Title

Intentionality as the Basis for Development of the Occupational Child

Start Time

16-11-2002 8:15 AM

End Time

16-11-2002 9:45 AM

Abstract

The child's intention to engage in occupation is thought to bring about changes in occupational performance and through a self-organizing process alter his or her intrinsic capacities (Humphry, 2002). This assumption about development warrants further discussion before it can be applied to young infants as occupational beings. With participation in occupation as central to understanding development research with young infants needs to be guided by a deeper understanding of intentionality and the nature of young infants' volitional acts. This paper outlines issues related to defining intention and proposes a way to conceptualize or describe preverbal infants' efforts at occupational engagement and their experiences of self-agency. Philosophers (e.g., Dewey, Hendriks-Jansen) and leaders in development (e.g., Bloom & Tinker; Bruner; Tomasello, Zelazo) have pondered what constitutes mental representation of purpose, intentional acts, and the extent intentionality is innate to an organism. Of particular interest in occupational science is how intent is linked to infants' situated acts as well as the nature of their subjective experiences of interest in their activities. The most frequently used approaches in the field of intentionality present problems for occupational scientists interested in the developmental process. Some models discuss everyday activities as arising from established psychological functions and sensorimotor abilities. If purposefulness relies on a mental representation of a future goal maturation of certain intrinsic capacities would precede engaging in activities, suggesting a period when the very young infant is not occupational in nature. Other authors in intentionality have stressed how knowledge of daily activities, use of cultural artifacts, and socially appropriate behaviors exist outside the young child. In these discussions knowledge and motivation rest with a more mature partner and development is conceptualized as the transferal of information through motor and cultural learning processes. Neither of these ways of approaching intentionality are adequate as it is assumed that even young infants are occupational beings that through their self-initiated participation in occupations actively shaping their own developmental trajectories. The paper goes beyond the previous model to synthesize literature as it relates to the intentionality of young infants and propose an occupational science perspective of how infants first engage in occupations. It addresses how intentionality can be a mental representation of "about something" surfacing from transactions between very young infants and their physical and/or social environments. Evidence from research with infants is used to illustrate their capacities to be intentional and engage in occupations.

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Nov 16th, 8:15 AM Nov 16th, 9:45 AM

Intentionality as the Basis for Development of the Occupational Child

The child's intention to engage in occupation is thought to bring about changes in occupational performance and through a self-organizing process alter his or her intrinsic capacities (Humphry, 2002). This assumption about development warrants further discussion before it can be applied to young infants as occupational beings. With participation in occupation as central to understanding development research with young infants needs to be guided by a deeper understanding of intentionality and the nature of young infants' volitional acts. This paper outlines issues related to defining intention and proposes a way to conceptualize or describe preverbal infants' efforts at occupational engagement and their experiences of self-agency. Philosophers (e.g., Dewey, Hendriks-Jansen) and leaders in development (e.g., Bloom & Tinker; Bruner; Tomasello, Zelazo) have pondered what constitutes mental representation of purpose, intentional acts, and the extent intentionality is innate to an organism. Of particular interest in occupational science is how intent is linked to infants' situated acts as well as the nature of their subjective experiences of interest in their activities. The most frequently used approaches in the field of intentionality present problems for occupational scientists interested in the developmental process. Some models discuss everyday activities as arising from established psychological functions and sensorimotor abilities. If purposefulness relies on a mental representation of a future goal maturation of certain intrinsic capacities would precede engaging in activities, suggesting a period when the very young infant is not occupational in nature. Other authors in intentionality have stressed how knowledge of daily activities, use of cultural artifacts, and socially appropriate behaviors exist outside the young child. In these discussions knowledge and motivation rest with a more mature partner and development is conceptualized as the transferal of information through motor and cultural learning processes. Neither of these ways of approaching intentionality are adequate as it is assumed that even young infants are occupational beings that through their self-initiated participation in occupations actively shaping their own developmental trajectories. The paper goes beyond the previous model to synthesize literature as it relates to the intentionality of young infants and propose an occupational science perspective of how infants first engage in occupations. It addresses how intentionality can be a mental representation of "about something" surfacing from transactions between very young infants and their physical and/or social environments. Evidence from research with infants is used to illustrate their capacities to be intentional and engage in occupations.