Mary Read from Take Part Occupational Therapy Ltd offers some handy learning tips for therapists becoming familiar with the Model of Human Occupation. She highlights these ideas using a new piece of Southpaw equipment to help meet your clients’ needs.
That’s just a fluffy blanket, isn’t it?
Lilly ( not her real name and not the girl in this photo) knows that the Mohu Cover is indeed a fluffy blanket. She is also finding out that there are some other helpful things that it offers her. Lilly has had a very difficult start in life. She now lives with kind and caring foster parents. She has settled well, but there are times when everything gets too much for her. At times like this, she can either become very withdrawn and not speak or she may become very vocal indeed.
How do touch sensation and weight help Lilly?
The human brain has a way of “logging” painful and traumatic memories. It does this for a reason -so we can learn how to try and avoid pain in the future or if we can, try to fight it. This is true for emotional bad memories too. We can have triggers that unlock that painful memory or experience- if this happens the body can go into overdrive. Sometimes we may actually shut down as a way of protecting ourselves. Remember, Lilly may shout and scream, or she may go too quiet.
Touch can be a calming thing – we may like to stroke the cat to relax. Lilly is Ok with touch if she feels in control of it. She likes the feel of the beautiful fabrics on the 9 different Mohu patches and likes to be able to choose which ones to attach to her Mohu cover blanket. Her favorite one is the animal print, and she takes this to school on the bus. It fits in her school bag and she can give it a stroke any time.
Weight can be calming for her too . She likes the small weighted blanket being put inside the cover to make it heavier. Lilly needs to be in control of any weight being put on her. No surprises please, she will pull it over herself when she feels ready. Sometimes she likes to go right under it.
Sitting quietly with the weighted cover, Lilly and her foster mum are now beginning to make up stories together based on each of the different fabrics – one is the sea, one is a forest.
Wasn’t the title of this blog something about MOHO?
Yes, sorry. Actually, I’ve just done this thing with Mohu and MOHO because I couldn’t resist it.
MOHO stands for the Model of Human Occupation. A model is a useful way of looking at things giving us a tool for putting theory and practice together. MOHO was first brought about by Dr Gary Kielhofner in the mid 70s and has been developed and expanded by many other contributors since then.
In its simplest form , MOHO looks at how humans are occupational beings ( they like to do stuff) Our whole lives are about the occupations we do – a healthy and happy person has many multiple activities and tasks throughout their lives. We need to be motivated, have patterns and routines to do things and have the skills needed to do them. The places we are in ( environment) makes a huge difference too.
When things disrupt us ( illness, trauma, disability etc) it can impact any or all of these areas ( motivation – role and routines- performance skills – our environments. MOHO has a really good look at all of these components to see how the person can best develop themselves as occupational beings again.
So could MOHO and the Mohu Cover Blanket help us understand Lilly a bit better?
Motivation ( Volition) – Lilly wants to get on with her life, have fun and be like every other little girl her age.Having the calming fabrics help her get on with life, such as managing the school bus
Patterns and Roles– Lilly needs routines to help her feel safe and organised. The blanket with weights help her calm before bedtime, especially when she makes up stories with her foster mum
Skills and performance – Lilly is a bright and active little girl. She has missed some of those early things that most small children learn such as using a pencil and scissors, riding a bike, eating with a knife an fork. The weighted blanket and soft fabrics bring her to a place where she is calm and regulated, in a good place emotionally for catching up with those skills.
Environment – Lilly is happier in her new home. She likes the way she is able to be accepted for who she is, make mistakes and learn because she feels safer. This is changing things for her. The Mohu blanket is part of her new home – it’s in her room. She can now start to develop and make the best of her life and the opportunities it brings her.
Mary Read is a specialist paediatric occupational therapist who works with children and young people in schools and community settings. She is a qualified sensory integration (SI) practitioner currently on SI module 4 working towards completing the advanced SI practitioner training.