• Miscellaneous,  Parenting

    How to Enjoy the Santa Story Without Lying to your Child

    By presenting the “Santa Story” as fiction, you can still celebrate the fun traditions of the Christmas season while avoiding the downsides of deceiving your child. *This post was updated on 12/11/18 to include an FAQ section and some quotes from other parents. Every December, a few articles circulate with titles like, “How to Tell Your Kids the Truth About Santa Without Breaking Their Hearts.” They encourage parents to tell children they get to “become Santa” and thus “the Santa construct is not a lie that gets discovered, but an unfolding series of good deeds and Christmas spirit” (quote attributed to an anonymous Facebook post, which has been widely shared).…

  • Chronic Illness,  Invisible Illness,  Rheumatoid Arthritis

    My Invisible Illness Photo Shoot

    Introduction People often remark that those of us with invisible illnesses “don’t look sick.” However, we deal with substantial physical and emotional challenges. To shed light on the often hidden side of living with chronic illness, I completed an “Invisible Illness Photo Shoot” with dear friend and phenomenal photographer Jessica Keener Photography. Goals of the photo shoot 1. To illustrate that you cannot tell what someone is going through just by looking at them. I hope that these photos help people remember to “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” (Ian MacLaren). 2. To help those who have similar invisible challenges not feel alone. I have benefited from…

  • Chronic Illness,  Invisible Illness,  Rheumatoid Arthritis

    To my Chronic Illness Medical Team…

    Note: This was originally written as guest blog post for CreakyJoints, a patient advocacy and education site that focuses on arthritis and related conditions.  There is no finish line. You won’t walk out of the operating room in a moment of triumph saying, “We got it! She’s better now.” The dramatic moments in our relationship are so quiet they would never make it into a medical drama, yet they engulf the room in a searing way that I know we both feel. You are the unsung heroes of the medical profession: providers who care for patients like me who have chronic, complex, invisible illnesses. Your daily grind is likely a…

  • Autism,  Developmental disabilities,  Occupational Therapy

    Strategies for Neurotypical People to Develop Empathy for Autistic People

    Historically, there has been much debate about the extent to which autistic individuals experience empathy. I am using the phrase “autistic individuals” rather than “individuals with autism,” per the recommendation from the Autism Self-Advocacy Network. Recent studies indicate that while autistics may experience and demonstrate empathy in different ways from neurotypicals, they do indeed experience it, sometimes to intense degrees. The debate is well summarized here. Throughout this discussion, I have observed a curious and glaring omission: what about how and whether neurotypicals empathize with autistics? One of the basic tenets of social skills is reciprocity, an attunement to the back and forth nature of social interactions. If we are…

  • Life hacks,  Occupational Therapy,  Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Parenting Without Pain: Dressing and Clothing Life Hacks

    I am proud to be a guest blogger with the wonderful patient resource Creaky Joints. I am currently writing a series of posts on the topic of Parenting Without Pain. The posts will tackle how parents with arthritis or other painful joint conditions can approach activities of daily living involved in caring for children in a way that minimizes joint pain. My first topic is Dressing and Clothing Life Hacks. In this post, I cover everything from clothing selection (more zippers, less snaps!) to joint protection strategies, regardless of materials used (such as using a hand splint, as pictured below). Click here for the full post!

  • Occupational Therapy,  Pediatric occupational therapy,  Reflective Practice

    Childhood Memories and Lessons that Influence my Work as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist: Part 1

    Below, I will share childhood memories that influence my daily work as a pediatric occupational therapist. Accessing my childhood memories helps me identify with a child’s perspective, even if that child has a specific disability or challenge that I did not experience. When I find myself mystified by a child’s behavior or perspective, I conjure up vivid memories of what it was really like to be a child. Remembering the complexity of my social, emotional and academic experiences helps build a crucial bridge of empathy between myself and my students.  My lessons are geared towards older elementary aged students who are mostly in the general education setting, as those are the children…

  • Invisible Illness,  Rheumatoid Arthritis

    A New Way to interpret “But You Don’t Look Sick”

    I am happy to report that I am now blogging on the Creaky Joints website. Creaky Joints is a nonprofit that provides  information sharing, support, and advocacy resources for persons with arthritis and related conditions, many of which are chronic, invisible illnesses.  My first blog post is A New Way to Interpret “But You Don’t Look Sick,” an excerpt of which can be found below. “When I communicate my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis to someone for the first time, I’m often told that I ‘don’t look sick.’ Many people understandably feel that being told they don’t look sick is delegitimizing. It is easy to interpret the statement to mean, ‘You don’t LOOK…

  • Chronic Illness,  Rheumatoid Arthritis,  Self Care

    The Storm After the Calm: 8 Lessons Learned After A Tumultuous Postpartum Experience With Rheumatoid Arthritis

    I recently shared my pregnancy and postpartum journey with the popular and helpful website Autoimmune Mom. The full story can be found here. The post details my journey from a relatively tranquil pregnancy to a postpartum “storm” due to my chronic illness issues (including rheumatoid arthritis). It includes three sections after Charlie’s birth:  Survival, Mastitis and Flare-Ups (0-3 months) Feeling Like I “Almost Got This,”or Wayward Optimism (4-16 months) The New Normal: Accepting that life/parenting/my health is now in a permanent state of flux (16 months to present). Ideally, the full post should be read in order for the ultimate lessons I have learned to make sense in context.  For those who might…

  • Occupational Therapy,  Pediatric occupational therapy

    Why and How Do Pediatric Occupational Therapists Play Games?

    Why do pediatric occupational therapists (OTs) play games? Pediatric therapist are often asked why we spend time “just” playing games with our clients. In addition to being engaging to children, games are powerful tools through which we work on a variety of skills including fine motor, visual-motor, gross motor, strength, social, emotional, sensory, and attention, planning and other executive functioning skills. OTs are experts in adapting games to fit a child’s goals. A competent occupational therapist will never “just play” a game with a child. The game itself and many aspects of the game’s set-up will be consciously chosen and adapted on a minute by minute basis so as to support the child’s…

  • Chronic Illness,  Rheumatoid Arthritis,  Self Care

    My Chronic Illness Playlist

    Why music? While managing my autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis over the last 12 years, I’ve found music to be helpful in a variety of situations. Some songs help me calm down when I’m anxious, other songs allow me to just “be” in a sad moment, and some music inspires me or puts everything in perspective. Not surprisingly, research has shown that listening to music can have many positive effects on one’s mood as well as other aspects of the mind.  Research specifically on the use of music in persons with chronic illness have found it to have beneficial effects as well. With that in mind, I’d like to share my personal “chronic illness playlist.” I’ve divided the songs…