TPP 060a: A Deep Dive Into Assessments, Diagnoses, and Labels, with Melissa Neff, PhD
In this episode, I talk with Dr. Melissa Neff, a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Missoula, MT in the United States who specializes in conducting psychological evaluations with children (ages 6-18) and adults. A lot of Melissa’s practice focuses on helping parents figure out what’s going on with their children and diagnosing things like ADHD and autism, although she shared with me that one of her favorite aspects of her practice lately is working with girls who are on the spectrum.
There are so many things I could have talked about with Melissa, but for today’s episode, we focused our conversation on the diagnostic process—what it involves and when and how parents can take the steps they need to pursue a diagnosis—as well as the pros and cons of getting a diagnoses, and more specifically, of having one or more labels attached to a child, both in their educational journey, as well as their lives as they grow into adults.
Melissa Neff, Ph.D received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2008 from the University of Montana following the completion of an APA-approved pre-doctoral internship at Spokane Mental in Spokane, WA. She has extensive training in working with children and adults of all ages. Her areas of specialty are the diagnostic evaluation of psychological disorders and the assessment and treatment of trauma. Dr. Neff also has extensive experience in testing for ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, and anxiety disorders. She utilizes a strengths-based approach in her work in an attempt to foster resilience, preferring a team-centered approach to assessment and intervention.
Things you’ll learn from this episode
- The typical / “best” ages for kids to be assessed
- What some of the early signs are that a child might be on the autism spectrum
- How subjective is the process of assessing / diagnosing a child?
- What makes a “good diagnosis?”
- Why the current diagnostic process isn’t catching everyone, especially girls (for both autism and ADHD)
- The value of a diagnosis or label—pros and cons
- Tips for navigating the process of getting a diagnosis
Resources mentioned for the assessment process for kids
- Dr. Melissa Neff’s website
- A Conversation with Julie George About Girls on the Autism Spectrum
- ADHD is Different for Women
- Decades of Failing to Recognize ADHD in Girls Has Created a Lost Generation of Women
- Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
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