By Ghadeer Ghloum

KUWAIT: Pediatric occupational therapist Eman Jaafer Abdullah took Kuwait Times on a journey to explore a day in her life that is almost never without surprises, as she spends most of her time in the company of children, which brings unexpected disruptions, such as getting injured while dealing with children with different abilities and special needs. Kuwait Times discovered the sacrifices that healthcare professionals make, alongside the great rewards that come from their work and life.


Beginning of the day

During weekdays, Abdullah prefers to wake up early in the morning to avoid the traffic, so she sets her alarm at around 6:00 pm. She starts her day by preparing for her tasks at work, then goes for a 15- to 30-minute walk. For breakfast, Abdullah noticed her eating habits and food preferences have recently changed. She now prefers to have a piece of toast or bread with cheese, vegetables and juice. She then heads to her workplace, which involves dealing with children who face difficulties in performing their daily activities or have delayed cognitive, perceptual and sensory integration difficulties. She provides therapeutic services that include individual and holistic assessment sessions and individual and group therapeutic sessions.

Abdullah always ensures that these sessions come with training services for parents; whether providing awareness lectures or training sessions to involve them in the treatment plan and therapy sessions, because they are the most important part in implementing the treatment plan in the child’s actual environment and applying the activities and challenges that the child faces within it.

One of the challenges that Abdullah faces during her job is children’s non-responsiveness, as she once had to carry a child whose weight required more strength than she has, which caused an injury to her shoulder. Her work hours are usually during official working hours from 7:30 am to 1:45 pm. Abdullah has created a rule for herself that she will not discuss work outside official working hours. This helps her to complete her work during working hours and have the rest of the day for herself to enjoy as she wishes.

Abdullah obtained her master’s degree with honors in public health from the Faculty of Medicine at Kuwait University in 2016 and her bachelor’s degree with honors in occupational therapy (OT) from Kuwait University in 2013. She is certified in sensory integration from USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California. She currently works as an occupational therapist for children with hearing problems and cochlear implants. She adopts a family-centered, team-based and play-based approach in her practice.


Midday and after work

As she goes back home, Abdullah spends time playing with her nephew, Hussein, the first grandchild in the family. They play outdoors or at home, where Abdullah applies the playing skills that she has gained from the nature of her job. She also practices some of her hobbies, such as cooking and trying out new recipes. She also loves decorating the dinner table with different styles and themes, and usually incorporates her love for cooking into gatherings of family and friends she hosts at her house.

Another thing she loves to do is print photos and write the occasion and date on each photo and keep them, especially photos from her trips to special places and special experiences. She also draws, because drawing is an activity that contributes to improving mental health for relaxation, tranquility and self-expression. She sees such activities are necessary for those who work in physically and mentally stressful jobs such as hers.


Evening, end of the day

Abdullah prefers to get enough sleep, especially since the workday is long and requires effort and activity, because dealing with children is very demanding, so she has to be cheerful and comfortable because her mood reflects on the child’s psyche.