Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Tomas Flanagan from St. Michael's House to give some advice for people considering this job:

Tomas Flanagan

Occupational Therapist

St. Michael's House

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Tomas Flanagan

I would advise anyone interested in Occupational Therapy to read up on the profession or else try to meet a qualified Occupational Therapist and talk to them about their work.

The internet can be a great resource in getting information. Also information from the universities might indicate if this is a course that is suited to you. A lot of the course work relies on you being a self-directed learner. This makes the course different to other more mainstream/academic courses as the onus is on the student to complete a lot of work independently.

As this is a caring profession an interest in working with people is a must. You also need to be a good communicator as you will be working closely with clients, families and other staff on an ongoing basis.

Organisational skills are essential to enable you to manage a caseload.


Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and like commerce, trade and making deals. Some are drawn to sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or managing a section in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented, and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
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Stammering / Stuttering
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Stammering / Stuttering

What is Stammering / Stuttering?

Stammering or stuttering is a relatively common speech, language and communication problem that can occur in childhood and persist into adulthood.

Stammering is characterised by the repetition of sounds or syllables (such as saying ‘mu-mu-mu-mummy’), prolonging sounds (mmmmmmummy) and pausing or 'blocking' (when a word gets stuck or doesn't come out at all).

It usually occurs at the beginning of speech, and people will often avoid certain words or speaking situations to try to hide it.

Stammering varies in severity from person to person. A person might find that they have periods of stammering followed by times when they speak relatively fluently.


Stammering is common in young children. Estimates for developmental stammering indicate that some 5-8% of pre-school age children will experience a phase of non-fluent speech.

The condition is more likely to persist in males than in females, which is why there are four times more men than women with a stammer. The reason for this is unclear.

Learning Strategies

  • Use actual objects to teach words and concepts
  • Check understanding constantly
  • Ensure student can see clearly when prompts, cues or other strategies are being used
  • Get the student’s attention before starting a conversation
  • A slower speech rate helps with processing of information not so slow as to lose continuity of message
  • Exaggerate and use gestures to help a with the meaning of words that symbolising object or action
  • Where possible, involve the student in selecting the strategy that works best for them
  • Use pictures or photographs to reinforce the teaching
  • Role play is a good way to alternate speaker/listener roles
  • Give simple directions (e.g. ‘Put the book on the table’) where there is  poor oral comprehension or following instructions is difficult. Have the student repeat what they heard to check understanding.
  • Useful activities such as conversation, discussion, radio/television broadcasts, puppetry, telephone, reporting, interviewing, telling jokes/riddles, book reports and role play
  • Use co-operative learning to encourage discussion
  • Be aware of misunderstanding and the role it can have on behaviour / social problems
  • Aim to ensure that students who attend speech and language therapy sessions during school time will not always miss out on the same subjects/activities.

Supports available

Children with a stammer may experience difficulties in school. Parents of infants, toddlers and young children with disabilities can access the HSEʼs Early Intervention Teams. These multi-disciplinary teams consist of a range of professionals with expertise in child development including medical professionals, psychologists, social workers, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. They provide assessment and intervention services to the 0-5 age group.

If a parent has concerns regarding their childʼs developmental progress, they may seek to have the child referred for an Assessment of Need by the HSE. The assessment may screen for concerns in relation to the childʼs physical, cognitive, emotional, social and adaptive behaviour and identify areas of need. Following the assessment, a HSE Liaison Officer is required to prepare a service statement within a month of the assessment being completed. This service statement will state what services the child will require and an action plan will be developed to deal with how these are to be provided subject to resources.

Parents seeking an Assessment of Need can ask their GP, Public Health Nurse or the childʼs Consultant to refer the child or they can make a parental referral by contacting their local HSE clinic.

Children who stammer attend mainstream primary and secondary schools with their peers, unless they have additional needs requiring a special placement. Whilst having the same level of ability as their peers, they can be at risk of underperforming.

School-based learning support will not be provided unless the child is performing in the lowest range at school. The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) is responsible for providing assessments within schools. The School can commission a small number of assessments each year through the NEPS but waiting lists are lengthy and private assessments by NEPS approved psychologists will be accepted for this purpose.

If the child meets the assessment criteria, they may be awarded a set number of hours of resource time per week and may also be eligible for a Special Needs Assistant. Children with OCD may not meet the criteria for this support, but it is important to discuss any support concerns with the principal in the event that an assessment is warranted.

The Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) is an officer of the National Council for Special Education with responsibility for allocating resources to pupils with special needs and related issues in schools see for a list of SENOʼs in each county.

At Secondary Education Level

A student who has been receiving special education support or resources while in Primary School is eligible for continuation of support at secondary level, once they continue to have a special educational need.

The same general provisions he/she received in primary school apply at Secondary Level. This typically includes specialist teaching from a Learning Support or Special Education Resource teacher (both now referred to as Special Education teachers).

This support is provided based on need, with the number of hours of support determined by the Individual Education Plan (IEP) drawn up in the last year of primary school.

At Third Level Education:

Going to college is the gateway to many rewarding careers for all young people, including those with this difficulty. It also provides life-changing opportunities for more mature people.

Students affected by Speech, language and communication disorders and written language difficulties associated with these disorders can apply to college through DARE, the Disability Access Route to Education. The following must be supplied:

Evidence of Disability - Complete the Evidence of Disability Form 2016 OR Submit an existing report completed by the appropriate professional which contains the same detail as the Evidence of Disability Form.

Age of Report - While there is no age limit on diagnostic evidence submitted it is advisable to submit a recent report.

Other Disabilities/Medical Conditions - Submit an Evidence of Disability Form for each disability / medical condition to be considered.

Educational Impact Statement - allows you and your school to provide detail of how your disability has impacted on your second level experience. The Educational Impact Statement is used by DARE to determine if an applicant to DARE has been educationally impacted as a result of their disability. This information and the information contained in your Evidence of Disability documentation (Section C) allows DARE to assess if an applicant has met the DARE criteria. The Educational Impact Statement also provides background on your educational experience and helps to determine appropriate supports at third level.

DARE Eligibility - The applicant is eligible once an appropriate professional has provided a diagnosis of a moderate or severe language or communication disorder
the applicant also meets any combination of two educational impact indicators from indicators 1 to 6.

Full details of the DARE screening criteria are available here.

Note: You don’t have to be eligible for DARE (Disabiltiy Access Route to Education) to get support in college. All students with a verified disability, regardless of whether they come through DARE or not, can avail of a variety of academic, personal and social supports while studying at third level. Further information on the support available in college can be found at

In the Workplace

Many organisations now make public claims to be an "equal opportunities employer". This suggests the existence of an equal opportunities policy (EOP), which is a policy statement adopted by the organisation declaring an intent not to discriminate and, further, to promote equality by taking steps to aid disadvantaged groups.  Such employers are in effect promising to avoid discrimination on grounds of sex or marital status, and may also make such a commitment in relation to people with a disability and racial and ethnic minorities.

Impact on Career Choice

Skills for workplace success fall into two main categories: hard skills and and soft skills. Hard skills are job-specific and they vary, depending upon the industry or field in which you want to work. For example, a graphic artist must have the computer skills that go with that job.

Soft skills are the personal characteristics that go with a variety of jobs - they include social skills, problem solving, communication, time management, and organisation. For example, a person who prefers to work alone might find a research job particularly appealing. Explore Career Skills in more detail here.

Useful Links
Specific Speech and Language Disorders - SESS 
Special Education Support Service (SESS)detailed information on Specific Speech and Language disorders.
HSE Ireland - Stammering 
HSE Ireland health information portal - detailed information on stammering.
Disability Access Route to Education
Higher Education Access Route
Student Finance