Getting to Know…. Amelia Mukherjee

Name: Amelia Mukherjee

Title: Physical Therapist

How long have you been with JSDD? I started March 2019

Was this the position you started in? Yes

What is your first memory of JSDD? Aubrie brought me in for an interview and I loved the beautiful artwork! I spent a lot of time looking at the artwork in the hallways in the old building in West Orange.

What has most surprised you about working with JSDD? How many great classes are offered that help promote and incorporate balance, gross and fine motor skills, and activities of daily living (ADLs) such as yoga, tai chi, painting or other artwork, and cooking.  These are all great things, that are fun activities that can help the members be active and healthy.

What are 3 words to describe JSDD? Family, supportive, and teamwork

What do you find most challenging? The most challenging is not becoming overly ambitious in sessions.  Most members have a half hour session once a week and it’s hard to fit everything I would really love to work on and what the members really enjoy working on into 1 session… so I have to remind myself that we can work on different areas each week.

What do you wish other people knew about JSDD? How much fun everyone has working together. How supportive the staff are. The genuine happiness and friendship between members and staff. I admire the mutual respect staff and members have for each other. Members look forward to seeing staff and are sad when they are not there and vice versa!

When your friends/family find out that you work for JSDD what do they say or ask? People are most curious to know what the center offers and what people do here. The thought of adult day care is just sitting and talking, waiting for therapy. At the WAE Center there is so much to do, so many classes are offered it is almost hard to schedule therapy. Even other therapists are not as familiar with the habilitation concept because most settings are for returning to prior function and not maintenance or continued care.

Tell me about someone who has influenced you while working with JSDD? Aubrie really introduced me to the idea of habilitation. Normally you work with someone to get them back from an injury or sickness. Habilitation seems to be a bit of a unicorn as a therapist-you rarely get to provide continuing care after return to prior level of function.  I would say it’s a concept or dream that every therapist loves because there is a clear benefit to maintaining a person’s functional mobility and also providing the therapist the ability to follow people’s changing needs as they age.  Normally people do not come back to therapy to address their changing needs as soon as they should.  Also, Anthonice is always there to help answer my questions and coordinate with house staff and family members.

What part of your job are you most excited about? That I can be creative with therapy.  I often find myself ordering more equipment because I think something might be fun to try or of interest for certain members.  I also like being able to find items that might help caregivers or staff when assisting members with ADLs or mobility at the WAE center.

What is on your wish list for the next 5 years with JSDD? I would love to bring in Physical therapy students and establish a working relationship with a university. Most programs focus on the pediatric population with IDD needs and not as adults or with geriatric needs. It would be a way for students to experience a unique population that they would not get much exposure to otherwise. Also, I would love to have a talent show. A lot of members have proud moments in the therapy room that people don’t get to see. I would love to have a showcase so they can show off their progress and milestones.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating or getting involved to JSDD? I would tell them they would learn how creative, interesting, and lovely every member is and how lucky they would be to become part of their family.

Before working at JSDD what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had? I have had a lot but, the most interesting was an internship as a primate zookeeper at the London Zoo (I have a Spider Monkey scar to show for it!) I briefly worked in landscaping and coached gymnastics.

What is your favorite thing for Lunch? I like an Afghan dish called challow kadu or an Indian Place in Bloomfield called Apna Punjab, where I like to get veggie korma and they have the best samosas.

What is something about you that is not on your resume? I studied animal behavior as an undergraduate and did a lot of research on golden lion tamarins. I was a competitive gymnast for 10 years. I love to travel and have been helping with refugee resettlement as I am able.