Q&A: Celebrating Occupational Therapists

At See Differently, our Occupational Therapists (OT’s) work with people to enhance their independence, safety, and ability to participate in what is meaningful to them – whatever that is!

For many of our clients who suffer from vision loss, our OT’s work with them on practical skills and strategies to support the day-to-day; preparing food, showering, dressing, and so much more.

For Occupational Therapy week, we sat down with Flinders University OT student Nilakshi Kankanamage to talk about all things OT and what it’s like doing a university placement with See Differently with the Royal Society for the Blind.

Q: Why did you decide to study OT?

A: I have always wanted to work with and help people, especially children. I knew I needed to find a career that would be rewarding but also keep me grounded – becoming an OT seemed like the perfect career path.


Q: Why did you choose to have your placement at See Differently? 

A: Although I didn’t know much about people with vision impairment, I’m really fortunate that I was accepted into my placement at See Differently. My time here has shown me other parts of OT that I had not considered at university.


Q: How has your placement been so far? 

A: Now that I am towards the end of my placement, there’s been a massive turnaround with my workload. From initially observing the other therapists, I now have a caseload and my own referrals, and I can call clients to book a home visit. It’s all very exciting!

The See Differently OT team has given me lots of flexibility and trust. I am learning a lot more than I expected. See Differently’s placement is excellent for students to learn and grow. I have experienced a lot throughout the program, and there have been no dull moments.


Q: What have you enjoyed most about working at See Differently? 

A: I have enjoyed working with the OT team, as I feel I am a part of the team. Everyone is very welcoming, making me feel very comfortable. Working with clients and managing their needs has also been excellent.

See Differently has given me much exposure to clients and the work that supports clients’ needs.


Q: What have you learned about working with people with vision impairments? 

A: Heaps! You learn a few things at university, but it helps once you talk to clients with vision loss. You get a greater understanding of what clients are going through. It’s important to remember that most people with vision loss do not have mental disabilities and can talk for themselves, which is why you can never assume what they need.

I have also learned about the many types of vision diseases people can develop.


Q: What advice would you give to a student in year 12 who may not know what they want to do at university? Why should students study OT? 

A: Find what interests you and not anyone else. If you have a passion for helping people, then OT might be your career.

I chose OT because I am passionate about working with people and increasing someone’s independence. It’s a gratifying job; although it has challenges, you ultimately give someone a helping hand and support them where they need it.


Q: What field of OT would you go into now that you’ve experienced work at See Differently?

A: I always thought I wanted to work with children, but I have enjoyed working with adults who are blind or vision impaired. I have found it easier to connect and communicate with people than in other placements.

The See Differently program showed me another side of OT I didn’t think of when I started my degree.


No matter your vision condition, mobility needs, or age, our team will work with you where you are, at home, work, school, or out and about in the community.


To make an appointment or learn more about Occupational Therapy, call 1300 944 306 or email contact@SeeDifferently.org.au.