Hey readers! This week I am featuring Emily Idemoto, an OTD student and one of my classmates! She recently traveled to AOTA Conference and had a really cool experience where she was able to help present research that she has been assisting with. She also loves rock climbing and has great experience working with children with disabilities. Let’s learn more about Emily!
Hello! My name is Emily and I am about to complete my first year in the OTD program at MGH Institute of Health Professions. My experiences for many years were a mix of special needs summer camps, early intervention programs, youth program services, and before starting the grad school process, I was working at a non-profit that provides respite care for children with disabilities and their families. It’s been a real journey making my way toward occupational therapy. While I am grateful being here, I am also so grateful to have had so many opportunities beforehand to cultivate relationships with and learn from children and families with so many unique and varied stories. I hope to continue to serve them through the lens and skills OT offers 😊
Why did you decide to become an OT?
I have been working with children and adults with developmental disabilities for as long as I can remember. A close family friend, who was an occupational therapist herself, started a day program for adults with special needs. When she passed away, a close group of friends, including my parents, stepped up to continue running and supporting this program. The other kids and I would volunteer often. I am thankful for the community she created because experiences here built a foundation for many different experiences learning from those with disabilities and discovering what a necessary diverse perspective they bring to the table. I knew for a long time that I wanted my career to involve helping others and that disability rights and advocacy is something I care about a lot. I chose OT because of its holistic perspective grounded in evidence- based practice and because it is a field that calls for creative and engaging solutions for diverse populations.
What are you most passionate about in the world of OT?
What is most inspiring and encouraging to me about OT is the incredible people I have met through school, work, and conferences who have used their therapeutic lens and skills to step up and create lasting change in areas of need and advocacy. The systems we work within don’t always serve the people that most need it, but OT is grounded in the belief that all deserve access to what is meaningful. While I remain open to where I will go in my career as an OT, this concept is what I am most passionate about maintaining at the center of whatever I end up doing.
What is occupational balance to you, and how do you maintain it?
I love that this is such an important concept in OT, it has changed how I view my role as a student, future clinician and one who seeks to serve others. Practice what you preach right? To me, occupational balance means being intentional and honest with myself about what are the meaningful occupations in my life and what it means to do them well and enjoy them. This is so tricky because I want to do it all! What I’ve come to learn is that there will always be ways to help others and opportunities knocking at every door, but that I become a hypocrite and only do a disservice if I am showing up and pouring into others from an empty cup. I am learning to set boundaries, find supportive and intentional people who I set aside time to connect with, and say yes to activities that are good for me (without guilt!). This is definitely a lifelong learning process. This past year, climbing has become a crucial part of intentional occupational balance. I have a community that regularly goes climbing together and we support one another as we conquer challenges and get stronger.
Fun Facts About Emily
Currently, I work with an occupational therapist who is the program director at the UMass Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. I have been helping with a video coding system that aids in research on caregiver interactions with children with complex neurodevelopmental presentations and some of this material was/is being presented at AOTA Conference and at early intervention conferences around the country. It has been exciting and challenging and I am grateful to be learning from an OT who epitomizes so many of the great things that OTs can be!
Thanks for reading!