COT Student Conference 2009

•May 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

It has taken me quite some time to add a reflection about the the College of Occupational Therapists (COT) Student Conference 2009 at Sheffield Hallam on April 25th, which I attended to deliver a presentation with a close colleague of mine (please see COT Student Conference 2009 page on this blog).  I attended the lectures given by various practitioners, educators and researchers at the conference too.  

I have not had a lot of free time recently, but I have some spare moments now for engaging in a valued creative occupation of mine, which is reflective writing.

A significant experience that day was the volume of professional networking that I was able to do with the various practitioners, students, researchers and educators who participated in the conference.

A marker event was my conversation with a colleague from COT.  My colleague made an interesting point about occupational science and how she feels that individuals in both the occupational therapy and occupational science communities should consider carefully whether to retain occupational science as a discipline that exclusively informs occupational therapy practice or allow occupational science to become a ‘stand-alone’ science.  There is evidence of debate about this topic in the occupational science literature (Lunt 1997; Mounter and Llott 1997).

I feel that occupational science should remain exclusive to occupational therapy because it informs occupational therapy practice and then has a similar status in academia to nursing science or social policy.  My opinion is that occupational science is discipline that informs occupational therapy practice – providing a greater evidence base for occupational therapy.

A further marker event was discussing the psychological theory of flow (Csikszentmihalyi 2002) with Dr Frances Reynolds, a reader at Brunel University, London who has made many contributions to the evidence base of occupational therapy and occupational science on the subject of engagement and participation in creative occupations by individuals with disabilities and long-term/chronic conditions (Reynolds 2004; Reynolds and Prior 2006; Reynolds 1997).

I enjoyed hearing her thoughts on flow and she commented that the theory of flow is quite an obscure theory, because there have been researchers who have tried to quantifiably measure flow, and they have failed to devise a workable measure thus providing tangible evidence of this psychological state.  Dr Frances Reynolds further commented that she has observed and documented flow states in one of her research studies (Reynolds and Prior 2006).

I think the learning I have gained from the conference has encouraged me to pursue a research career at some point.  My action plan is to undertake an occupational science based PhD at some point in the near future focussing on a topic related to occupation, health and well-being incorporating an exploration of flow states.

I would like to hear comments from other individuals in the occupational therapy and occupational science community on the future path occupational science should take – should it remain exclusive to occupational therapy or become a ‘stand-alone’ science?

Thank you for reading this blog post and I duly invite you to make some comments on my reflections.  I look forwarding to reading them.

Warm Regards

Ryan 🙂


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2002) Flow: The classic work on how to achieve happiness. London: Rider.

Lunt, A. (1997) Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy: Negotiating the Boundary between a Discipline and a Profession. Journal of Occupational Science: Australia, 4(2), pp.56-61.

Mounter, C. and Llott, I. (1997) Occupational Science: a Journey of Discovery in the United Kingdom. Journal of Occupational Science: Australia, 4(2), pp.50-55.

Reynolds, F. and Prior, S. (2006) Creative Adventures and Flow in Art-Making: a Qualitative Study of Women Living with Cancer. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(6), pp.255-262.

Reynolds, F. (2004) Textile Art Promoting Well-being in Long-term Illness: Some General and Specific Influences. Journal of Occupational Science, 11(2), pp.58-67.

Reynolds, F. (1997) Coping with Chronic Illness and Disability through Creative Needlecraft. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 60(8), pp.352-356.






















A Is For Autism

•April 18, 2009 • 2 Comments

This is my first entry on the blog section of this blog and so I thought I would use it to tell you about a training day I attended on Wednesday 15th of April in Rochdale. I am currently a trainee citizen advocate for a local citizen advocacy organisation.  I am undertaking a lot of training courses at the moment as part of my training for the role of citizen advocate and I am hoping to be paired with an individual with Asperger syndrome.

The second training course I attended on Wednesday 15th of April was named ‘Autism and Advocacy Awareness’ and was delivered by a representative from the National Autistic Society (NAS).

The marker event (Supyk and McKenna 2006) in this training for me personally was a DVD that the representative showed called ‘A is for Autism’ (Fine Take Productions and Channel 4 Television Corporation 1992).

“This award winning animation is a series of short glimpses into the condition of autism, all contributed by people with autism. The narrative is also by people with autism on their thoughts and feelings, offering an insight into the problems and pleasures of the many people with autism who are not able to communicate.” (National Autistic Society 2008, p.23).

If you would like to watch the animation, please click the link in the widget panel 🙂

I thought this animation was amazing and very well put together. I was particularly pleased that the contributors were all individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) (Wing 1996). I felt that the attention to detail in some of the pictures was remarkable. Individuals with ASDs also produced the music that accompanied the animation and I felt that was all very well composed.

The conclusions I drew from seeing the animation were that individuals with ASDs and Asperger syndrome do like to engage in creative occupations to communicate their feelings and emotions. Furthermore, it seems that individuals with ASDs may also use creative occupations as a coping strategy to deal with strong feelings and thoughts.

It was evident that the individuals who had contributed to the animation either with music or artwork had done so because these occupations had meaning and purpose for them and they obviously felt that it was an alternative way to convey how they were feeling, especially if they may have communicative problems implying a purpose and perhaps meaning in terms of the value of communication.

It can be further concluded that perhaps during the production of artwork and musical compositions the individuals may have entered flow states (Csikszentmihalyi 2002), giving the individuals a great sense of wellbeing and mastery. The representative from the NAS commented that one individual was known to produce several pieces of detailed artwork within a few short minutes and that the process of production was a repetitive act for some of the contributors. This implies that perhaps to maintain a sense of wellbeing and mastery the individuals had to keep entering flow states by continually producing work. Another important point to add is that a feature of ASDs can be a specialised interest in one particular subject thus many of the contributions depicted a specialised interested. Some of these interests included trains and even street lighting.

I think I need to continue studying the area of creative occupations and their link to health and wellbeing in individuals with ASDs, specifically Asperger syndrome to understand the meaning and purpose of these occupations for such individuals and how they induce a sense of wellbeing and mastery through flow experiences.

I would welcome comments on this reflective account and I hope you enjoyed reading and learning from it.

Best wishes

Ryan 🙂


A IS FOR AUTISM (1992) Produced by Dick Arnall and directed by Tim Webb. 11 min. Fine Take Productions and Channel 4 Television Corporation. Digital Versatile Disc.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2002) Flow: The classic work on how to achieve happiness. London: Rider.

NAS (2008) Tried, tested and trusted: books and resources from The National Autistic Society. London: National Autistic Society.

Supyk, J. and McKenna, J. (2006) Using Problem Based Methodology to Develop Reflection as a Core Skill for Undergraduate Students. The International Journal of Learning, 12(6), pp.255-258.

Wing, L. (1996) The Autistic Spectrum. London: Constable & Robinson Ltd.