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Model of Human Occupation | Ep 111

Connect with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Podcast With Dr. Richard Smith and Dr. Lynette Scotese-Wojtila Guest: Ellen Winney Episode 11, Launch Date: August 4, 2021 Listen on major podcast platforms, and here:

Our blog posts serve as brief overviews of our podcast episodes. The 11th episode of Connect with S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a podcast built around the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach and the person who coined it, Dr. Lynette Scotese-Wojtila, is all about "MOHO" -- the Model of Human Occupation.

MOHO involves looking at "occupation" through the eyes of occupational therapy.

Think of a triangle with three points: Performance Habituation

Volition We talk about performance, that’s where we are using our bodies to do certain things and using our mind to do certain tasks or skills, and that’s the basis for our existence, how we move and think and operate.

We talk about habituation - the habits we develop over the course of our lives - and how those habits support our performance.

Volition, or our intentionality around our life outcome, or human will, is the ability to forecast your life.

If we are strong at the bottom of our pyramid, and we have the ability to do many tasks well, then we are going to be able to land where we want to land in life. The theory is more a conceptualization for how humans sort of make day-to-day existence functional and independent. It’s kind of a ‘how humans evolve into functional members of society’ I think is the best way to put it. We’re going to talk a little bit about roles and how they fall on the habituation system. That will concretize what it means to work through this hierarchical schematic.

In all 3 of the areas (performance, habituation, volition), this is where, if the schemas are not forming correctly, someone on the autism spectrum disorders spectrum would need assistance helping to form them.

Ellen Winney shares, "One of the key parts of MOHO, which is the roles that people partake in, the roles that they hold. So if you think about the roles that you hold, that kind of dictates what your occupations will be. So for myself, I’m a mother, I’m a homeschooling mother so I am a teacher, I am an employee as an occupational therapist, I am a sister, I am a daughter, I am a church member, I am a citizen of the country that I live in. Each of those different roles have different responsibilities or occupations that go along with them. So, as a mother I have to make sure my children are fed and dressed and get where they need to go, and be responsible for their ethical and moral formation in addition to the physical needs. So, there’s many many things that would go into that role. So, as we start to pattern our days, as we have these different performance skills and get into these different habits, those habits are dictated by the roles that we hold. So, as an employee, you have certain habits based on your job responsibilities in the role that you hold specifically. So, that’s a key concept: these roles. As we apply that to autism, our kids on the spectrum have roles that they are expected to hold as well. They are supposed to be a player, as one who plays like Lynette just referenced, they’re a student, they’re a sibling, they’re a daughter/son, a grandson/granddaughter, a neighbor. So, all of those roles that they hold have certain responsibilities and occupations that go along with them. When they are not able to fulfill those occupations because of difficulties in the performance subcategory or in the habituation subcategory to start, not even at volition yet, that really impacts their ability to function in their families and in society. That’s where this kind of comes into play in the field of autism. And really, I’ll just add in to, any human being. That’s why it is such a holistic theory. We are fulfilled as humans when we are doing a good job in the roles that we hold. When my house is clean, when my children are fed and getting along with each other, and I feel that their needs are met, I am fulfilled in my role as a mother. I have the causation, the belief that I can keep going in this role. That really impacts our happiness and satisfaction in our life roles and the ability to which we are able to perform that. It’s not just kids with autism that we really need to be paying attention to. It’s looking at us as whole human beings."

Key Takeaway from this Podcast Episode on MOHO:

Some of the key takeaways are that understanding of what occupation is, in the bigger sense of it, and that in order to have meaningful occupation, we have that performance subsystem, those skillsets, the habituation where we organize our behavior into routines that form our roles, and then our volition – what we value and what motivates us. And that when we’re functioning, not just those on the spectrum, but as human beings, we’re able to find fulfillment and happiness and contentment in our existence as human beings. We really want to be mindful and say if we’re finding struggles in maintaining our occupations, really breaking it down and saying, “Where is that breakdown happening?” Remembering that we really are open systems. If something is a struggle for us now, it doesn’t mean it always is going to be that way. Our kids are young now and we’re struggling as parents to envision where they are going to be in the future. Just trust in that open system that we’re created and know that with the right supports, that feedback will become salient with that transdisciplinary team around you, our kids can have meaningful life roles regardless of their diagnosis.

We hope you listen to the whole podcast on Spotify, Apple and other major podcast platforms. You can also access it via our website here:

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Hundreds of parents, teachers and caregivers have said that our online course has made a meaningful difference in the lives of their child with autism, we well as their family and home life. Consider taking our online autism course and learn The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach in depth. It's a 9 module self-paced course. Learn more here: For more information about The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach, please go to our website at Follow us on Facebook: Follow us on Twitter: Follow us on YouTube: We hope that you learned something today to help you on your journey with autism. We'll share more on our next Connect with Success Podcast. Until then, expect success!

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