Marketing and Outreach Coordinator, NESCA
What is neuropsychology? How did you get interested in this field?
My first introduction to neuropsychology was as a college student when I took coursework in neuroscience and cognition and found it to be fascinating. However, when I started graduate school, I was initially intimidated by neuropsychology courses as I feared they would be too “medical” or focused on research. I specialized in pediatric psychology, but always assumed I would become a therapist. It was not until I took an internship with a pediatric neuropsychologist that I really understood the field and fell in love with this work.
Although the field of neuropsychology is extensive, what we do at NESCA is focus on its practical applications. An evaluation is comprised of a set of tests that seek to assess students’ skills in a variety of areas such as intelligence, memory, organization, learning/academics, and social skills. The data being generated by those tests are then considered within the context of the student’s developmental history and current challenges. Ultimately, the goal is to provide parents with a complete picture of their child’s learning profile – helping to understand where their child might excel and where he or she might struggle. Moreover, recommendations will be provided in an effort to help each student meet his or her innate potential and to experience success.
What do you like about your job?
I love the opportunity to work with many different children and families from across the state and, in some cases, from other countries. Families place a lot of trust in me by sharing very difficult stories about their children’s struggles and I feel privileged to be a member of their team. For me, the most impactful part of the evaluation is often the parent feedback session when I explain the results of the testing and lay out my recommendations. Through this process, I hope to provide parents with an understanding of their child’s learning profile in a way that helps them establish a road map for the next several years.
Do you have a specialty? What do you specialize in?
At NESCA, we see a wide variety of students presenting with all types of issues. My caseload is always varied and never boring! That said, I tend to see younger clients and have extensive training in evaluating children under 5 years of age. I also enjoy working with students who have developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders or intellectual impairments. I often evaluate students who are considered “difficult to test”; for example, those who are nonverbal, have vision impairments, or significant motor delays.
What brought you to NESCA?
After completing my doctorate, I spent two years working in a hospital setting. Although I learned an extraordinary amount during my time there, I had very little opportunity to interact with parents as they were typically followed by their child’s physician. I really wanted to work in a place where I could see an evaluation through from start to finish, and working at NESCA allows me to do this. I also appreciate the opportunity to observe students in settings outside of the office and work closely with teachers and other providers. Through the entire process, I get to know each student very well, and I am also able to establish a meaningful relationship with their parents.
What do you enjoy about working at NESCA?
NESCA has a wonderful work culture that is extremely collaborative, supportive, and enriching. Everyone truly enjoys each other’s company and we often have social gatherings to celebrate milestones such as weddings, graduations, and births. Aside from that, our director Dr. Ann Helmus is committed to having all clinicians stay up to date on current research and treatment in the field of neuropsychology. Every other week, we have outside professionals provide staff training, allowing us to learn about local resources, which we can then share with our clients. We also frequently share new information with one another as we attend conferences or read new articles.
What do you think sets NESCA apart? Why should a parent bring their child here when there are so many other neuropsychologists in Massachusetts and New Hampshire?
Every clinician at NESCA is extraordinarily dedicated to providing the best care to their clients. We have case conferences every week during which clinicians discuss challenging cases and seek input from our colleagues. With each new presentation, it is clear that the clinician has genuine compassion for the child and family and is striving to help in every way possible.
Further, our evaluations are remarkably in depth, and we often ask students to return for additional appointments if we feel that we need more information to help round out our understanding of a particular case. Every clinician conducts school or community observations on a regular basis as well; these are often essential in order to see how a student is functioning on a daily basis since test scores do not always tell the “whole story.” Along with these very detailed evaluations, the reports that are provided by NESCA clinicians are outstanding. I have the opportunity to read many, many neuropsychological reports, and I can honestly say that I believe NESCA reports are the best. They describe the student as a whole, including both strengths and weaknesses. Recommendations are consistently specific, detailed, and thoughtful. I often hear parents say that after reading the report, they have a better understanding of their own child.
What advice do you have for parents who are not sure if a neuropsychological evaluation is needed for their child?
The best first step is to have a consult with one of our clinicians. These one-hour appointments give parents the opportunity to describe their concerns and seek advice on next steps. While a neuropsychological evaluation might be necessary in order to answer their specific questions and address their concerns, this is not always the case. Having the chance to talk things out with an expert can be extremely helpful in terms of creating the most sensible plan.
We are very excited to announce that on October 1, 2018, NESCA will open a bright new, satellite office in Plainville, MA! To schedule an appointment with Dr. Erin Gibbons in Plainville, please complete our online intake form: https://nesca-newton.com/intake-form/ The address of NESCA-Plainville is 60 Man Mar Drive, Suite 8, Plainville, MA 02762.
About the Author:
As Marketing and Outreach Coordinator, Ashlee oversees marketing campaigns and develops community relationships through various programming activities – all of which expand NESCA’s well-respected reputation in New England. Ashlee brings a wide range of marketing, design and communications experience in the social service and non-profit industry. She lives in Newton with her husband and their beloved dog, Winnie. In her free time, she enjoys doing yoga, watching documentaries and promoting her and her husband’s housewares startup.
Get in touch with Ashlee with any questions you may have about NESCA’s programs and events at firstname.lastname@example.org. She looks forward to hearing from you!
Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email email@example.com or call 617-658-9800.