In Memoriam: Claudia Kay Allen MA, OT, FAOTA (1942-2019)

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It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Claudia Kay Allen, one of the great thinkers and theorists of the occupational therapy profession, passed away on February 25, 2019 in Glendora, California, after a long illness.

Claudia was one of a group of dedicated therapists who, in the early 1960’s, recognized the need to address the cognitive challenges faced by persons with mental disorders who were being unfairly blamed for behavioral and functional problems.  She dedicated her professional career to developing theoretically based assessments and interventions grounded in systematic observational data for addressing cognitive limitations impacting occupational performance and meaningful participation in daily activities.  She also passionately advocated for empathic understanding of the needs and perspective of persons with cognitive problems who she felt were often misunderstood. As part of this process, she has been recognized by AOTA for introducing the concept of functional cognition and functional cognitive assessments to the practice of occupational therapy. The theoretical framework and assessments she developed with many colleagues over the course of decades have become known as the Cognitive Disabilities Model.  Today this theoretical and evidence-supported model and assessments guide occupational therapy practice with persons with cognitive limitations and disabilities in a variety of practice settings such as mental and behavioral health, physical rehabilitation, productive aging and dementia, and developmental disabilities.

Claudia will be remembered for her great vision, intellect, and passionate advocacy for the rights of individuals with cognitive disabilities to experience their Best Ability to Function in satisfying and successful activities whatever the complexity of their impairments.

The Allen Cognitive Group/ACLS & LACLS Committee looks forward to continuing her vision and this advocacy by promoting access to educational and practice resources for use by practitioners, educators, and researchers who serve the needs of clients with cognitive disabilities.

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