordinator. The interaction between prospective students and our representatives was vital for them to learn about the NYU post-professional occupational therapy programs.
The department was also excited to hold its annual alumni dessert reception during the conference. The event, which was held Friday, April 17 at the Omni Nashville Hotel, welcomed alumni, faculty, and students of the department.
Scroll through our slideshow of photos from our exhibition booth and reception below!
The Department extends its congratulations to the many NYU Steinhardt OT faculty, students, and alumni who took part in the annual conference.
The NYU Steinhardt OT faculty participated at the conference through the following lectures and presentations:
- “ePortfolios: The Way of the Future for Self-Assessing and Documenting Competence”
Associate Professor and Department Chair Kristie Patten Koenig
- “Development of a Middle School Independence Curriculum: An Occupational-Based Program for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)” with Dora Onwumere, MS, OTR/L; Lauren Harris; and Steven Seidman, OTR/L, all of New York City Department of Education, Brooklyn, NY
Associate Professor Yael Goverover
- “Performance-Based Assessment for Adults with Cognitive Impairments: Research Findings and Practice Implications” with Mary Radomski, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Courage Kenny Research Center, Minneapolis, MN; Leslie Davidson, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA; Deirdre Dawson,PhD, OT Reg (Ont.), University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; Laurel Smith, MS, OTR/L, United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA; and Timothy Wolf, OTD, OTR/L, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Associate Professor Tracy Chippendale
- “Perceived Neighborhood Fall Risks and Strategies Used to Prevent Outdoor Falls: Does Age Matter?” with contributing author Marie Boltz, PhD, RN, GNP-BC
NYU Steinhardt OT adjunct faculty and current students participated at the conference through the following lectures and presentations:
Adjunct Professor Patricia A. Gentile
- “Occupational Therapy Leadership in Designing and Implementing Injury Prevention Programs in Level I Trauma Centers” with contributing author, Mark A. Dekki, MPA. Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, Jamaica, NY
Ph.D. candidate Grace Kim
- “Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics: An Interdisciplinary Pediatric Program for Service and Research” with Jan Rowe, DrOT, OTR/L, FAOTA, Children’s of Alabama, Wilsonville, AL; Deek Cunningham, MS, OTR/L, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL; Karmen Fischbach, MS, OTR/L, Jefferson County Board of Education, Birmingham, AL; Shannon Bennett, PhD; Lisa Rivera, MS, OTR/L, all of Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY
We would also like to recognize the participation of the following alumni:
Gary Bedell ‘86, ‘98
Lisa Davis ‘80
Diane Powers Dirette ‘97
Nancy Finkelstein-Kline ‘98
Glen Gillen ‘89
Sharon Gutman ‘97
Neil Harvison ‘04
Laurie Knis-Matthews ‘05
Fengyi Kuo ‘98
Ai Lian Lim ‘09
Supawadee Lee ‘02
Marianne Mortera ‘04
Alisha Ohl ‘12
Laurette Olson ‘02
Meira L. Orentlicher ‘08
David Pallister ‘95
Christine Peters ‘06
Mara Podvey ‘09
Christine Rotko ‘73
Joyce Sabari ‘92
Sarah A. Schoen ‘01
Steven Seidman ‘94
Francine M. Seruya ‘09
Chinyu Wu ‘95
If there are any names that have been left out erroneously, please let us know, so we can include them here.
In January 2015, Dr. Tsu-Hsin Howe was named Director of the Post-Professional Programs, where she joins Dr. Sally Poole, director of the Professional Program and Dr. Kristie Patten Koenig, department chair as part of the academic leadership team. Dr. Howe has been with the department as a faculty member since Fall 2007, and has since established an active research agenda. Her research focuses on examining motor behaviors in children who are at high-risk for developmental delay.
She was recently awarded a University Challenge Grant to work with faculty from NYU Polytechnic to develop and calibrate a sensor mat in order to assess infants’ postural development sequence based on the characteristics of their pressure distributions in prone positions. This research will eventually produce information for use within special populations including children with Erb’s palsy, Cerebral Palsy, Torticollis, developmental disabilities and prematurity. Dr. Howe also has ongoing research collaborations with Mount Sinai Medical Center studying feeding outcomes of preterm infants beyond the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) environment. The focus is to investigate the potential feeding issues preterm infants might have after discharged from the NICU and the possible effects on parental stress. Finally, Dr. Howe collaborates with Dr. Tien-Ni Wang, an assistant professor at National Taiwan University and alumnus of the PhD program in Occupational Therapy Research, to develop a digitized handwriting outcome measure for Chinese characters that assesses handwriting legibility and kinematic characteristics.
Dr. Howe received a BS in occupational therapy from National Taiwan University, and both an MA and PhD in occupational therapy from NYU’s Department of Occupational Therapy. She practiced in both community and hospital-based settings for more than 20 years, including 15 as a pediatric clinical specialist in Mount Sinai Medical Center of New York City before coming back to her alma mater. At NYU, she teaches classes on pediatric and research topics at both the master’s and doctoral levels. She is trained in neuro-developmental treatment in pediatrics and is certified to administer the Neonatal Oral Motor Assessment Scale.
Anita Perr, clinical associate professor of occupational therapy and a member of the ABILITY Lab, joined the Lab with AT&T to host a hackathon that kicked off the AT&T NYU Connect Ability Challenge. Perr is also a judge for the event. The challenge is a three-month global $100,000 software competition that leverages mobile technology to improve the lives of people living with disabilities. Teams will build technology prototypes that will help improve life for people with disabilities. By matching people with the power to develop influential technology and client users with disabilities, the challenge hopes to facilitate the development of user-centered technology that can be used by a number of people quickly.
The challenge has been open for submissions since April 6 and will remain open until June 24. It’s open to individuals, teams and organization with more than 50 employees. Perr has expressed her excitement of working with AT&T and the ABILITY Lab’s participation in the event. “The Challenge makes a strong statement on inclusion by encouraging and expecting developers to work with technology users in their design process,” Perr said in a RESNA article.
AT&T has an ongoing relationship with NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. This year’s focus on assistive technology is timely, as it coincides with the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The four exemplars come from a variety of backgrounds. Gus Chalkias, who teaches computer access at Baruch College’s Computer Center for Visually Impaired People, is blind and is interested in navigation or wayfinding technology and technology to ease participation in recreational activities. Xian Horn, who teaches and is a public speaker, has cerebral palsy and is interested in hands-free mobile technologies with an emphasis on communication apps, such as social media, texting, email, etc. Paul Kotler, who is a student, blogger, advocate, and educator, has autism and uses a tablet and keyboard to write. He is interested in non-verbal communication solutions, easy document saving and retrieval. He is also interested in technology to monitor stress and anxiety to offer relief. Jason DaSilva, who is a filmmaker, has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair. He is interested in hands-free solutions, detailed wheelchair accessibility information, such as door width, accessible business entrances, locations of elevators, and accessible restrooms.
The winners of the competition will be honored during a celebration in late July 2015. Click to learn more about the NYU ABILITY Lab, a collaborative research and education space co-directed by NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Occupational Therapy, NYU Tisch’s ITP, and NYU Poly’s Integrated Digital Media Program.
The NYU Department of Occupational Therapy congratulates Shantel Isaac, Professional Program Class of 2016, for receiving a 2015 President’s Service Award. The 31st annual ceremony, which was held April 21 at the Kimmel Center for University Life, recognized Isaac “For her altruistic nature and positive leadership as community outreach officer of the Occupational Therapy Class of 2016.” The award is given to student organizations and individual leaders for their distinguished achievements and service to NYU. Congratulations Shantel!
The NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 Frieda J. Behlen Occupational Therapy Scholarships. This year’s awardees are Precious Herrera, Callah Kimble, and Charlene Woo. These three exceptional students will each receive a $3,500 tuition award for their Summer 2015 semester.
Precious Herrera is interested in pursuing a career in the areas of mental health, pediatrics, and neuroscience. Beyond that, she hopes to do work with women education and empowerment, as well as take her career abroad in developing countries. As an officer for the Class of 2016, she helps in the planning of social events and fundraiser opportunities for the department and her classmates, as well as supporting her fellow class officers in establishing connections with other NYU programs such as physical therapy and speech-language pathology (Communicative Sciences and Disorders). By volunteering for a non-profit in the Bronx, she has educated youth on occupational therapy and her experiences in NYU’s program. She hopes to someday be able to establish an OT curriculum at her undergraduate alma mater and eventually return to NYU as an adjunct professor.
Callah Kimble is interested in the emerging practice of sensory integration rooms in psychiatry. Originally from California, she chose to enroll in NYU’s OT program 3,000 miles away from home and has been inspired by the passion and commitment of the NYU OT faculty. She has made a priority out of attending the annual AOTA conference and is her class’ AOTA co-representative, a position that involves helping organize the trip and urging others to attend. Eventually, she wants to work as an OT in an inpatient psychiatric unit and, more specifically, practice as a clinician in an inpatient eating disorder unit/clinic. She also places a strong emphasis on community involvement and, as a result, is a member of the New York State Occupational Therapy Association, the Occupational Therapy Association of California, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Charlene Woo has watched her passion for occupational therapy evolve during her time at NYU. Coming into the program, she wanted to work in outpatient pediatrics, but her fieldwork experiences have led her to develop a connection to geriatrics and palliative care. She is her class’ co-chair, writes for the department’s SpOTlight blog, and attends NYU’s Therapy Collective events where speech language pathologists and physical therapists discuss their respective professions. She represents NYU at events for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, including NAMI Walks, and helps bring participants to their events as well. Whether she establishes a career by opening a private practice or by advocating for additional end-of-life care, she hopes to make a difference in occupational therapy.
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/.
Suzanne Sanchez is a senior director of therapy services at the New York City Department of Education, which is responsible for providing necessary services to students with disabilities from more than 600 schools. An NYU Department of Occupational Therapy alum, Sanchez’s work centers around policy development related to occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and assisted technology services within the public school system, which serves almost 35,000 students that require occupational therapy and about 15,000 who need physical therapy services. In an interview with SpOTlight, Sanchez talks about her journey to an administrative role at the Department of Education and the diverse and challenging roles of occupational therapists in the public school system.
Could you give an example of how you have shaped policy that connects students to occupational or physical therapy services? How do you know that a public school student might need them?
One of the things we do is determine what services should be provided to support the students that need them and decide which is the best service, whether it is occupational therapy, physical therapy, or speech therapy. We develop an individualized teaching program for the student and guidelines around the criteria for providing these services. We assign a therapist to work with the student and they, along with supervisors, determine an intervention plan for each case. We have a staff of more than 1,200 OTs and PTs, more than 2,000 speech therapists, and we provide professional development to them on school-based practice interventions.
How is the therapy administered? Is it tied to the school curriculum and given in the school itself?
Yes. The majority of the services are administered in schools themselves. We do have some kids who may receive services at home if they are homeschooled or are in a homeschool situation because of an injury. But more than 90 percent of our services are provided in school and they are provided in a therapy room or directly in the classroom, which we call the natural environment so the therapist can work to support the student exactly where their disability is impacting them.
Could you give an example of the kind of OT services a student may need or receive in a classroom setting?
Let’s say a student has cerebral palsy and has a physical disability where they have what we call hemiparesis, that student may need support while typing on a keyboard, holding a pen or a pencil, sitting upright in a chair, or moving around the school environment and participating in gym or lunch room with their peers. An OT, PT, or speech therapist would go and assess the student’s level of functioning and evaluate where the student might need support and how the support can be provided. Much of our work is focused on ensuring that students with disabilities participate with their non-disabled peers so that they are not separate or segregated. A therapist can help the student by either using adaptive equipment to increase mobility, work on speech and language production so they are able to communicate with their peers, or use an assisted technology device so that a student can communicate and socialize with their peers if they have limited communication skills.
What makes working in a school system unique or different from other occupational therapy settings?
I think one of the things working in the school system offers is exposure and the opportunity to work with children with all kinds of disabilities. I have worked with children who have neurological or physical and cognitive impairments, autism, spina bifida, and those with intellectual disabilities – pretty much anything you can think of. I think that working in the school system poses a unique set of challenges and there are a wide variety of disabilities that a therapist is expected to support. It’s not like an outpatient setting where you’re working with primarily hip and knee replacements, or an in-patient facility where you will see patients who have had a stroke or neurological injury. A school-based service is much more subjective and encompasses a much wider of range of disabilities in a broad age range. A therapist here works with students ranging from preschool to 12th grade.
Today, there are many career tracks for occupational therapy students, especially therapists who want to work with children. There’s pre-school setting, clinical setting, sensory integration specialties, and certainly now needs that are related to autism. There are tremendous opportunities out there for therapists interested in OT and assisted technologies.
What drew you to occupational therapy and the program at NYU?
I had worked in a group home for young adults with autism during undergraduate school and it was there that I was first exposed to occupational therapy. Before that, I did my undergraduate degree in Miami and was considering PT school actually. I spent some time exploring schools of OT and PT, and being a native New Yorker, I immediately looked at NYU. I went to an open house at the OT department and fell in love with the program. It was really that psychosocial component that drew me to OT and to NYU, and I thought that was something that was very valuable and lacking in some other programs.
Could you tell us a bit about your journey to your current position? How was the transition from playing the role of a therapist to more of an administrative side of things?
I have been in this position for a year-and-a-half with the Department of Education, and I graduated from NYU in 1996. I worked as a school-based OT for about 10 years and then I worked as an OT supervisor, after which I became the director of occupational therapy services. I took this job as senior director of all services about a year-and-a-half ago. At first, it was definitely difficult, but a lot of skills are skills that you use in occupational therapy, such as problem solving and people skills, and I think I was fortunate to be successful at transferring those skills into management.
How has being a part of the NYU alumni network helped you?
There are other NYU alumni, specifically from the OT program, who are my colleagues in and out of the school system, and I work with them on a continual basis. Some of them are also colleagues who own private practices and work with students’ families as therapists and supervisors. Because I’m a lifelong learner, the current faculty at NYU also serve as a great resource for me.
What would you say is the best part of your job?
I think the best part of my job is being able to work with different types of children and their families and make an impact daily on the lives of students with disabilities. I’m very fortunate to be able to do that.
Kristie Patten Koenig, associate professor and department chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy was just featured in the recent New York Times article on the rise of Occupational Therapy cases in NY Schools. Speaking to the increase in quality as well as quantity of school based programming she said, “As more and more larger school districts are looking at inclusion practices, it becomes a more comprehensive program, versus just drop-and-pray or physical inclusion but not really integration.” To read the full article click here.