Jennifer works as a school OT in the Ann Arbor area. This is her second career, having worked for almost 15 years as a designer. In her last design job, she worked as a product designer at Johnson & Johnson creating online health interventions for challenges such as migraines and heart disease. Her design background informs her approach to occupational therapy. She finds occupational therapy an exciting new chapter filled with opportunities for new challenges and exploring ideas.
As a student in the Eastern Michigan University’s (EMU) Occupational Therapy program, Jennifer programmed games and made interfaces for clients in her fieldwork to motivate them to work harder and focus longer. This experience drew her to teach technology and occupational therapy to others.
She started a workshop called Experimental Game Lab for Digital Divas, a biannual conference whose goal is engaging middle and high school female students in science careers. The workshop is a mixture of design, games, and occupational therapy while tinkering and exploring with electronics. She also taught therapeutic gaming as a guest lecturer for EMU's Occupational Therapy program. Future therapists learned to create interfaces with everyday materials, pairing it with a computer game for therapy. It’s a great tool to teach problem solving and creating a “just right challenge" for clients.
The year (2018) she graduated with a Master’s degree in OT, Jennifer co-authored an article titled “Making it Work: Examples of OT Within the Maker Movement” which was featured in OT Practice’s 2018 August issue. The cover shows a “Blow Switch” created for a client in her fieldwork. Jennifer has a blog called Motivator Labs (https://www.motivatorlabs.com) where she engages with other therapists about creating and designing for clients. She continues to teach and was presenter, this June, for The Arizona Technology Access Program Assistive Technology Evidence for Success Disability Conference.
She uses therapeutic gaming in her school practice. A student favorite to begin a therapy session is a game for sensory-motor skills and communication. One student is the “engine,” jumping to move the character, and the other is the “driver,” touching pads with both hands crossing midline to steer while exploring new lands each week.
Outside of work Jennifer enjoys scuba diving with her husband and three kids, as well as jogging with her dog Luna. She teaches an after-school programming class with her sons as co-teachers. Both are avid programmers in elementary and middle school. They are planning an afterschool class that combines design and programming to create new interactions for a school sensory room.
Jennifer is currently a proud member of MiOTA. She volunteers as a moderator for online webinars. Membership with MiOTA is important to Jennifer because MiOTA supports her practice by keeping her informed, providing free continuing education via webinars from local therapists, and advocating for our practice.
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