I have faced this question many times in the past few weeks. Can we still do it?
COVID-19 has compelled everyone to change their style of doing work worldwide tremendously. In the beginning, everyone thought it a temporary phase and that everything would be going back to normal very soon, but as time has gone by, it is apparent this is not the case.
Therefore, we needed to adapt our status quo in delivering service to patients and the like; our working styles have had to be reassessed and our perception changed too. We asked ourselves, “Do we need to make a new set of rules and principles to follow at work?”
All our individual group therapy sessions at work were stopped abruptly due to the COVID-19 crisis. I realised most of my existing games, activities, etc. suddenly became ineffective as the modality of delivery had to change.
Although we were attempting to call parents and explain what activities they could do at home, after a post analysis we found parents were also anxious and stressed as they shared a lot of other responsibilities in the family.
The situation is already taxing for most parents. Some parents were trying but they don’t know what to do—which activities should be done? How were they to do those activities correctly?
There is so much information available online but parents don’t know which sources to trust and what would be beneficial to them.
I needed to solve these problems mentioned above. First, I thought of starting with a series of videos for parents to watch and follow the activities easily; as the saying goes, “What I see I will remember and what I do I will never forget.” Therefore, I had to incorporate visual and physical activities as the core principle of all my videos.
There was an opportunity to start thinking of how to use any junk materials found in the house in creating leaning aids.
An occupational therapist has no boundaries or limits in creating activities, and furthermore, the OT can make a bundle of activities from simple materials in our daily lives at home. Given the COVID challenge, I didn’t want to dwell on what I had not done in the past, instead wanting to move ahead.
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I understand new innovations in social media and creativity help in remotely engaging patients, enhancing service delivery quality, and improving patient outcomes, even after this pandemic situation is over.
Most of the activities on the videos are geared to meet our clients’ requirements and the goals they want to achieve individually. With that in mind, I selected things such as beans of different colors, whiteboard marker pens, empty shoeboxes, shoelaces, paper rolls, pillows, straws, and much more stuff from our daily use.
Finding the materials was easy. However, there was one hurdle in implementing my ideas. I needed to find someone who could enact the activities in my videos. Fortunately, my son volunteered and gladly took part in all the videos.
He became the central person who helped me in achieving the production of the videos which in turn were viewed more than 500 times on YouTube. My other weakness was that I am not a professional in making videos and I had to ask for my husband’s help.
There were a lot of background materials we needed to procure, and with my husband’s guidance, we bought editing software for videos before we got down to the business of shooting this series of educational videos.
Indeed, my whole family got involved with my vision and to date we have produced and published 16 videos and are planning to release almost two videos every week until we hit 50. Responses and feedback were given by my clients and also by the people who are following my videos on social platforms and communities like Facebook and YouTube.
The production and publication of videos went better then we predicted, which inspired us to broaden the platform by designing workbooks, which in turn kept our patients busy and engaged post video or webinar events during their day to day routines.
I started making some workbooks on topics such as visual perception, anger management techniques, feelings, and social skills training. I also made some games for families to play together based on therapy topics. I would like to give a brief detail about one of my games.
When I posted it on Facebook it reached almost 22,000 views and is still counting. I am getting daily requests for copies of this game and I have so far happily sent it to more than 200 people free of charge. The response has been a measure of how successful the game is and gives me some gratification.
This game is classic Snakes and Ladders with a twist. It is always a fun-filled activity for all age groups. I introduced a different version for children of all ages to play at home and they are allowed to change the content according to their environmental surroundings.
When the activity is approached with fun and competitiveness, it becomes easier to learn and perform. Children will learn various aspects about day to day routine and health care concepts.
Parents also can learn so much about their kids because kids become carefree while playing and can express themselves. It could be a good tool for parents to know their children’s feelings and behavior patterns.
The Videos/Games/Workbooks initiation was well received and was also acknowledged by my clients’ families, my colleagues, and my immediate supervisor.
As a therapist, we can do magic and more if we use our imagination. I am sharing the links to my YouTube channel and Facebook page, which are open for all parents and professionals. Anyone can contact me if they need anything.
My only request to the parents is please don’t stop working with your kids because of the pandemic situation or financial issues, and keep in mind this situation is not a destination.
We need to go beyond the restriction of COVID-19 and continue to live our lives without limits for a better family and society. In the end, the answer to my question above is, “Yes, we can do it together!”
This article was featured in Issue 107 – Caring for Your Autism Family