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What would be an ideal career for someone who wants to work with disabled children but has a low patience?

I would love to one day be able to help and communicate with disabled kids, such as a pediatric occupational therapist or something similar, but I tend to loose patience without meaning to. I am afraid that a career path such as pediatric OT is maybe a little too social for someone like me, and in that case, is there any similar careers that would allow me to still help and be part of their lives, but perhaps in a more bystander-like position?

Thank you comment icon Hi, Sumi! I love that you asked this question. It's very mature of you (and brave!) to be considering this. Sometimes having this level of self-awareness is the first step in overcoming this type of challenge. It's possible that pediatric OT isn't the right career for you, but you also might end up finding strategies to help you be happy & successful in this career after all! You never know. Continue to do such a great job of knowing yourself. Please remember that ALL human beings are a work-in-progress, and that making this observation about yourself does NOT mean that you can't be successful in this career. I hope you continue to get some great advice from Professionals on CareerVillage! Thanks so much for posting your question. Alexandra Carpenter, Admin

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C.’s Answer

Your initial interest in pediatric OT along with your desire to help children with disabilities makes me think that the world of healthcare sounds like it would be a good fit for you (even if OT doesn't sound like the perfect match to you right now!) There are so many different areas of healthcare to explore, and the field I'm always eager to promote is that of dentistry. There are two specialties within the field of dentistry that may stand out to you: pediatric dentistry and special care dentistry.
Pediatric dental professionals spend their time providing dental care to children without special needs as well as children with special needs as they age from small children into young adults. They are trained in minimizing patient fears, making a trip to the dentist a "fun" event, and promoting education about oral health in an individualized manner that recognizes and addresses the different physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of each and every patient.

The second dental specialty I would like to introduce you to is special care dentistry. Special care dentistry is a branch of dentistry that focuses on providing dental care to patients with intellectual and/or cognitive disabilities as well as those with physical, emotional, or medical challenges that affect their daily lives and oral health. Special care dental professionals work with patients of all ages but also receive advanced training in treating the specific needs of elderly patients both with and without special needs. Oral health care is provided with a very individualized approach by addressing the daily challenges each patient may face when it comes to maintaining oral health.

I would recommend that you explore the many different careers found within a dental office and consider the amount of interaction that they have with patients as they come and go for appointments. While any dental professional may take on the "social" healthcare duties similar to those of an occupational therapist (and that was something you mentioned as not-so-desirable), much of that socialization is focused on promoting patient education and addressing individual oral health care concerns while relieving symptoms and preventing disease for each patient that walks into the office. It is a very rewarding field to work in, and the level of patient interaction varies from role to role as well as from one dental office to the next. There are also administrative roles that are found in these types of dental offices such as office management/billing, scheduling/patient records, and other business-related positions as well. These careers would allow you to help patients in a different way than the chairside dental staff....different, yet just as powerful. Distracting nervous patients in the waiting room by making a silly joke from behind the front desk and then returning to your administrative duties could provide you with just the right amount of social interaction while maintaining a more behind-the-scenes role of dentistry. On the opposite end, if you desire a greater level of patient interaction, taking on a more clinical-based position like that of a dental hygienist, dental assistant, or dentist would allow you to focus your attention on social aspect of patient care and the science behind it all. An added bonus of dentistry is appreciated by those those who enjoy working with their hands. As someone who has worked both behind a computer screen and at the dental chair, I can tell you that working with my hands provides me with a much more rewarding, fast-paced, and physical work day than any other job I've had. Regardless of specific positions, the whole world of dentistry is a field that you will both feel and see yourself grow in. Let me know if you have any questions. :)
Thank you comment icon This never even crossed my mind as a possible career field, thank you so much!! This was very helpful Sumi
Thank you comment icon Amazing advice, C. Smith! Like Sumi, I had never heard of special care dentistry before. Thank you for opening up a new career/industry to the Students on CareerVillage! yoonji KIM, Admin
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David’s Answer

I do not work with disabled children as a career, but my wife is a special education teacher, and I have helped her with various extracurricular events, including chaperoning the children. Working with disabled children requires patience. If you tend to loose your patience easily, I would suggest not working directly with disabled children.

There are roles you can be in that can help them, but not directly interact. You could look into advocacy, which is a job that helps to ensure the children are getting the services that they are entitled to. An other role is a member of a Child Study Team, which evaluates children to determin what assistance and modifications they need.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! I understand what you’re saying Sumi
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Elizabeth’s Answer

This depends a lot on what your specific interests are! In addition to the great answer already provided, there is a wide variety of work around education for students with a variety of disabilities. You could go into educational, learning science, or psychometric research if you wanted to work on projects that would benefit disabled children via their education, or medical research if you wanted to find ways to treat or improve quality of living for disabled children. If you wanted to more directly create resources, there are many careers and roles that orient around creating adaptations to existing resources to better enable persons with disabilities to take advantage of those resources (ranging from translating materials, converting their format, or adjusting materials to make them accessible in other ways). Accessibility work in general is a growing field where there is a lot of work to be done that can largely be done asynchronously, where you might interact with disabled children occasionally but not on a regular basis (but your work would benefit them).
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is so helpful! Sumi
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Ann’s Answer

If your interested in working with children from a health perspective but don't want to be as hands on, one career path would be a pediatric dietitian. Diet is a crucial role in children with Juvenile Diabetes, Epilepsy, heart conditions, thyroid issues and a number of other disabilities. For example, the Keto diet was created to help control seizures with some epileptic children. A friend of mine has a child on this diet. The dietitian plays an important role in the health of children, but they aren't managing the day to day care like an OT. They will assess the patient and develop the nutrition plan, but the care takers and nurses will manage the action plan.

I hope this helps. Good luck!
Thank you comment icon I see what you’re saying, thank you! Sumi
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