Photo curtesy of CBS News Chicago (
Photo curtesy of CBS News Chicago (

Helping kids thrive through play

Prospect parent Lorilee Marling thought she knew exactly what she wanted to do when she grew up, but during her first year of college, she found herself with a decision that could change the whole course of her life. 

Sitting in her college counselors office at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she knew that her goal of becoming a pediatrician was not something that she wanted to pursue anymore, so she and her counselor worked together to find a field that would be best for her. 

Marling knew from a young age that she wanted to work with children. She had been a youth sports referee, babysitter and camp counselor in high school. Her counselor suggested the therapy field and after multiple observation hours, she had her heart set on becoming an occupational therapist. 20 years later and that job is still what she loves to do.

Marling works at Ascension Resurrection Hospital as an Outpatient Pediatric Occupational Therapist. Every day, she works with kids who have developmental disabilities. 

She typically sees patients with autism, Down syndrome, sensory processing disorders, general developmental delays, fine motor deficits and children having problems with handwriting. Through games and activities she helps them achieve developmental goals.

“If you think of occupation, what’s a child’s occupation?” Marling said. “It is to play. So basically, I’m trying to help them achieve their developmental milestones and pretty much do what all the other children their ages are doing.” 

Even though she enjoys her job, there are some downsides that come along with it, according to Marling. There are struggles with the demanding hours. Therapists working in hospitals often have very early and late hours. 

There are also expectations to work weekends and multiple holidays a year, which can be tough to balance when you have a family. She has three kids and her daughter Madeline Marling is a freshman at Prospect. 

Additionally, it can be difficult to work with children with developmental disabilities as some of them have challenging behaviors, according to Marling. Through all of this, she says that it still pays off in the long run.

”It’s just really rewarding seeing the children accomplish their goals, and I essentially get to play all day, which is pretty cool,” Marling said.

Marling also says that she has no regrets about her career path despite some of the difficulties.  

“I don’t think there’s a lot of people that can say like, I absolutely love my job, and I do,” Marling said. “I like going into work every day. It’s challenging, but fun, and I’m really happy with the career choice that I made.” 

She also encourages others to try new things when it comes to choosing a job because that is what led her to two decades in a career that she loves. 

“Just try to explore all the different careers whenever possible,” Marling said. “What you think [you might be interested in] might not actually be what you’re interested in at all.”

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