Occupational Therapy Speaks Mini-Blog Series Part 5: Dr. Linda Speaks!

Hello, friends! Happy Saturday! The end of Occupational Therapy Month is here, so to conclude this month, I have a special treat for y’all! Today is DOUBLE FEATURE SATURDAY! The final two interviews will be featuring two of my favorite occupational therapists making big moves in the field! First, my new friend and fellow African sister, Dr. Linda, will be joining us today. I met her through mutual connections from my current school. She is such an energetic, kind soul with so much passion for the field. I am also always rooting for fellow Africans killing it in and diversifying OT, so I am so honored to feature her today on the blog!

IreneWhat is your name? Give us a quick synopsis of who YOU ARE!

Dr. Linda: Blessings everyone, I am Dr. Linda Sadiki Materu, a pediatric occupational therapist currently working at an outpatient clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. I am Tanzanian-American, born and raised in East Africa, and have lived in California for most of my adult life. I relocated from California to Arizona to complete my doctorate in occupational therapy degree at A.T. Still University. I believe in God the Father, Yahweh, His only begotten son, Yeshua, and the person Holy Spirit. Outside my professional life, I love to travel, listen to music, visit different restaurants, and have COFFEE.

IreneWhy OT? Tell us a little bit about how you found OT and what got you into this field.

Dr. Linda: After relocating from Tanzania, I decided to change my career from business to health care given the opportunity out here in America. Growing up, I was always fascinated with the sciences. However, I felt like there were few health professions to pick from. At first, I was looking into becoming a physical therapist; however, a destiny helper (as I would like to call her) introduced me to OT. Just like the majority of people, I did not know what OT was and to me ‘occupational therapy’ sounded mundane. However, after doing my research and completing observation hours in different settings, I knew it was my best fit. I never thought I would find a career that was so rewarding yet so fun. I believe OT is what I was created to do.

IreneChoose three words that come to mind when you think of “OT”. Define each word in its relationship to OT. Why did you choose these three words?

Dr. Linda:

Diversity – OT as a profession is so diverse, as there are different specializations to choose from and limitless practice settings to work in from traditional to non-traditional. Also, OTs work with diverse populations of different ages, social-economic statuses, cultures, languages, and religions which empowers us to be more creative and to make meaningful connections.

Holistic – OT is among a few holistic careers – i.e. it addresses a person as a whole -the mind, spirit, and body, which is essential in promoting optimal health and ensuring independence when engaging in meaningful occupations.

Impactful – OTs are able to make a difference in their clients’ lives by adopting ways and creating a safe environment. Being able to witness our clients’ progress from being dependent to achieving independence or even simply learning a new skill and the joy it brings to them and their loved ones is very fulfilling.

IreneWhat is the most beautiful thing about OT to you?

Dr. Linda: Oh my, that’s a hard question because there is a lot I love about OT. However, if I were to pick, I would say how creativity and science collide. OTs are knowledgeable about body functions through anatomy, kinesiology, neuroscience, and psychology and are able to creatively use simple everyday items to compensate or remediate function.

IreneWhat are your plans for the future of OT? How do you want to revolutionize the field of OT in the future?

Dr. Linda: While completing my studies, I developed a passion for sensory processing disorders (SPD) that led to my doctoral capstone project on using sensory-based approaches to manage the effects of adverse childhood experiences. While completing this project, I realized that there was little research to justify the positive effects we bring to our clients through the use of sensory-based approaches. Therefore, I desire to complete other research projects on this topic to add to the body of knowledge to ensure SPD is recognized as a disorder in the DSM. In the future, I would love to work with an international NGO to advocate for policies that are centered on children’s health and wellbeing in Africa, while promoting our profession.

IreneCan folks connect with you to learn more about you/support you? If so, please drop your social media info down below!

Dr. Linda: Yes, please feel reach out to me via email lindamateruotd@gmail.com or IG @_broken.crayon

IreneAnything else you want us to know about you or anything you want to share with the readers? Feel free to drop it down below! 

Dr. Linda: Words of encouragement to fellow members of the human race.

“Broken crayons still color” – Shelly Hitz. 

Simply put- in spite of everything that a person has done or been through they still have purpose and value, and God is able to use our brokenness to create something beautiful. For pediatric OTs who haven’t learned this trick yet- to facilitate an appropriate pencil grasp, use a broken crayon 😉

Dr. Linda, thank you for your words of encouragement. They were so comforting to hear and I know I needed that word in my life right now! Also, your IG handle makes so much sense to me now! She is truly a pediatric OT – her creativity is beyond me. I am very excited to see the work that you plan to achieve in the motherland. I remember when I visited Ghana specifically and volunteered at a community home for children and adults with various disabilities. It made me realize how pivotal OT services could have been at that site and how I could aid in advocacy for the members’ wellbeing and quality of life through an occupational lens. When you make those strides, take me with you!

Renrenspeakers, thanks so much for tuning into the blog! I have ONE MORE FEATURE for you all today! Please tune in later this afternoon to the blog for Part 6, the final feature of my Occupational Therapy Speaks mini-blog series!

Peace and light,

Irene

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