As a pediatric occupational therapist, Jaime Spencer was spread thin. The Long Island native and UC alum was the only OT on staff at the Levittown School District in Nassau County, New York. In a typical day, she traveled among the district’s 10 (yes, 10) school buildings, working with elementary students on motor skill development, sensory processing, and handwriting, and educating teachers on how to incorporate OT exercises into their curriculums.
“I love what I do, but it was hard to keep up,” says Spencer ’99
, who also holds a master’s in special education from Adelphi University. As a way to help more teachers in less time, she began posting OT resources, like flashcards and game ideas, on a shared drive that all teachers in the district could access.
“The teachers loved it,” she says. “They’d tell me how they were sharing the resources with parents and teacher friends. I wanted to reach more people, and I thought a blog would be a great way to do that."
In July 2014, Spencer started MissJaimeOT.com
. Her first posts focused on the most common issues she saw at work—articles on how to help fidgety kids during homework time, for example, or games for children with sensory processing disorder.
Now, four years—and more than 22,000 readers and 6,000 subscribers—later, Spencer continues to deliver practical advice for parents, teachers, and fellow OTs. She’s also learned new ways to share her expertise through video clips, Facebook Live updates, an email newsletter, teaching-training workshops and more.
“Other occupational therapists are a big part of my readership,” she says. “I try to share tips and strategies that have worked for me.”
Parents, too, are grateful for Spencer’s creative approach to therapy. With more public schools cutting physical education and recess time from the curriculum, she says, “more young kids are struggling with motor-skill development.” On the blog, Spencer provides games and exercises parents can use at home to help kids improve these skills in ways that feel like play.
“That’s my favorite part about working with children,” she says. “You’re always hiding therapy in fun stuff. It may look like we’re playing a card game, but we’re working on hand dominance, visual tracking, and balance. There’s a method to the madness!”
And though keeping up the blog and working full-time at school isn’t always easy, Spencer is inspired by the teachers and parents who’ve benefitted from her efforts, many who reach out personally through her site.
“We have seen tremendous growth from our son in just a few months,” writes one mom on Facebook. “We have Jaime to thank.”