Victoria Babikian, an occupational therapist from New York, has been working with children and adults with special needs for the past three years. Her visit to Armenia in 2011 as part of FAR’s Young Professionals Trip made her realize that she wanted to do something to give back to the nation of her roots.
Earlier this month she returned to Armenia, this time with the goal of helping occupational therapists in Armenia to advance their skills when it comes to working with children with special needs.
Her in-depth training for occupational therapists, in addition to pedagogues and caregivers from different organizations, schools, and day-care centers emphasized the important role occupational therapy has in developing motor and life skills for children with special needs so that they can become independent in their daily activities. More than 20 people attended the one-day course, which was held in early October at FAR’s Yerevan office.
“My goal was to push for this holistic approach of seeing an issue from a different perspective. If it’s an issue with the person’s skills that’s something we can strengthen, or if it’s an issue with an environment not being appropriate for them, then it needs to be changed. Alternatively, maybe, it’s the activity that is too difficult or should be done in a different way,” she said. “So rather than just thinking at once they can’t do it and that’s it, to think: what is the specific issue and how can we make this person as independent as possible?” she said. The training included different examples and scenarios OTs could use to work with children in a more functional way.
Ms. Babikian’s previously produced “Occupational Therapy Guidebook for Inclusion” is currently being translated into Armenian. She also hopes to conduct more practical trainings in the future.