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Occupational Therapy Student Intern Blog Reflections


Ilana Tzur, CUNY York College

November 10, 2020

I graduated high school in Israel, and a month later, I joined a military service for 22 months. I had many ideas about my future professional career, but instead, I got married at 20 and became a mom at 21.

I had to do something, I needed a job, and I went to study accounting. I worked in accounting for 3.5 years, but didn’t really like my job. In 2003 I moved to the US due to my mom’s illness; I also ended my marriage in Israel. It was a new beginning.

A couple of years later, I remarried, and I was expecting to be a mom again. When my baby was about 12 months old, I noticed something was different about him; he never looked at me and never turned his head when I called his name. He was evaluated and was eligible for 15 hours a week of early intervention services, including special education teacher, occupational, and speech therapy.

A year later, he was diagnosed with a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), which is considered Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) today according to DSM V.

My son Maor inspired me to dig into the world of Occupational Therapy. I wanted to help him and other kids and parents, so I started studying Occupational Therapy at the age of 36. I always enjoyed helping people, so the choice of profession felt natural to me. Now I am attending CUNY York College to study Occupational Therapy. It is difficult to balance my obligations to school and to my family, but I am working hard. 

I started my fieldwork at Afya at the end of August. I noticed a 20 year old volunteer who was not making any eye contact while trying to engage in simple communication and was not talking to people around him. After about four weeks in Afya, while working with an occupational therapist, he greeted new volunteers in the morning, took their temperature, and helped them sign in on daily sheet attendance.

The victory of overcoming social anxiety and strengthening interpersonal skills is the key for that volunteer to find employment and hold a job in the future.

The best part of Afya is observing how individuals with different mental impairments can learn valuable skills in the natural environment and apply themselves to helping communities. It is priceless! Working at Afya helped me enforce my critical thinking, apply creative approach in any situation and work in collaboration with a team of individuals whether its volunteers, students or other professionals.

At Afya, I learned that everyone can succeed when given the opportunity.