Occupational Therapist improves children’s lives in China

Cumbrian Occupational Therapist (OT) Liz Anderson has been supporting children with special needs in China by volunteering at a kindergarten and an adult support centre there.

Whilst there she shared her OT knowledge and experience with teachers and parents and developed what little OT information is available in the country.

Liz is a Senior OT for Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) in Whitehaven and has been a children’s OT for 12 years.

Liz said on her experience in China:

“Many children with special needs are not always accepted into educational establishments in China, however the Kindergarten I was based at is working hard to promote inclusive education. This has resulted in attitudes beginning to change and children with special needs are beginning to be accepted into primary school settings. 

“It was exciting to be involved in a small part of this process by educating and teaching parents and teachers about how to help children with special needs to be included and meet their full potential within the classroom and at home. This was a great opportunity to promote the role and value of Occupational Therapy in a country that does not have any OT service.”

Liz spent one month in China and was involved in assessing and treating children with various conditions including Autistic Spectrum condition, Cerebral Palsy and Down’s Syndrome.

She had the opportunity to provide training to the teachers and parents of children and young adults with special needs and was also involved with interventions on sensory processing difficulties and developing hand writing skills, these strategies which she provided have continued to be used since her return to the UK.

Whilst in China Liz also carried out home visits, she said:

“Travelling to home visits on the back of an electric bike was definitely exciting and at times a scary experience but it has not put me off looking at going back out to do more work in this amazing country in the near future”.

The time Liz spent volunteering has had a positive impact on her work in the UK too, she said:

“I have grown more in confidence providing training and explaining the role of the OT to larger groups of people. This has also made me more aware of how to communicate complex OT interventions and make it relevant to people from different cultural backgrounds.  It was also a different experience doing teaching through a translator and being able to explain about OT in a clear a concise way so people could understand.  

“I continue to be in contact with the teachers and some of the parents I worked with and I am planning to send them further advice about treatment ideas and programmes for specific children I worked with.”