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An Interview with Tracy Jirikowic, PhD, OTR/L

Tracy Jirikowic

Dr. Tracy Jirikowic, associate professor, joined the Division of Occupational Therapy faculty in 2008. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a B.S. in OT. She earned both her M.S. in Occupational Therapy with an emphasis on Early Childhood Specialization, and her Phd in Special Education/Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington.

Why did you become an occupational therapist? Why do you think it is a great career choice?

At the time I was making career decisions my grandmother was going through rehabilitation after a stroke. That was my introduction to OT. OT is a great career choice because it is flexible and it’s really about helping people do or resume what is meaningful and important to them.

What do you think makes the University of Washington MOT program unique?

Combination of small class size, an interdisciplinary environment, dedicated faculty.

What is the focus of your teaching efforts for the MOT program?

I currently teach two pediatric theory and practice course and a course in measurement.

Can you briefly explain the focus of some of your current research efforts?

My research focuses on understanding the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on behavior and sensory motor development in children. Two recent research projects focus on using biovehavioral methods to stress reactivity in infants and sensory reactivity in school-aged children. A third project is aimed at developing a virtual reality game system to improve balance in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

You have a clinical appointment with the University of Washington Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnostic and Prevention Network. Can you explain more about your involvement with the FAS DPN?

I have been a clinician with the FAS DPN diagnostic team since 1996. This involves direct work with children and adults who are affected by prenatal alcohol exposure as well as local state and national training.

In 2011, you were elected chair of the American Occupational Therapy Association's Developmental Disabilities Special Interest Section (DDIS). Can you explain some of the goals of this professional community?

This is a group that focuses on the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the lifespan and supporting occupational therapy roles, practices and activities in areas such as early intervention, transition to adulthood, and community participation.

Finally, what are some of your outside interests/hobbies outside of work?

I have two daughters and when I am not keeping up with them, I enjoy photography, reading, anything outdoors, but of late it is mostly gardening and hiking.

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