My name is Guy Yaakov Yekutieli and I am an occupational therapist. I am a graduate of the University of Haifa and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
Since 2004, I have been treating children in both general education and special education out of a desire to discover and develop the tremendous and unique abilities that exist in each and every one of them. A significant part of my work is to guide, advise and support parents and educators. In recent years, I have been writing and lecturing in the field of child development.
My mission is to help children and their families, prevent developmental difficulties and delays, and deal with existing difficulties and the frustrations and implications that go along with them. I do this by means of two main tools: the imparting of knowledge to parents and educators, and the providing of activities for the children themselves via the activity books that I have written and published.
Through my work with thousands of children in various frameworks, I have identified two cycles.
I refer to the first cycle as the cycle of participation.
This cycle is based on a clear developmental fact that represents the essence of optimal development in early childhood, that is, that activity = development.
Every activity that a child engages in creates and builds nerve connections and cells in the body in general and in the brain in particular. When a young child participates in an activity, all of his or her systems – the nervous, sensory, mental, motor, perceptual and emotional –develop. This development allows the child to experience success. This experience of success builds a sense of competence and motivates children to continue to practice and participate in activities, and thus to continue to develop.
Picture 1: Participation - Development - Experience of Success -Sense of Competence
Picture 2: Avoidance - Developmental Delay - Difficulty - Frustration
I call the second cycle the cycle of avoidance. Avoidance is the opposite of participation and the nemesis of development. Avoidance causes developmental delays, which lead to difficulty, which leads to frustration, which in turn increases avoidance and leads to developmental delays, and so on. Some children are trapped in the cycle of avoidance and must be extracted from its grasp. I was amazed to discover that most developmental delays and difficulties in children stem from a low level of activity, that is, either a total abstinence from or little participation in basic developmental activities. I identified three main reasons for this:
The first is that, from an emotional perspective, when children refrain from developmental activities, their sense of competence is low as a result of an absence of experiences of success.
The second reason is that parents or educators lack the knowledge, awareness, or practical tools to engage children in the gradual and correct activities for their stage of development.
The third culprit is activities that do not encourage participation because they do not capture the hearts or pique the curiosity of children who would otherwise be eager to participate, succeed and develop.
Who am I and what is my mission?
Identifying these two cycles was, for me, a vital discovery because it revealed the key to preventing difficulties before they develop and to dealing with difficulties when they are still in their infancy. I set out on a new path with a new role -as a preventive occupational therapist. In this role, I work to implement the preventative approach in early childhood through two main tools: lectures that enable the transfer of knowledge and the raising of awareness among therapists, parents and educators, and practical tools that encourage children's participation in developmental activities, namely, the developmental activity books that I wrote and published in Hebrew and English. These activity books and the stories within them melt away children's tendencies toward avoidance, captivate their attention and their hearts, and lead to participation, which leads to development, which in turns leads to success, joy, and a sense of competence.