Kinesiology student completes Kennedy Krieger Institute internship


SUMMARY: Kinesiology student Katie deMuth completed a summer internship working with children in the outpatient occupational therapy department.

By: Katherine Gentry
Creative Services Student Writer

PHOTO: Communication board

Sample communication board used with non verbal clients

Volunteering with Overcoming Barriers revealed a love of working with children with disabilities for senior kinesiology major Katie deMuth. The experience helped her decide to plan a future in occupational therapy with a focus on children. As a native of Baltimore, Maryland, deMuth was familiar with the renowned Kennedy Krieger Institute, a partner of Johns Hopkins Medicine and one of the leading facilities in research, patient care, and education for children and adolescents with special needs. In the summer of 2017, deMuth landed an internship with their outpatient occupational therapy department where she experienced various aspects of the field.

At the Kennedy Krieger Institute, deMuth shadowed multiple therapists, which helped her to become more familiar with occupational therapy and allowed her to observe different therapy styles. Most importantly, it allowed her to find her niche. “There are so many different areas in occupational therapy, so I was kind of testing the waters,” deMuth said. “I worked in a clinical setting and a school setting and I found that the clinical setting wasn’t really for me, but I’m glad I got to see that side.” She learned through her experience that she prefers working in the school setting and would like to eventually become an occupational therapist in a school for special needs after graduate school. In the meantime she plans to take a gap year and work as a teacher’s assistant or one-on-one aide.

Her favorite part of the internship was creating communication boards for nonverbal children and seeing them used in therapy sessions. deMuth explained, “I got such a feeling of happiness from working with the kids.” Creating the communication boards consisted of finding, printing, and arranging pictures representing feelings, therapy tools and activities. The clients use these boards to express themselves by pointing to certain pictures.

 “It taught me to not take my life for granted,” she explained. “There are so many people who can’t do the things we can do and so being able to help is so rewarding.”

She credits the program Overcoming Barriers with introducing her to occupational therapy. Started in 2010, Overcoming Barriers is a James Madison University community outreach program which serves children with disabilities. JMU students work one on one with clients in a physical education or adapted physical education class.

“That was the start of it all. I had never been interested in occupational therapy before,” deMuth explained. The joy she felt working with children in the program helped her to realize how much she loved helping people adapt to their special needs.

She advises other students to try out everything. She noted that “getting to work in an area with all different aspects of occupational therapy was really beneficial.” Kinesiology is one of many programs at JMU which offers a good preparatory path for students interested in studying occupational therapy in graduate school.

After she graduates, deMuth hopes to continue working with the Kennedy Krieger Institute to gain more experience in occupational therapy before applying to graduate school.

Published: Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 7, 2018

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