Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Learning from Helen Keller

Working as an Occupational Therapist and Healing Facilitator opens ones eyes to a side of society that is hard to break through. It is very sad to hear and witness those who believe that if someone can not speak they must function like a child. So I was asked by someone just a few days ago who asked "if an adult lost their speech through a stroke or head injury does their thought become like that of a child? Would you now regard them as a child?"

It is impossible for anyone to enter the mind of another, even someone with Ruach HaKodesh will have limitations to everything the other thinks or feels. However, children, although little people and still developing and learning about life are mostly filled with energy and an eagerness to discover all they can about their world.

The woman who asked me if someone who loses their speech begins to think like a child was determined to get me to label someone who lost their speech to function on a lower level. Her comment was made in the negative, but the truth is that to see the world as a child does is truly a wonderful and exciting thing to do.

When I was studying occupational therapy, I took a patient in a wheelchair for an outing to the central business district to learn how to maneuver her wheel chair on and off pavements, how to get in and out and around shops, stores and various places of interest. She elected to use this outing as an opportunity to purchase a garment she needed. Why not since we were trying out how to shop in a store anyway. Then came 2 hurdles.

1) The isle was too narrow for a wheelchair and
2) Every question she had or when she wished to pay, the shop assistants insisted on talking to me rather than her. When I refused to answer and asked the shop assistant to talk to their client, interested in purchasing a garment, there was silence and then "Can she understand me? Can she manage her money?" Why not, she is only in a wheelchair, her legs don't hold her but her mind is perfectly fine.

On one occasion, while attending a ward round, the doctor heading the ward round was amazed to hear that occupational therapists can actually evaluate a blind persons level of function and teach him or her to become independent. The doctor's refusal to believe a blind person can actually do anything resulted in this little 6 year old not being referred for Occupational Therapy until an OT, who happened to be on a ward-round, insisted on at least giving him a chance by starting with an evaluation.

It is sad that today, with so much advance in the world, people still look down on anyone with the slightest hint of something different. Occupational Therapy is all about working with another to assist them to become all that they can, within the confines of their limitations and to learn or find news ways to do things so that a disability or hurdle or limitation whether physical or other is transformed into a part of who they are, a vital member of society and our world.

It is very hard to convince someone who does not want to believe that another can actually do what they can. Thanks to the internet and video / documentaries, we now have all manner of teaching tools that can open the eyes of those blind on a different level. Those who are blind to the fact that someone without speech can still think. Someone without physical sight can still read. Someone without hearing can still know when you enter a room.

Here is a powerful documentary about a single lady who opened the eyes of so very many. The documentary is 9 minutes long and teaches amazing lessons on very many levels.

Amongst other lessons, this documentary highlights how much is possible by believing in another and giving them a chance to be who they are.

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