SHARON, Mass. – Lisa Shooman holds a master’s degree in occupational therapy from Columbia University and advanced certification in sensory integration and applied behavior analysis. She works in private practice as a behavioral support specialist, occupational therapist and low-vision therapist for adults and children.
Q: What drew you to this work? Why did you get involved in this work?
A: I learned about occupational therapy when I was in high school at a women’s-only career day. I met an occupational therapist and a mother who shared how she successfully merged her home and work life
Q: What’s the most meaningful part of the work for you? Most frustrating?
A: Occupational therapy enables people to perform daily tasks that they are having trouble doing. Occupational therapists help people gain skills for the job of living. Knowing that I can “change the world” for the people I serve is most meaningful. I may work with a senior with low-vision who learns to live independently or a young child who succeeds in school because his teachers understand how to adapt the classroom for him. Being an occupational therapist is very rewarding; the most frustrating part of my business is insurance billing. I have to deal with the red tape of the insurance companies, which can be very frustrating.
Q: What’s the best professional advice you’ve ever been given or given to someone else?
A: The best advice that I’ve been given is that I don’t have to do it all. My best advice to others: Do what you enjoy and what comes naturally to you.
Q: How do your Jewish values influence or inform the work you do?
A: Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” I try to apply this concept in all that I do.
Q: If you weren’t doing this work, what would you be doing?
A: My secret passion is public speaking and writing. I used to give speeches on the Holocaust when I was in middle and high school. My mother is a Holocaust survivor and I wanted to educate my classmates about her experiences. In high school, I wrote a play that students performed. I also wrote for my college school newspaper; after that, marriage, family and occupational therapy take most of my time. But I’m finding a way to integrate my professional life with my personal passions. Last year, I wrote, “The GraspRite Method: The Quick and Easy Guide to Helping Your Child Develop the Essential Fine and Gross Motor Skills Every Elementary Schooler Needs” (Golden Bird Publishing, December 2012). Earlier ths year, I was invited to give a workshop by the R.I. Occupational Therapy Association. In the future, I hope to write more and provide more workshops to help each child flourish.
Lisa Shooman (firstname.lastname@example.org) lives in Sharon, Mass.