Reading as an Occupation: What I read in August.

For the month of August, I went away for a week and somehow that changed the whole trajectory of what I read for the month! While being on vacation, I decided on quick reads rather than more intense books. For books that impacted my occupational therapy practice, I focused on a favorite author of mine, Malcolm Gladwell and a book on Autism. Though my list is small, I think  it is a mighty list of books that can impact occupational therapy practice and provide occupational balance.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and The Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell.

I learned about Malcolm Gladwell a couple of years ago and ended up reading The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers. I enjoyed the practicality of his writing and the research that backed up his material. I was not sure of David and Goliath. I am not sure why the book never spoke to me, but I was certainly glad I made the leap and read it. The book’s focus was on “underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants”. The entire premise of the book is focusing on ways to use the strengths of others to ensure success. Gladwell’s used a few examples that resonated with me as an occupational therapist such as individuals with dyslexia, those in the underserved prison population, and individuals that dealt with trauma in their lives.

With each example, Gladwell was able to look at the strengths of each individual (hello strength-based interventions) to support methods of interaction and guide expectations. With my interest in literacy, one example that resonated with me were the examples of indivduals with dyslexia. As therapists, we always want to “fix” a client and bring them to the norm. However, Gladwell’s examples point out that sometimes the skills of the norm does not result in success. Therefore, trying to move to this self-determined point does not benefit an individual with a particular deficit. For example, Gladwell pointed to an individual with dyslexia who indicated that he quickly understood that one area of weakeness for him was reading. Therefore, he sharpened his listening skills. He worked with his strengths to get himself through school and ended up becoming a Yale trained lawyer.

There were many a-ha moments for me as I read this book. The biggest takeaway for me, which is so OT, is to focus on the strengths of our clients. Use their strengths to guide our interventions rather than focusing on pushing the needle to the norms.

Rating:  4 of out of 4. Highly recommend this book. The examples that Gladwell uses can easily be applied to occupational therapy clients to positive impact engagement and outcomes.

An Autism Casebook for Parents and Practitioners by Shoshana Levin Fox

An Autism Casebook for Parents and Practitioners provides a wealth of material that can positively impact not only treatment outcomes with autistic children, but also methods to support parents as they address the needs of their child. The clinical scenarios and theoretical concepts provided supports clinical reasoning and knowledge of autism. Dr. Levin Fox supports the knowledge of practitioners and students with case studies that can be reviewed and analyzed by healthcare professionals that provide services to autistic children and their parents.

In the first section of An Autism Casebook for Parents and Practitioners, in-depth case studies are provided to build clinical knowledge. As an educator, having a thorough case study to review and analyze provides a learning opportunity for students. As a practitioner, having a thorough case study provides an opportunity for reflective practice. Smith provides eight case studies that have a variety of clinical scenarios with autistic children, from misdiagnosis, early diagnosis, unexpected treatment outcomes, delayed timeframe for progress, and much more.

The  second section contains foundational theoretical concepts, another learning opportunity for practitioners and students. Dr. Levin Fox begins with Feuerstein’s vision and vocabulary as it relates to providing services to autistic children. Professor Reuven Feuerstein, pioneered treatment techniques based on the modifiability of human functioning to address the needs and outcomes of autistic children. Dr. Levin Fox continues with a focus on her main source of intervention with autistic children-play, specifically DIRFloortime. Also included in the theoretical concepts section is the DSM and its impact on the diagnosing of autism.  Collectively, the case studies and theories pave the way for a paradigm shift in the way autistic children and evaluated, diagnosed, and provided intervention.

This book is recommended for clinicians, educators, students, and parents who provide services to autistic children. The case studies provide the lived experience of the clinician and child while the theoretical concepts provide a solid knowledge base to evaluate, diagnose, and provide intervention. With a focus on coaching parents to help them support their child’s development, this book also empowers parents by helping them understand their child’s diagnosis and interventions.

Rating:  4 of out of 4. Highly recommend this book. A major strength of this book are the detailed case studies that are provided. This book can benefit occupational therapy students, instructors, and clinicians looking for case examples to guide evaluation and interventions.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Unputdownable. That’s how I would describe this book. I knew early on that this was more of a YA book, but I went with it. This book revolved around solving the death of a student (Simon) that occurred during detention. The suspects are the other students that were also in detention with Simon. The plot and character development of this book is amazing. Every page could be it’s own story…every page. I will no provide any spoilers. I read the book in a day. Unputdownable.

Rating: 4 out of 4. Highly recommend if you want a quick, fun read. A great YA recommendation as well to get high school students reading!

One of Us is Next Karen M. McManus

With One of Us is Lying being such a gripping novel, I had to read the sequel right after! One of Us is Next follows the same set of characters, with some additional characters to solve another murder in the same town. The plot is just as fast paced as One of Us is Lying, however, the characters were not as multilayered. With One of Us is Lying, each character could carry the book. In this sequel, there were characters that did not seem to belong and the connection were not as sharp as One of Us is Lying. However, still a good read. Just a note that the books must be read in order because there are major spoiler alerts in One of Us is Next from One of Us is Lying.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4. Recommended if you want to follow the characters from One of Us is Lying and want to read another fast-paced mystery.

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