Occupational Therapist

I am E'Beth Watts an Occupational Therapist and Assistive Technology Coordinator for New Kent County Public Schools. I am based at George Watkins Elementary School and also provide services at New Kent Middle School and New Kent High School. 

I have been with New Kent County Public Schools since 2004.  I have worked in public school settings since 1994 and prior to that I worked with children with medical and psychological needs at a local residential hospital.  

I graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University ~ Medical College of Virginia School of Allied Health - Occupational Therapy, in 1983.

Why I like working with children an
d my job....                 

My OT testimony

I am an Occupational Therapist (OT)...OT is part of who I am.  As an OT so much of what I learned in college and through my OT experience shapes my everyday thinking with my children, family, friends, and community.  

As a child, I knew I wanted to work with children and I wanted to do something that would help people.  I have always preferred to solve a problem rather than get stuck on a problem.  These attributes guided me to become an OT and working with children in the school setting.  So, now 30 plus years later, I can still say I love being an occupational therapist.

Although  OT is dynamic and always changing, it still holds true to its fundamental core, treating the whole person in order to encourage functionality, independence and a better quality of life.  My job, no matter what setting I work in allows me to help people.  Whether it is getting a child to tolerate a sensory input without a meltdown, a school-aged child to write, a teenager to self regulate behavior, a teacher to understand and support sensory or writing accommodations of a student, or a consultation with a parent, I get to make a difference.  As an OT, I get to connect with people, have fun and help them find a confidence they didn't know they had.

As a pediatric OT, I often say I get paid to play because a child's occupation is "play", so what better way to integrate treatment than through play.  This means that treatment planning and the carryout are time consuming, individualized, and utilize a lot of energy.  I may have an obstacle course set up for the day, but with each child it is designed to their interests and developmental needs.  For one child it may be a pirate treasure hunt, while for another it is the path to saving a lost pet.  I may use games or crafts to facilitate development of motor strength, endurance, or coordination; or to develop visual perceptual skills.  Sometimes it's the game itself and other times the position we play the game in that addresses the needs of the child.  For children to be willing to "work" and be successful, OT needs to fun and creative. 

Being an OT has allowed me to develop into a problem solver.  Whether I am  working with children or adults, I am always thinking, trying to adapt the environment, utilize a tool, or come up with a way to help someone be successful.  In turn, I am always learning.  Although my education was a basis of knowledge, learning continues to take place with new treatment ideas, modalities, diagnoses, and perspectives.  With the use of technology, I have found that it is easier to continue the learning process with greater ease. 

Occupational therapists help people, but truthfully, we are one piece of the puzzle.  I am a team player, and the team is always changing.  Whether I am in the elementary, middle or high school, the team members are different.   However, I know I am making a difference, but my minutes a week, or minutes a month is not the component leading to the gains, growth and success for the children I work with.  It is all the pieces coming together and connecting for the child. No matter how creative, fun, and dynamic my treatments are, a child will not be successful without everyone else on his or her team.  For this reason often my OT services are provided within the student's classroom to facilitate use of skills and accommodations daily, rather than just in a therapy session.

In turn, this leads me to the most important skill I use...therapeutic use of self, in common words "connection".  As a therapist, I know that I have to connect with the student, families, and teachers where they are.  I need to know what is important to them, not me.  And I need to make that the cornerstone of OT intervention.  It keeps the students wanting to work with OT.  I let the students know that there is no right or wrong performance during OT as long as they are trying their best and being respectful.


The Starfish

There was a young man walking down a deserted beach just before dawn.  

In the distance he saw a frail old man.  As he approached the old man, he saw him picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the sea.  

The young man gazed in wonder as the old man again and again threw the small starfish from the sand to the water.  

He asked, "Old man, why do you spend so much energy doing what seems to be a waste of time?"  

The old man explained that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun.  

"But there must be thousands of beaches and millions of starfish!" exclaimed the young man.  "How can you make any difference?"  

The old man looked down at the small starfish in his hand and as he threw it to the safety of the sea, he said, "I make a difference to this one."   

by Irv Furman, May 1989

My usual schedule is to be at George Watkins Elementary School on Mondays through Wednesdays and New Kent Middle School Thursdays and Friday.  Often students, parents, teachers, and the weather will require me to adjust my schedule.  This is why I say my usual schedule is.  

At any day I can be reached by email at elambert-watts@nkcps.k12.va.us 

 "Some people are worth melting for."

All pictures from web searches via Google.