I think I was born an occupational therapist. I seem to have so many examples from my childhood and adolescence that reflect my values of being engaged both physically and socially, creativity, problem-solving, curiosity and a desire to help other people learn or have a good time, or both!
One of my favorite memories is of a film project a good friend and I initiated with a bunch of neighborhood kids one summer. I was probably in 7th or 8th grade, and the long summer, delightful as it was, was wearing on us. My solution was to make a movie entitled “Curing Summer Boredom in Seven Easy Lessons.” We filmed ourselves playing tennis, and titled it “Lesson 1: Attend the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament,” and it went on in similar fashion from there…very occupational!
In 9th grade, my Quantitative Physical Science project, completed with two friends, was not the simple demonstration of condensation or the effects of gravity that others chose – no, we built a planetarium out of refrigerator boxes, big enough for 3 or 4 people to sit inside, and used white Christmas lights to create a correctly scaled (we thought) version of the night sky for our part of the country at that time of year.
And my 10th grade English project on Shakespeare and his play “Julius Caesar” was not one of the (many) models of the Globe Theater built by classmates, but rather was a chariot built by my best friend (who is now also an OT) and me. We researched the times of Julius Caesar, found out about what people did then, and chose to take people on chariot rides around the high school track. (Of course, my father had to remove the sliding glass door from our basement to get the chariot out after we built it…details, details!)
Adolf Meyer, a physician and early supporter of “occupation therapy” once said of the profession, “It takes rare gifts and talents and rare personalities to be real pathfinders in this work. There are no royal roads; it is all a problem of being true to one’s nature and opportunities and of teaching others to do the same with themselves” (Meyer, 1922). Every day I have reason to see how true that is, and be inspired to work with my clients and students in a way that opens them to various ways of thinking, doing, and being. I also consistently have reason to be delighted and thankful that my nature and opportunities have led me to be an occupational therapist, a teacher, a mentor, and an occupational scientist, and to do all that at UNC-Chapel Hill!
OCCT 748: Fundamentals of Occupation-Centered Practice
OCCT 752: Occupation-Based Practice III: Children
My research and clinical interests center around young children with disabilities, particularly autism, and their families. In particular, I’m interested in the ways in which parents, siblings, and peers contribute to the development of occupation and social engagement of young children with autism, and how intervention that supports reciprocity and other responsive behaviors in parents, siblings and peers may be used to support the development of occupation and social engagement for those children.
My current role as Intervention Coordinator for an autism intervention grant project (The Early Development Project-2, funded by IES) allows me to merge my clinical and research interests, and to participate in the type of translational research that I believe is of the utmost importance for people with autism and their families, and for the larger scientific community focused on autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities.
Wakeford, L. & Baranek, G.T. (2011). Chapter 68: Occupational Therapy. In D.G. Amaral, G. Dawson, & D.H. Geschwind (Eds.). Autism Spectrum Disorders. New York, Oxford University Press.
Sekerak, D.M., Wakeford, L., Cochran, K.M., & Alexander, J.J. (2009). Interprofessional training in telehealth technologies for service delivery and development of rural communities of practice. In Royeen, C.B., Jenson, G.M. & Harvan, R.A. (eds.). Leadership in Interprofessional Health Education and Practice, pp.329-345; Jones and Bartlett: Sudbury, MA.
Baranek, G., Wakeford, L., & David, F. (2008). Understanding, assessing, and treating sensory-motor issues in young children with autism. In Chawarska, K., Volkmar, F., & Klin, A. (eds.) Autism Spectrum Disorders in Infancy and Early Childhood; Guilford Press.
Kern, P. & Wakeford, L. (2007) Supporting Outdoor Play for Young Children: The Zone Model of Playground Supervision, Young Children, 62, 12-18.
Kern, P., Wakeford, L., & Aldridge, D. (2007). Improving the performance of a young child with autism during self-care tasks using embedded song Interventions: A case study. Music Therapy Perspectives, 25 (1), 43-51
Humphry, R. & Wakeford, L. (2006). An occupation-centered discussion of development and implications for practice. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 60, 258-267.
Wakeford,L., Wittman, P., White, M., & Schmeler M. (2005). Telerehabilitation Position Paper: American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 59, 656-660.
Alexander, J. & Wakeford, L. (2005). Occupational Therapy. In Osborn, L., Dewitt, T. & Lewis, F. (eds.) Comprehensive Pediatrics, pp. 1952-54; Mosby, St. Louis.
Phillips, C. & Wakeford, L. (2003). OT at Camp: A Natural Opportunity for Integrated Therapy. OT Practice, 8 (7), 23-32.
Wakeford, L. (2002). Using Telehealth Technology to Provide Services to Children with Special Needs. OT Practice, 7 (21), 12-16.