Recently I met someone who has just completed her Shiur Leumi or National Service in place of going into the Army / IDF. I asked her in what kind of facility she did her National Service, to which she responded to a special type of boarding school for children who have been taken away from their families due to abuse, neglect or other major problems in the home. She asked if I knew of such places. I said that I had as I am an occupational therapist (OT). I mentioned that as a student I had a clinical placement in a place of safety and said it sounded very much like the kind of place she was describing. I then asked her if she knew what OT is and whether any of the students had received OT. The response was very sad for me to hear.
This young lady said she had an idea what OT is. She said that some of the children received either art therapy, music therapy or pet therapy but those who received therapy were permitted one type only. None of them received OT due to budget restraints. I asked if the art therapy, music therapy and pet therapy helped. She responded that she did see a benefit but that it was not enough and not to all the children were able to go for therapy due to limitations of funding.
I asked what she thought the best situation would be and how it compared to what they currently received. Sadly, she shared that she truly felt that most of the children if not all could benefit from OT intervention. She said that what she sees happening is that instead of providing necessary therapeutic intervention the children are heavily medicated in order to control their behaviour. This makes me realize once again the need for the book that I am preparing to launch. However, aside from educating on the benefits of occupational therapy I wonder what else can help this kind of situation. Is the issue lack of awareness of what OT can offer or is it purely a funding issue. If funding is the problem, will educating philanthropists or government organizations help?
What are your thoughts? What can be done to enable those who could benefit from necessary therapeutic intervention to be able to receive these services instead of resorting to medication with all the unhealthy side-effects that goes with most if not all meds? Of course, I am not talking of those who require medication as well as therapeutic intervention, I am talking of the problem or using medication instead of offering services that could alleviate the problems that the children are facing.
If you have a constructive thought to share please comment below. If you are willing to share a post about my book that is about to come out to help to spread the word and promote occupational therapy, please do be in touch.