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  • Writer's pictureNicole Cipriani

Halftime, Everyone!

Updated: Mar 27, 2021

So on my own little health management journey as it relates to ADHD, I’ve been thinking about the masking I've done over the years, and letting go of the stuff that's getting in the way. There’s been some really intense self reflection as I go through this process. I just started reading Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn’t Designed for You by Jenara Nerenberg, founder of the Neurodiversity Project.

From the Introduction:

“Masking refers to an unconscious or conscious effort to hide and cover one’s own self from the world, as an attempt to accommodate others and coexist. Research and anecdotal evidence show that an extensive amount of masking and “passing” is going on among women and girls, primarily because of the way women are socialized.”

Side note, since Jenara Nerenberg talks about ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, Highly Sensitive Persons, and Synesthesia, I HAD to search for occupational therapy in the kindle version to quell my anxiety that we might be left out. It's there. We'll see how she did- OT's are primed to feel left out of discussions, but I'm already here for what she's saying, so I'll be trying to stay in the moment as I read.

Masking is a phenomenon I have felt in my own experience, as well as in my work with neurodivergent girls with sensory processing differences. Our symptoms tend to go unnoticed under the masks we create to fit in and avoid displeasing other people. I say unnoticed, but these differences are most certainly noticed by peers and some family members who may chalk their observations of us up to us being lazy, annoying, or not meeting our potential. This can cause us to double down, using so much more energy than if we could relax into ourselves in the first place. Unfortunately these difference do tend to go unnoticed by those who would be able to facilitate or provide earlier intervention to prevent the trauma caused by growing up in a world where you struggle to be simply understood.

I have been quietly going through this process of independently, intentionally unmasking for a couple years now, and with Occupy Yourself giving me natural prompts for reflection on my own occupational profile more depth since January, this process has been both fast-tracked, and given a weekly focus.

Val and I just published our midterm episode, and as I work to identify the parts of my thoughts and habits that I slapped on along the way to fit into what I thought I needed to be, I’m more prominently thinking about the adult learning theories that govern level 2 fieldwork in OT. From my notes in my fieldwork educator training (from 2016, last edited in 2014), two learning theories are used in conjunction with each other to foster learning for the fieldwork student. The questions you would ask under Transformative Learning Theory are:

  • What went well/not well?

  • What were the underlying assumptions governing your actions?

  • What would you change?

Next to Constructivism Learning Theory, I wrote in my notes: “Everything we do is learning if the reflection pieces are there. Making connections is important in the construction of new knowledge.” This was an unexpected synchronicity with our working mantra: “Connect. Integrate. Expand.” as we work to bring OT to the forefront of our little corner.

The key to both of these learning theories is reflection. Both parties, the student and the educator, should be reflecting in the context of fieldwork. Transformative learning includes examining biases and assumptions, fostering new viewpoints and options, where the educator is modeling the clinical introspective process throughout. And constructivism learning asks you to grow by examining the relationship between external events and factors you may not have considered.

Just prior to recording our most recent episode, our 5th, we critically examined our progress since starting, taking what we had learned as we set up the podcast, and working together to design the second half. In Episode 5- Midterm!, we reflected on our occupational histories, our experiences with this podcast fieldwork so far, and took that information to design what our final 4 fieldwork episodes will look like. If you will permit me a little OT analogy, now that we have the proximal stability of the day to day routines, we are able to gain the distal mobility of some further exploration into where this project can go.

In previous episodes, we've had chats about the 4th edition of AOTA's OT Practice Framework, we've talked to Marilyn "Marli" Cole about the evolution of OT and importance of client-centered, task-oriented, social therapy in areas of mental health, pediatrics, and older adults. We spoke to Roseanna Tufano about the rich context of families in working in mental health, particularly at post high-school transitions, and we also spoke to Shannon Downey, craftivist at about her occupational history, her work with communities to promote social change, and her life as an RVer. We also taught her what an OT really does! We did all this as we familiarized ourself with the process of producing a podcast and found a little groove.

In upcoming episodes, we’ll be talking to Sheila Frick, creator of Therapeutic Listening, about sensory integration, primitive reflexes, the effect of trauma on the body, and the art and science of OT treatment (already recorded- it's amazing). We will talk to Nicole Fidanza, Quinnipiac University professor, about her work with older adults and their risk for isolation, and also the wonderful world of neurology. We will also be talking to Miriam Feldman, author of He Came in With It: A Portrait of Motherhood and Madness, about her experience as the mother of a son with schizophrenia, and the role that art and painting has played in her and her family's occupational history.

Val has now begun the work on her final project, and is examining her own assumptions about her career, and making connections through research and interviews. We will be reflecting on it throughout the rest of our time in these roles. In episode 9, we'll discuss the outcome of her final project and the learning trajectory it takes her on! In the meantime I'll be reflecting on my little old self, and thinking about where to take the @occyoupod (and myself) from there.

Thanks for joining us on this journey! Everyone grab some Gatorade and orange wedges before we hit the second half!

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