Meet the team – Louise Kennedy – Occupational Therapist
Hi Louise, what’s your role at Early Links and what does it involve?
Hi, I’m an Occupational Therapist based in Muswellbrook. I work with families as a therapist or Key Worker (helping coordinate other therapists) in the Upper Hunter. Some areas we assist with are sleeping, toileting, attention span, playing and building social skills.
The children may have Autism spectrum disorder, ADHD or other conditions and can have quite short attention spans. I work with them to increase their ability to focus so they can engage in settings like classrooms and complete other tasks.
I also do assessments. These may include children displaying disruptive behaviour in classroom settings. A physical assessment might uncover a muscular issue, or we might find a sensory issue such as being bothered by light or sound. It could even be the feel of their clothing. Something like this might be taking up all of their energy and causing disruptive behaviour. Once we know the cause we’re halfway there. We can then find strategies to help them overcome the problem and help them do what they want to do. It’s very individualised.
How long have you been with Early Links?
I’ve been with Early Links since the 20th January this year after finishing my Occupational Therapy degree last year. Before that, I was working as a Support Worker and also raising a family!
What do you enjoy most about Occupational Therapy?
Probably the diversity because every day is completely different from the day before. Even if I’m working with the same children, we’re always looking at how to move forward and finding strategies that work for them.
I also love the fact that I’m not confined to sticking with the same thing. I can be a bit creative and try something new. For example, the other day I was working with a family that I’ve been trying to connect with for a while. With everything going on in the world at the moment with covid, it’s been hard to engage with them as much as I’d like but we finally managed to meet up and have a music session. I’m not a music teacher but music is what really floats this kid’s boat and so we just had a bash and started dancing around and he absolutely loved it! I was so pleased because he really wants to come back now and fingers crossed that continues. It was so much fun.
What’s one way that Occupational Therapists can support clients that not many people are aware of?
I think some people’s experience of Occupational Therapist s is quite narrow because an OT might have helped them with something specific like motor skills or riding a bike and so they then think, ‘Oh, so that’s what OTs do’. But we can help people in lots of different ways.
What do you find most rewarding about your role?
Oh, I guess it would be seeing kids have fun and seeing them do something that makes them proud. Seeing them growing and achieving things that they didn’t think they could. Sometimes just encouraging kids to have a go is almost like giving them permission to live their lives.
Would you recommend working at Early Links to other Occupational Therapy new grads?
Definitely. The thing that drew me to Early Links was working closely with the other disciplines like the Speech Pathologists, Psychologists, Physiotherapists and Teachers and being able to work as a team. This way we can come up with lots of different ways to support families. We can work out between us who’s going to support them in one way and who’s going to help in other ways. From a professional point of view that really appealed to me because it’s how you get great results.
I’d recommend working as a Support Worker to anyone who’s studying as the experience really helped me with my degree and to get a job once I’d finished. If you work at Early Links as a DSW (disability support worker), it’s a great foot in the door for when you graduate.