scientific parent

I'm a guest blogger... again!

Some folks may have noticed that I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately.  

There are three main reasons for this: 

  1. Private Practice is really taking off! Thank you to everyone who has made the time to make an appointment with me, those who have made referrals, and those who have recommended me to your family, friends and colleagues. I cannot do this without you!
  2. I'm preparing for a few speaking engagements this fall.  Stay tuned to this blog for exact dates and times. I am honored and excited to partner with local not-for-profits and organizations that serve families in our Rochester community.
  3. I was asked to write another blog for The Scientific Parent. This time my topic is Developmental Milestones and Delays: When to Seek Help

Like in my previous blog entry for The Scientific ParentWhat is Autism & When Should Parents Seek a Diagnosis?, this time I wanted to provide some concrete information and additional perspective for parents and caregivers. In this recent post, I focused on giving caregivers guidance about whether their children are meeting their developmental milestones on time. This is a worry most parents confront at some point in time, as they watch their child's behaviors around same-ages peers at the play ground, in child care settings, or within the family. Writing this article gave me a great opportunity to address some of the concerns that impact perceptions, such as comparing the child's progress to peers, siblings, family, even the parent's own childhood development timelines. I was also able to tackle the concept of a milestone being continuous, componential, and variable in onset. Read on to learn what I mean. 

So what does it mean to meet a developmental milestone? We tend to view the meeting of a milestone as a binary event: Either they’ve done it or they haven’t. Milestones are rarely all-or-none in the final analysis. Remember the time you spent repeating “dada” or “mama” over and over to your baby as they studied your lips and tongue to try and mimic the sound. There were likely many attempts that came out as “ada” and “da” before they were able to finally say “dada” or “mama.”

Faith in Data

I was first introduced to Dan Habib's work at a film viewing of Including Samuel that he hosted at the Dryden Theater at the George Eastman Museum here in Rochester about 7 years ago. I've followed him ever since, and I recently watched this video about inclusive education which rings true to the ideals many families hold dearly. One comment in the video really struck home because it reminded me of how data helps us know how and when to push and adapt our practices.

I’m going to push you until you give me what’s inside of you
— 7:48 minutes into the video

That’s what I’m talking about! And I buy what’s she saying hook, line, and sinker because it’s backed by the collection and recurrent use of data. I’ve been sitting on this idea for a while, and this video has inspired me to write it up. By way of analogy, this quote made me think about my favorite verse in the entire bible: 

Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
— James 2:17

I remember very vividly my sophomore religion teacher, William Jauquet, dropping bible verses on us, and he tersely summarized this verse as “faith without works is dead.” I believe this line wholeheartedly, and I try to apply it to my work as a psychologist as such: “Even so therapy, if it has no data, is non-falsifiable, being by itself.”

So what am I trying to get at here?

I want to provide care that is informed by data and to measure clinical change. This is why I am giving clients and their families forms to complete on a routine basis to help gauge their progress and to better adapt our work together.

Since my practice just started (3 weeks in, hooray!) I am seeing a lot of new clients for the very first time. These intake appointments have been a great opportunity for me to collect data from clients and their families using standardized measures, and to integrate this data into my practice as an index of clinical change. I am working to screen for a range of clinical concerns and to have on-going, data-driven discussions about client's unique symptoms and to measure their personal progress. I hope this data-informed approach will be useful to my clients, and also provide me with real-time feedback so I can better meet their needs.

This is what I would love to hear more about from folks who read this blog:

  • What measures do you use as part of your work? Recommend them to me.
  • What domains/aspects do you think are important to measure? How do we do this?
  • How often is too often/too little/just right for measuring change in your opinion?

I’m wearing my clinical scientist hat here and would love to hear more from you!

I'm a guest blogger

I had an opportunity to write a piece for The Scientific Parent, a website that asks professional experts in their fields to write about parenting topics by presenting scientific facts only, not opinions. They look for specialists in every field - who are also parents - to write in anunbiased, fact based article about their area of expertise. Each piece has an author bio at the end, and I can tell you they vetted me to make sure I fit the criteria to be a guest blogger. The goal of the site is to inform readers and parents on a relevant topic and allow them to draw their own fact-based conclusions to fit their life. The topic is very close to my heart and my work:

What is Autism & When Should Parents Seek A Diagnosis?

When writing this piece, I thought long and hard about every parent I've met who has a child, adolescent, or an adult with autism in their life. I tried to conjure up what I think would be the "key things" to think and do if autism becomes a part of someone's life. I thought first and foremost of Autism as Love. Here is an excerpt and a teaser if you'd like to read more

So, what is autism? That can be a difficult question to succinctly answer. Trying to define Autism feels a bit like trying to describe Love. It goes by a singular name, but its manifestations are so incredibly broad and varied that it defies simple distillation or description. I love my wife, I love my kids, I love my caregivers, and while I call what I feel for each “love,” each love is different. This is a little like what it’s like to define autism.