OT student doing research with child


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Occupational Therapy
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Preceptor of the Year
Laura Flood, Occupational Therapist, Edgerton School District

Flood graduated as a non-traditional adult student from UW-Madison with a B.S. in OT in December of 1994. She started her career at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison, in inpatient pediatrics and psychiatry, and in the Dean/St. Mary's outpatient pediatric assessment clinics. She has been a school-based occupational therapist for Edgerton School District since 1997. In 2008, she achieved her career goal of completing the Comprehensive Program in Sensory Integration, certified to administer the S.I.P.T.

“I had a great Level II fieldwork supervisor in Barb Kopp at St. Mary’s in Psych, experiencing her helping me explore my ‘clinical reasoning’ skills, rather than just teaching me hers. She helped me become independent and confident. So I take students because it gives me great satisfaction to help them discover the therapeutic use of SELF that is unique to each occupational therapist. I want a student to take the theories and knowledge, and to develop a style and rapport that is uniquely her/his own, not a clone of me. To be part of that process is very rewarding.”

Student Scholarship and Award Winners

Mildred Averill Scholarship - Laura Hewitt and Vanessa Shirley
Amelia E. H. Doyon Scholarship - Jessica Andrae
Jean Chapman Kiernat Award - Jessica Andrae 
Elizabeth Roughton Memorial Award -Miriam Adkins 
Caroline G. Thompson Scholarship -Rebecca Swanke, Miriam Adkins
Caroline G. Thompson Distinguished Graduate Fellowship - Julie Hunley, Yeojin Choi
Lucile Schreiber and Wendel A. Witkay Scholarship - Josh Hedrich, Jenn Lehto

Mary’s Merits

Prof. Mary Schneider speaks and works passionately in defense of children and adults with mild neurological disorders rooted in moderate drinking or exposure to mild stress by pregnant mothers.

The American Occupational Therapy Association commended her passion with the prestigious 2010 A. Jean Ayres Award. The National Institutes of Health also recently presented her with a $200,000 grant to take the next step in her award-winning research on rhesus monkeys.

Schneider’s interest in the prenatal effects of alcohol or stress on long-term neurological disorders began when she was an OT clinician in schools helping children with ADHD and sensory processing disorders.

“I’m really interested in prevention and intervention. And if you want to prevent a disorder, you have to know what caused it and understand the underlying mechanisms,” Schneider said. “So I went back (to graduate school) not only to start looking at what caused it, but what is the underlying biology for some of these kids who are unsuccessful in school.”

Schneider found in a primate model that subtle neurological changes from moderate alcohol or stress exposure during the prenatal period can have long-term effects on the brain’s neurotransmitter systems and that those effects can be detrimental to sensory processing throughout life.

“Primate models are critical for this type of research because these questions cannot be answered in human studies due to practical constraints,” Schneider said.

Alcohol exposure in utero can reset neurotransmitters and results in long-term change, as can be seen in people with ADHD, she said. “So, we kind of know this, but we haven’t really said it out loud, or proved it with a controlled primate study.”

The next step in her research will be to find out whether changes in neurotransmitters or in brain function, that she demonstrated to be associated with sensory processing, cognitive, stress and other disorders in primates, will impact adult alcohol consumption.

“I’m trying to see if some of these early risk factors will make these subjects more prone to substance abuse,” she said. “Because (alcoholism is) such a big problem in our society.”

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