Full Transcript

Interview with Dr. Oren Boxer, Pediatric Neuropsychologist

July 21, 2020

Dr. Gwen:         Hi, friends. Welcome to my channel. My name is Dr. Gwen, and I'm a Clinical Psychologist who's obsessed with empowering disabled individuals, their families, and the systems that support them. In this video, I interview Dr. Oren Boxer, a pediatric neuropsychologist. We explore what a neuropsychologist does, when you might need one, and what pressure points they relieve. Because of Dr. Boxer's expertise, we also get into what it means to be developmentally appropriate, what executive functioning actually is, and how diagnoses can be therapeutic when handled with thoughtfulness and care. As with all of my interviews, we'll end with the one skill that Dr. Boxer would empower individuals with to live their absolute best lives. If you want to jump around, timestamps are in the description below. Dr. Boxer is a wonderful mix of knowledge and warmth. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.

Dr. Gwen:         Hi, Oren. Thank you so much for agreeing to do this today.

Dr. Oren:          Of course, thanks. Thanks for having me.

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah. So, maybe what we can do is start by you telling us about yourself.

Dr. Oren:          Great. Well, so, I am a pediatric neuropsychologist. And so, my background in training is understanding a child's brain development and because all of our brains develop a little bit differently, and how that development impacts behavior over time. And, as far as my background, I always tell parents, "I'm a kid at heart." During breaks in my work with kids, I bring my switch, we play games, like the conference room table doubles as a Ping-Pong table because it just-- We have to keep kids engaged doing this work and I get bored, too, and I like to have fun during my work. And my training is in neuroscience, and also psychology and behavior, and working with the family to really find ways to help them out and help their kids.

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah, and when I think about the work that you do, it is really this way of looking at a child in a very comprehensive and deep way. How do they come to understanding the world, how do they encode the information that's coming at them, how do they use that information, what does it look like on the output side? I think the challenging thing sometimes is there are so many different types of psychologists. And, you just said you're a pediatric neuropsychologist, so there's a focus and specialty with children. Break down the neuropsych part for us; describe what that is for people who might not understand the specificity of that.

Dr. Oren:          So, the Neuropsych part refers to understanding brain development and neuroscience and how-- I even have my brain back there in the background, how the brain develops in kids and how that's so important in forging the lenses through which they see the world. And, what a lot of families maybe don't understand is that how they have developed. And, our development is influenced by genetics and our environment, and how those things have forged the lenses through which our kids see the world and how those lenses have changed the way that they view certain things and how they interpret certain things, everything from reading to social interactions. And, really helping parents understand how these lenses were formed, how that influences how our kids see the world and interact with people and things, and how to support them if that view has caused difficulty in any situation whether in school or with friends or other behaviors.

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah, when do people typically come to you, Oren, where they're saying, "Gosh, I have this question or I've got this pain point." How does a neuropsychologist solve that pain point? So, what are those pain points that you typically see or experience from your clients?

Dr. Oren:          So, because I'm a neuropsychologist, I feel like every child should have this evaluation done at some point preferably when they're younger. But, that's not always affordable for families or makes a lot of sense. But families come to me at different points. Some families have an older child that's already had an evaluation, they've had that experience and they come to me with their younger child because they start to see similarities or early signs of difficulties. Some parents see early signs of difficulties and reach out right away. Some parents may see the signs and have brought in educational therapists or speech-language therapists or other people who support their child, and it hasn't really come to any kind of significant improvement, and then they'll reach out for a neuropsych assessment to provide that road map of "How do we get to this point?" and "How do we really support this child?"

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah, so, really, it's almost like peeking into the brain. I always feel like you're doing this real structured peek into the brain and exposing it to different activities or tasks to see how it responds and to see what it does with it. And that functioning really does impact-- and you brought this up, not only how a child or a person learns, but it also affects their social understanding and social behavior. So, maybe talk about that, how does brain functioning affect social behavior. Because I think sometimes, we get the educational side or the academic side, but we sometimes forget about the social piece of this.

Dr. Oren:          Yeah, so, I've actually given a couple talks about this and written about this a little bit, but there are some kids-- This is a great example. There are some kids that have difficulties when it comes to visual, spatial, and visual-motor skills which come out in my evaluation. I have evaluations that show these are areas of weakness compared to their verbal skills. So, if you think about a child, I do a very detailed intake looking at their developmental history and let's say the parent says, "My child never really crawled or they had this unusual army crawl, and they were the last ones to tie their shoes and the last ones to ride a bicycle, and never really coordinated always bumping into walls, never really knew their left from the right but they got language really early, and they were the first of my kids to talk and they had incredible verbal skills, and they were first to read." Well, it turns out that these kids as they develop have deficits in their brain's ability to reason with visual and visual-motor information. You know this really well, I mean, a lot of parents do as well. But most of the communication that we engage with other kids or with peers is non-verbal. How we say something not what we say, what our body does when we speak, what our face does, what a group of kids do and how they interact, and what kind of nonverbal or visual information that's conveying. If our child has deficits in visual-motor, visual-spatial understanding, they're missing 80% of social communication. And then, if there's some kind of-- Usually, there's anxiety in the family history, when they miss that information they start to get anxious about social interactions and they start to avoid those social interactions, then all of a sudden, our child doesn't want to go to school, and they're irritable. So, as a neuropsychologist, I help families unpack that, how do we get to this point, and now that we see what the problem is, how do we help?

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah, so, you're doing this kind of where the rubber is meeting the road, and there's they're skidding out. And that those places of pressure or pain are leading to some kind of distress, and you also picked up this emotional piece. So, we're talking about how we learn, how we encode information, maybe that's through reading or math, or writing, those are typical things that we think about. We look at this social piece, how do we bump up against other people, and understand other people and ourselves in relation to them. And then, there's this emotional piece. And the thing that I find to be so fascinating about emotions is that they really are the vehicle or the conduit to our abilities. They can suppress our abilities easily. And so, talk to me about how you might assess emotion, and how is that part of an assessment?

Dr. Oren:          So, the social-emotional evaluation is a huge part of a neuropsych evaluation and I think it's a good point that you bring that up because a lot of families think, "Well, neuropsych, you're going to look at academic learning or other things that are cognitive and you don't really look at that social-emotional piece." But it's huge, because oftentimes, the social-emotional difficulty, whether it's anxiety or depression or whatever that is, stems from some kind of difficulty throughout their development, whether it's in school, with friends, with family trauma or stress, understanding how they got to that point. And so, evaluating, that's important. So, not only do I have parents and teachers fill out reading skills to give me more of a quantitative understanding of what's happening, but I spend a lot of time. Because usually, I spend two full days with kids, developing rapport, doing a clinical interview, really understanding what's going on to evaluate the social-emotional piece. Because that's a really important part of the entire roadmap and treatment recommendations.

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah, and humans are complex, we're complex. And you were talking about comparing how some parents can compare their kids, I mean in this way, "Oh, they walked first," "Oh, they talked first," and it's the same home, same environment, but here's this kind of genetic load and how interesting that is. So, much as we support students that have a disability, this idea of really uncovering how they are in the world, how do they take on the world, how do they embrace the world, and we want them to do that with a sense of confidence. Because then they can be expansive, and open, and how lovely is that. So, I really see these neuropsych assessments to be these very, very detailed, this very, very systematic and formal way in which you uncover all of the pieces of someone's profile to give them, I think you called it a blueprint or a roadmap, to then how to hack learning, how to hack the social environment, how do I own this and move forward. Inevitably with that endeavor, we look at strengths, because you definitely uncover strengths. But we also uncover weaknesses. So, how do you help a client understand strengths and weaknesses as part of their profile?

Dr. Oren:          So, that's a great point. So, at the end of my evaluation, I spend hour and a half or two hours going over the entire profile with the parents talking about strengths, talking about weaknesses, if a diagnosis is appropriate I talk about what that diagnosis is, what that means. And then, we talk about treatment recommendations and we have a whole plan of what to put in place to support this child. And by the way, the plan never includes taking a child out of the things that they love and giving them more therapy. That's a recipe for depression or anxiety in any situation. So, I always say, "Let's be really thoughtful about how we put in place in these therapy recommendations. And if baseball's the only thing, or karate is the only thing that makes this child happy, let's protect that. And let's think about the other things that we can put in place." So, after that process, then I speak with the child. And this is my favorite part. This happens a few days after the parent's feedback. I get to sit down with the kid that I evaluated, and I get to spend an hour talking about their brain with them, and how it works and what their brain's really good at, and what their brain is struggling with. And at the end of that hour, I haven't told them anything they don't already experience on a daily basis. I've given them the language to understand why. So, now, they're self-narrative, it's no longer, "I'm stupid," or "I'm bad," or "I'm lazy". Now, the narrative is, "I'm incredibly bright, and I draw and do all these other things better than most kids my age, and just when my brain goes to read," which is a really silly process anyways to ask our brains to do," it's hard for my brain. But guess what? Dr. Boxer and my parents, they have a plan. And here's the plan that's going to really help." So, giving a child a sense of agency that there's something they can do to address these things. It's also incredibly therapeutic for them. And so, they walk away, and by the way at the end of that hour, they get to tell their parents what they learned about the evaluation. So, we all sit together and the child teaches the parents what they learned about their brain. So, we're all on the same page.

Dr. Gwen:         That is an incredibly awesome experience, this empowerment. And empowerment is so critical here. And that sometimes, that's a hard road to come by for many, but especially for individuals that have a disability, because they oftentimes sit in, "Why is this harder for me than someone else?," "Why do I have to work harder to read, or to do math, than what I'm seeing around me with my peers? Oh, that must mean there's something wrong with me." Or, and I call these the moral diagnoses, "I'm lazy," "I'm not working hard enough." And sometimes, that's what other people might also-- that might be the message that other people might also portray, which is the farthest from the truth because I think you and I both know that individuals with disabilities are some of the hardest working people on the planet. Because they are compensating and building skills like crazy to really make it work and feel good. So, I love this process that you do because there's nothing like knowing yourself, being able to articulate that, and being able to make a plan or to get help.

Dr. Oren:          And to advocate. When a parent says, "You know what, after this evaluation, my child went to the teacher and was able to advocate for themselves and say, "I need more time," or, "Let me give me an extra chance to fix the spelling mistakes because this is harder for me." That is a transformative experience.

Dr. Gwen:         Yes, and it's the little iterations of that over and over and over again that build those meaningful skills, that get integrated into the personage, the agency of somebody.

Dr. Oren:          Yes.

Dr. Gwen:         I love this idea of agency. As I work with teens and adults, they have to be the agent, they have to be squarely driving their own vehicle because inevitably, the shift of responsibility is going to fall onto their shoulders. Whether they're ready for it or not, it happens. And so, what better way than to help empower people with skills and that's exactly what you did in your process, which is so awesome. I love that. The other piece that you brought up, Oren, is this idea of resonating. Meaning, after you've done an assessment, you sit down with a student, a client, and you say, "Hey, this is what I learned about you through what we did together. How does that feel to you?" And I'll say to a parent, a lot of times, or a student, I'll say, "If there's something that doesn't feel right about what I'm saying, it's probably me. I probably did something wrong. I missed something somewhere. Why doesn't it resonate with you?" But you picked this up, I'm not telling them something they probably didn't already know before.

Dr. Oren:          That's right.

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah, so, that is cool. Yeah, go ahead.

Dr. Oren:          Yeah, I mean, that's really important. And also, when I talk to parents about I feel that sometimes, a diagnosis can be incredibly therapeutic because it really helps a child. And sometimes parents are very concerned about sharing the diagnosis with the child. And I always tell them, this diagnosis is not going to make them feel worse, it's going to give them an idea that, "Hey, hundreds of thousands of other kids struggle with the same things that I struggle with, and there's a name for this, and also there's plan of things that can be helpful for me. And so, that's very helpful. Sharing that information with a child in a developmentally appropriate way is incredibly therapeutic. And sometimes ignoring it or not giving the diagnosis can be worse because then they say, "Wow, this thing is so bad, there isn't a name for it."

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah.

Dr. Oren:          And that can be really stressful for a child.

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah, and that ambiguity, the only way I see that the gap gets closed on this, Oren, is through shame and self-criticism. There's not a framework for which I can understand why I'm distressed and I'm feeling bad about something. And, everyone around me is acting like it doesn't exist because we're not talking about it and it's the elephant in the room.

Dr. Oren:          Or, "I just have to try harder."

Dr. Gwen:         Right. And that's where the moral diagnoses come in, "I'm lazy," "I'm not trying hard enough," "I'm faulty," "There's something wrong with me then". And sadly, that's where I think shame enters.

Dr. Oren:          Absolutely.

Dr. Gwen:         And, we all know that the terrible suppression that shame has on our agency, our confidence, and our just belief that we are valuable. And so, that's important, I think, especially as you and I work so much. I mean, we see depression all over the place.

Dr. Oren:          Yeah.

Dr. Gwen:         That's kind of a lighter feel...

Dr. Oren:          Yeah.

Dr. Gwen:         ...to an already self-critical system.

Dr. Oren:          Very true. And, I feel like the earlier that we can get this information to children so that they feel empowered so that they understand how to help themselves, the better off they are. And, the more time they have to self-correct their narrative.

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah.

Dr. Oren:          To go from, "There's something wrong with me," to "I'm just like all these other kids and in fact in some areas, I'm able to do better than these other kids," and have the agency and the growth mindset, if you will, to kind of work on these areas that are a weakness.

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah. And that we all have them.

Dr. Oren:          That's right.

Dr. Gwen:         I mean, I have plenty. So, and I say that to my clients all the time, "If I could only have just a piece of your memory, oh, I'd have a lot of-- it would be so great for me." And, I always find it interesting when I say to one of my clients, "What are the positives of your disability?" And it really--they usually don't think about it that way. They usually think about, "Well, I can't do this," and "I won't do that," and "Well, I can never do that because of my disability". And, I want to flip that, and I say, "Yeah, but, what are the positives of it? Because I'm going to tell you, you can do way more than I can in this arena. And if we just plug you in into that space where your talent really meets the need of a job or a hobby, you're going to be unstoppable.

Dr. Oren:          Yeah.

Dr. Gwen:         It's just finding that place.

Dr. Oren:          Yeah. And, I get this conversation a lot with ADHD, with Attention Deficit Disorder, and it's interesting because I work with younger kids and you work with adolescents and young adults, it's different in the sense that the younger kids, they have to go to school for a number of years. It's not like they can choose what job they want or what they want to do or classes to go to. So, I'm very honest with them, I don't want to give them a false sense of reality and I say, "Look, ADHD is incredible for a lot of reasons. People with ADHD are incredibly passionate, they do that thing that they love better than anybody else, and they can hyper-focus. A lot of people with ADHD, and this might be a terrifying thought, are ER doctors. Why? Because it's intense, they have to make impulsive decisions, they have to go with their gut, and they are incredibly successful. Or, they are CEOs of companies because they have a lot of people doing the administrative executive functioning tasks and they can be creative, and in love and passionate with the things that they love." And then, I come to the reality with the child and I say, "But having ADHD can be a super bummer when it comes to school, because with ADHD, it's hard to focus if things aren't interesting. However, here are the strategies, or here's the plan that we can put in place to help you get through these next few years." So, it's meeting them where they are but telling them there's a brighter future, and here's how we get through this.

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah. And that some of those things, two sides of the same coin are that's your rocket fuel.

Dr. Oren:          Right.

Dr. Gwen:         That can set you apart. Oren, let's back up, just a scooch because you brought up this word, "executive functioning." No, no, no, I love it. I just feel like this executive functioning idea is being thrown around a lot all over the place. But I'm not sure that people have a clear understanding of what it actually is. So, can you define it and talk about it just a little bit?

Dr. Oren:          Sure. I talk about executive function a lot because it's a term that's used by a lot of professionals and teachers in schools, and I feel like a lot of people don't know what it is. So, from a sense of everyday experiences, executive functioning in kids is their ability to stay organized, to plan for the future, so for successful completion of future tasks like a book report or whatever that long-term goal is, and to keep the materials organized, and to be able to stop and think. And when I say, "stop and think," a lot of parents focus on the, "think." You didn't think through this stuff but a lot of kids, they can't stop. So, you have to like, "Well, how do we get them to stop?" And then, they can think about the consequences of different behaviors.

Dr. Gwen:         Yes.

Dr. Oren:          So, the ability to visualize different futures and make your decisions based on those different futures, that's really executive functioning. For parents, I give the example of Waze. A lot of us aren't driving these days, but before COVID when we were in traffic, we used Waze on our phone. And that's a perfect example of executive functioning, the goal is to get to that appointment or wherever that place is in the most efficient way. And to be flexible, so if there's an accident or police, you can go around and flexibly adapt to the environment to get there in the most efficient way. So, executive functioning in kids is developmental and it's a work in progress, and it's not until in their 20s before we start to see a coming together of this ability. And, there are certain things like ADHD or other developmental differences that can slow down executive functioning skills in kids. So, we have to identify that and to provide scaffolding to improve those areas.

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah.

Dr. Oren:          Because the other thing is, real quick, that a lot of schools, around fourth or fifth grade, they just expect these kids to have these executive functioning skills. And, they don't, so what do we do then?

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah, and, I mean, I was just-- we were on the same mind train there, I think, which is we know executive functioning very, very frontal part of the brain, really doesn't hit its lovely maturity until the 20s. But yet, we're expecting our kids and our teens to be able to really put together in this very sophisticated way, planning for their futures, and planning long-term assessments or projects for school. And that even there's social-- there's a lot of executive functioning that's involved in our social life and--

Dr. Oren:          Social media, too.

Dr. Gwen:         Oh, especially social media today because we do need to have some idea of how to balance or check ourselves, we have to hold something in order to check ourselves against social norms and rules when we're on that platform. Which is a quick platform; it's a rapidly quick platform. So, if you have any impulsivity issues, watch out on that platform.

Dr. Oren:          And big consequences, yeah.

Dr. Gwen:         Big, and sometimes, consequences that you can't take back. You can't take back some of those things that happen on socials, so how important that is. Yes, I love that. Yeah, so, some a word that you've used, or words that you've used throughout this interview have been developmentally appropriate.

Dr. Oren:          Yeah.

Dr. Gwen:         How does that concept of developmentally appropriate, sometimes, that comes against the chronological age of a child or an adolescent? So, can you just briefly touch upon what you mean by "developmentally appropriate."

Dr. Oren:          Right, so, throughout development, there are specific skills that typically come online at certain ages. For example, I love working with nine and 10-year-olds because that's a point where their brain is so wired and so connected more than any other time in their lives that they're ready to learn new skills, languages, all these other things. After 11 and 12, those connections start to become more efficient and connections that aren't being used, die off in a very normal way because our brain is really set up for efficiency. So, throughout the brain's development from birth to in our late 20s, early 30s, there are specific milestones and skills that are supposed to be there. But, it's not like, "Okay, at nine years, six months, they have executive functioning skills." It's not always the case. At the same time, girls, they're born with more connections in their brain, they develop a little bit faster than boys, and if you walk into any kindergarten class in the past, you can see, girls are typically more regulated, boys have their fingers at their nose, and they're all over the place. They just don't have the same developmental experience to that point. So, and, not only are there differences in sex and how the brain develops, but also if there's any kind of difference in brain development stemming from ADHD, or visual-spatial deficits, or a learning disorder, or auditory processing deficits, those skill sets that we'd expect over development are delayed. The problem is when there's a delay in brain development in that way, it's not obvious. It's not like a child has a broken arm and they'll have a cast, it's like, "Well, okay, I see that there's a problem. Let me give you support." It's not obvious. So, kids can be struggling with this for years because they're compensating, but at the same time, they're stressed out and they're anxious and no one sees it until it's too late. And then, our child's failing in class, they're not engaging with their friends, and they're anxious or depressed at that point. So, identifying these developmental delays and really providing support is really critical.

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah, they're ultimately compensation and all that hard work always is costly. It not only costs resources, it costs emotions as well.

Dr. Oren:          Right.

Dr. Gwen:         So, that's there, I love it. I think you and I could probably talk about all of these little tangents and get into the weeds. I love that so much. So, I will keep us on track because that is my role. Oren, what are your desired outcomes of your assessments? So, if you were to say, "Gosh, if a family could walk away with blank for my assessment, I'd be happy." What would that be?

Dr. Oren:          So, for me, I really want a family to understand boundaries when it comes to parenting to know, "Okay, my child has all of these skills." So, if they don't do these certain things, that's a parenting zone. That's where I can come in and provide parenting support with the expectation that they can do it with the right parenting. And then, to be able to say, "Okay, but these behaviors, this isn't something that they just have to try harder at," or "This isn't something that I have to parent-run. This is something that needs intervention, therapeutic support, or other accommodations." So, for parents to know those boundaries when it comes to their interactions with their kids, that's incredibly important just for the health of the entire family system. So, that's one important piece. The other piece that I really want to the family to walk away from is for a child to be able to have a different narrative. When I talk to parents I say, "I want to be able to have your child write a new chapter in their self-narrative, that's strength-based, that's empowering, that gives them a sense of agency." And, for them to walk away from that experience with that sense of agency is huge and that's one of my main goals from the assessment.

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah, that's awesome. That's awesome. And, that you have fun.

Dr. Oren:          And with fun.

Dr. Gwen:         I'm going to get assessed as well because maybe you and I need a Mario Kart battle.

Dr. Oren:          Yes, I am down whenever you want.

Dr. Gwen:         Okay, well, I'll come over and we'll play a little Ping Pong and do some Mario Kart as well. So, Oren, who is your kind of in-the-pocket client? Meaning, if this client came to you, mixed with your specific passions, love, expertise, that's where the magic kind of happens. What kind of client is that?

Dr. Oren:          Okay. So, I love seeing kids throughout elementary school. I mean, really across all ages, but elementary school is really-- I love working with these kids. There's very little filter, so whatever they're experiencing, it's like right there. Sometimes they overshare and parents like, "Oh, I can't believe they told you that." But, so, it's really a lot of fun. But I really am passionate about helping kids who have these visual-spatial deficits, maybe because I think I have a lot of those issues. But, the problem is, they're missed. They're missed by parents, they're missed by teachers, because these kids who have visual-spatial deficits, they're incredibly verbal, almost verbally gifted. So, when someone meets them, they're like, "Whoa! This child has potential, has skill." And, they don't see these other weaknesses. So, teachers, they don't just expect grade-level work, they expect above-grade-level work because of the child's verbal intellect. And, they have no idea that they don't know their right from their left. They have no idea that when they put up a graph, it's like looking at Chinese or something, they have no idea what that is. And, they're having a hard time navigating their social experiences. So, when these kids come into my office, it's like magic. I see it, I have been doing research to find the best ways to really support these kids, to improve their visual-spatial skills. By the way, one of those interventions is Tetris, which I don't even know it I know about.

Dr. Gwen:         Yes.

Dr. Oren:          It really helps. And so, those experiences lately have been transformative.

Dr. Gwen:         What I picked up from this-- Well, there's a couple things I picked up from it. One is that, it's funny about what we become passionate about because it tends to reflect something about ourselves. And so, you'd pick that up, you're like, "Maybe I've got some visual-spatial stuff." But the other piece that's so cool, apart from Tetris, because that means, I've been training my visual system for a long time, is setting expectations appropriately. And, those clients or kids that you talk about, I call those "bamboozlers," so, the teens and adults that I work with. And it's always my very verbal guys and gals, and you just expect a lot from them. I mean, you expect more maybe, but they don't really understand what is going and then expectations are set. And then, when they don't meet those expectations, the immediate assumption is that they're not motivated, they're not willing to work hard, and they're not interested. When I'm like, "Actually, they're very interested." They're very interested. So, that is so critical, this idea of how do we see sometimes what's not so obvious. And that's what you're uncovering, is it very sophisticated. Yeah, I love that. I love that. How do people typically access your assessments, Oren? Because I think anyone that's listening to this interview knows that a lot of time goes into this type of assessment. Neuropsych assessments are extremely comprehensive and they take a lot of time. So, because of that, they are pricey endeavors. So, how do clients typically access an assessment from you?

Dr. Oren:          It's certainly a labor of love, it does take a lot of time because there are so many variables that come into play that are thought about because we think about the whole child. So, some families come in and they can afford to pay the fee and they pay the fee and it's not a problem. That's not the case for a lot of families, obviously. There are payment programs that we offer for families. A lot of times we work closely with insurance companies to help families get some kind of reimbursement for this. If a family has a child at a public school, there could be some vehicles for funding through what's called an Individualized Educational Evaluation, an IEE, and that's where the school pays for the evaluation. So, I take two of those a month because I want to be able to help families that can't afford this service. And then, I also have colleagues that work for me, who are training under me, that can offer a similar evaluation with my supervision at a lower fee. So, there are a lot of options that we try to offer families because we we're just so passionate about this and feel like it can really change a child's life.

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah, absolutely. And, I've been on the other end of that as a professional who utilizes your assessments in planning interventions and support. So, I can say that you, guys, really, really do care a lot about getting it right. Like getting it right so that it can result in a meaningful impact and change for the client that you're working with. Okay. So, Oren, I always end my interviews with this question. Which is, if you could only choose one skill to empower an individual with, what would it be, and why?

Dr. Oren:          I would say, I would want the individual that I'm working with, and we're assuming this is the child, to be able to have a more positive self-narrative that they can then use to advocate for themselves. And, this actually brings me back to one client that I saw when he was in elementary school. And he had significant deficits in his visual-spatial process. He's a kid like we could hit with nonverbal learning disorder you could say, incredible verbal skills, very impaired visual-motor skills, visual-spatial. And, we had a very strong connection, he was able to learn a lot about himself and how his brain works. And he did the most amazing thing, and this taught me a lot. He went through school, and he applied and was accepted to RISD, which is the Rhode Island School of Design. It's very, very prominent design school. And I thought to myself, this is the last thing I would probably recommend for this kid is to go into some kind of design school with all his visual-spatial deficits. And, he told me that he used the knowledge from his evaluation and some of the tests as his application to the school. And was just passionate about doing this so much and felt so empowered from the evaluation that he felt like he could do it no matter what. That he got in and he's doing incredible work now. I'm even looking into buying some of his furniture because the things that he does are amazing. So, the reality is, though it does take him five times as long to get the homework done, but he's so passionate. And then, I wrote him a letter and he got extra accommodations to do that work, but he loves it now. So, the message for me, what I learned is that, no matter are the results of the assessment, the kids can do whatever they want. As long as they have the knowledge that it may take me a little bit longer, I might have to work harder, but with that, I can do this thing better than anybody else. And that's what he taught me and that's what I want kids to be able to learn.

Dr. Gwen:         Yeah, that's awesome. I mean, that's true empowerment and the true ability to advocate because you're very clear about what the costs are for you. But it's worth it. And when we know and we put our full heart, soul, minds into something, even if it's a lot of work, it feels that much better on the other side of it because of what we've done. And so, that is incredible. That's awesome. Well, Oren, how do people get a hold of you? Like, if they were interested in a neuropsych assessment, or they wanted to explore it more with you, how would they do that?

Dr. Oren:          So, they can reach out to my office and I'm happy to share that information either call or email. And, for families that just want to know more, I always have set up free consultation. So, I'll get on the phone for 15 to 20 minutes, half-hour, just to talk about it. In fact, I have one coming up this morning. Just to talk about, is an evaluation helpful for what my kid is struggling with. And, if a full evaluation isn't helpful, is there something else that we can do in the meantime to really get our hands around what's going on. So, I'm happy to do that at any point.

Dr. Gwen:         Great. And I'll get that detail, I'll get your contact information, I'll put it in the description of this video so that people can reach out to you. Awesome. Thank you, Oren. Thanks so much for joining me today.

Dr. Oren:          Sure. Thanks for the opportunity, it's great.

Dr. Gwen:         Thanks for watching. I hope this interview helped provide some education or insight. Contact information for Dr. Boxer is in the description below. If you got any value from this interview, please hit that Like button and subscribe to this channel where my goal is to empower through connection, inspiration, and transformation. See you in the next video and thanks for watching.



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