News and notes for 2014 OT Matters

OT student doing research with child
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News and Notes

Larson inducted into AOTA Roster of Fellows

UW–Madison’s Elizabeth Larson, an associate professor in the Occupational Therapy program, was inducted into the Roster of Fellows at the 94th American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) annual conference in Baltimore on April 5, 2014.

Elizabeth Larson
Elizabeth Larson
This award recognizes members of AOTA who with their knowledge and expertise have made a significant contribution to the continuing education and professional development of members of the association.

In nominating Larson for the award, Ruth Benedict, UW–Madison’s OT program director, writes: “Professor Larson has distinguished herself as a scholar, teacher, advocate and practitioner in the field of occupational therapy through her combined expertise in scholarly work and clinical experience. She is committed to improving interventions for caregivers of children with disabilities, their caregivers and families. Her research amplifies the voices of caregivers from culturally diverse groups who have rarely been heard in the past.”

UW–Madison shines at national conference

In addition to Larson’s honor, several faculty and class of 2014 master’s students from UW–Madison’s OT program presented posters at the conference.

They included:

Sharon Gartland, an instructional specialist with the OT program who presented a poster titled, “Coaching for Emerging Occupational Therapy Practice: Evidence for Health, Wellness, and Participation.”

Anne RegoAnne Rego, a master’s student who presented a poster titled, “A Systematic Review: Handheld Computer Devices and Classroom Participation in Children with Disabilities.”

Damari Montgomery, a master’s student who presented a poster titled, “A Systematic Review: Using the Nintendo Wii for Balance Training in Patients With Acquired Brain Injury.”

And Katie Ehlers, a master’s student who presented a poster titled, “Comparing Camps to Peer-Mediated Interventions: Improving the Social Communications of Children with Disabilities.”

UW–Madison’s OT program also hosted its annual alumni reception during the AOTA Conference in Baltimore. Among the OT alums who attended included: Karen Barney from the Class of 1966; Betsy Cohen from the Class of 1974; Helene Dubay and Joanne Zimmerman from the Class of 1975; and Virginia Hunt O’Brien from the Class of 1976.

Students in UW–Madison’s Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program were recognized at the annual AOTA conference with a Gold Circle Award, which goes to programs whose students achieved 100 percent membership within the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Vote paves way for potential new home for OT program

In March, UW–Madison students voted to back a Recreational Sports Master Plan that will significantly upgrade the campus’ heavily used rec sports facilities. The project includes the construction of a new SERF, and two outdoor playing fields over the next eight years.

Artist rendering of the proposed new UW Natatorium
An artist's rendering of the
proposed new Natatorium.
It also includes an entirely new facility at the current Natatorium site. This new Natatorium is to one day house the entire Department of Kinesiology — including the Occupational Therapy program. Currently, most associated with the OT program have offices in the Medical Sciences Center, while the rest of the Department of Kinesiology is in the current Natatorium.

Student fees, which will back most of the Rec Sports Master Plan, will not be used to pay for the proposed east wing of the new Natatorium, which would be the future home of Kinesiology, and OT, on campus. University officials plan to coordinate with the state in acquiring funding to support the academic portion of the new facility. Stay tuned for more details.

Blochwitz earns Classified Staff
Distinguished Achievement award

In April, the School of Education hosted its annual Faculty and Staff Achievement Awards, and the OT program’s Lisa Blochwitz earned the Claire Shaffer Award for Classified Staff Distinguished Achievement.

Blochwitz is an Academic Fieldwork Placement Assistant who coordinates more than 50 fieldwork placements each year for students in the OT master’s program and maintains contacts with more than 100 fieldwork sites across the country.

OT Practice magazine
highlights sensory-friendly dining night

The February edition of OT Practice magazine featured an in-depth article about children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families eating out in public.

Screenshot of OT Practice magazine coverThe story, written by UW–Madison faculty member Karla Ausderau and occupational therapy masters students Malorie Juarez, Katie Bartling, Katie Ehlers, Anne Rego and Tanis Rusin, was headlined: “Let’s go out to eat! Creating a sensory-friendly dining experience for children with ASDs and Their Families.”

The article highlights these occupational therapy students and their partnership with a Madison Culver’s restaurant to create an environment that addresses this issue.

The article notes: “A variety of stimuli can impact eating behaviors for children with ASDs as they struggle with sensory modulation and the inability to either inhibit or respond to extraneous stimuli appropriately. The multisensory atmosphere in restaurants is often noisy, bright, visually stimulating, and can be generally overwhelming for the child with ASDs. The unpredictability of the environmental stimulation in community dining makes it difficult for the family to establish routines and enjoy a meal outside of the home.”

From this, the Culver’s ASD night has become a recurring community event due to its success and the backing of those within UW–Madison’s OT program.
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