Last week, 22-year-old James Durbin wowed the audience—as well as viewers all across the country—as his amazing voice and incredible performing style helped catapult him to the next round on the popular television program “American Idol.” Now among only seven finalists in the competition, Durbin seems unstoppable. Yet success has not come easily to this young Californian, who copes with the twin diagnoses of Asperger’s and Tourette’s disorders. Since his appearance on “American Idol,” Durbin has been very open about the effect of these two conditions on his life and his musical career.

Although awareness of Asperger’s disorder (a high-functioning form of autism) has grown in recent years, Tourette’s is less well known. According to the National Institutes of Health, Tourette’s is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. The early symptoms are almost always noticed first in childhood, with the average onset between the ages of 7 and 10 years. Tourette’s occurs in people from all ethnic groups; males are affected about three to four times more often than females. It is estimated that 200,000 Americans have the most severe form, and as many as one in 100 exhibit milder and less complex symptoms such as chronic motor or vocal tics or transient tics of childhood. Although Tourette’s can be a chronic condition with symptoms lasting a lifetime, most people with the condition experience their worst symptoms in their early teens, with improvement occurring in the late teens and continuing into adulthood.

Durbin’s positive attitude and his success as a performer have made him a hero for many children with Tourette’s disorder. Durbin says that he loves hearing that people are inspired by his history of overcoming adversity. “It fuels me to do better and to push myself even further,” he told USA Today in a March 8 interview.

In the past, television and movies have often highlighted Coprolalia, a form of Tourette’s disorder in which patients curse or spit out racial epithets uncontrollably. In reality, only about ten percent of patients have this severe form of Tourette’s. With the media attention generated by performers like Durbin, some common misconceptions can be dispelled, and the public can see a person with Tourette’s who is talented, successful, and popular. Durbin summed it up on a recent episode of “American Idol” when he said, “I have Tourette’s and Asperger’s, but Tourette’s and Asperger’s don’t have me.”


Ira L. Cohen, PhD, author of the PDD Behavior Inventory™ (PDDBI™) and the PDD Behavior Inventory™: Screening Version (PDDBI™-SV), which will be released next month, will be giving a poster presentation at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) hosted by the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR).

Dr. Cohen’s presentation, “Reliability and Validity of the PDD Behavior Inventory-Screening Version (PDDBI-SV) Scoring System,” will discuss the software portfolio that accompanies his new product.

IMFAR 2011 will be held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, California from May 12-14, 2011. For more information about IMFAR 2011, visit www.autism-insar.org.
Thomas M. Brunner, PhD, coauthor of the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory-2™ Child and Adolescent (STAXI-2™ C/A) will be giving a poster presentation at the Society for Research in Child Development’s (SRCD) 2011 Biennial Meeting.

Dr. Brunner’s presentation, “Advanced Anger Assessment Using the STAXI-2 C/A to Identify Anger Profiles,” will take place during poster session 9 on Friday, April 1, from 2:10 to 3:50 p.m.

The SRCD 2011 Biennial Meeting will be held the Palais des Congrès de Montréal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada from March 31 to April 2. For more information about SRCD 2011, visit http://www.srcd.org.
PAR author Adele Eskeles Gottfried, professor of educational psychology and counseling at the California State University at Northridge, is being honored by the Western Psychological Association (WPA) at their convention next month in Los Angeles. Dr. Gottfried, creator of the Children’s Academic Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (CAIMI), has been named recipient of the WPA’s 2011 Social Responsibility Award based on her research in the field of intrinsic motivation that has contributed to enhancing knowledge about children’s motivational development and educational attainment. In recognition of her award, she has received a special invitation to present at the convention; her talk will be entitled, “Searching for Motivation from Childhood through Adulthood: Findings and Implications.” Dr. Gottfried will also present her research on intrinsic motivation at the 2011 Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Biennial Meeting next week in Montreal. This presentation will be entitled, “Developmental Motivation Roots and the Need for Cognition: A 20-Year Longitudinal Study.”

Dr. Gottfried developed the Children’s Academic Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (CAIMI) as a tool to help differentiate motivation from achievement and ability factors in students with academic difficulties. The CAIMI is also useful for counseling students in the general population with regard to academic interests and course selection, in instructional planning to stimulate motivation in weak areas and facilitate intrinsic motivation in strong areas, in providing individualized program planning, and in program and educational evaluation by schools and school districts. In addition, the CAIMI is the basis for the construct of gifted motivation, which addresses the concept that individuals with exceptionally high intrinsic motivation have a history of higher academic competence and functioning. Through the years, the evidence for the validity and stability of the CAIMI has continued to mount. Dr. Gottfried currently has both a book chapter and a journal article in press that extend the CAIMI to leadership literature.

To learn more about Dr. Gottfried’s research, click here for her intrinsic motivation bibliography.

Congratulations to Dr. Gottfried on this honor!


With spring training now underway, people’s thoughts tend to move toward thoughts of America’s favorite pastime – baseball. You may not be aware, however, that major league baseball (MLB) is, perhaps, the most progressive of all professional sports when it comes to issues involving mental health. In fact, on April 1, 2009, the MLB put in place a disabled list (DL) for players suffering from emotional disorders. Teams were then allowed to place players on the DL if they were evaluated and diagnosed as suffering from a psychological problem that prevents them from playing, the same way they handle physical injuries.

During the 2009 season, five players were put on the disabled list with diagnoses ranging from clinical depression to anxiety attacks to social anxiety disorder.

While the MLB may be bringing more awareness to mental health issues, no other professional sports league has followed this path. While we know there are many professional athletes who live with mental health diagnoses (remember Ron Artest thanking his psychiatrist after winning the NBA championship?), why do you think they have not created similar programs? Do you believe that mental health still has a stigma in professional sports?
In January, The Clinical Neuropsychologist (TCN) and the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN) released the results of the TCN/AACN 2010 Salary Survey. Doctoral-level members of the AACN, members of Division 40 (Clinical Neuropsychology) of the American Psychological Association (APA), members of the National Academy of Neuropsychology, and other neuropsychologists were invited to participate in a web-based survey to learn more about their beliefs, their income, and their practice.

The following are just some of the findings that were released in the January issue of The Clinical Neuropsychologist.

  • The field of neuropsychology continues to see increasing numbers of women joining the profession – 7 out of 10 current postdoctoral residents are women. Furthermore, for the first time ever, more than half of the total respondents to the TCN/AACN survey were female.

  • Substantial numbers of young psychologists are entering the field of neuropsychology. The median age of APA members has been above 50 since the early 1990s, while the current median age of clinical neuropsychologists remains at 47 and has stayed relatively unchanged since 1989.

  • Neuropsychologists are preferring to use flexible battery assessments rather than fixed or standardized batteries. The flexible battery approach is continuing to see an upswing in popularity while the use of fixed batteries are on the decline.

  • Clinical neuropsychologists specializing in pediatrics are more likely than others to work part time, are more likely to be women, are more likely to work in institution settings, and also report lower incomes than respondents who see only adult clients or a combination of adult and pediatric clients.

  • Incomes are dependent on number of years in clinical practice, work setting, amount of forensic practice, and location (state and/or region of the country), and can vary considerably. However, according to survey data, job satisfaction has little relationship to income and is comparable across the variables of work setting, professional identity, and amount of forensic activity.

  • Neuropsychologists report higher job satisfaction than that reported for other jobs in the U.S. Fewer than 5% of respondents are considering changing job position.


Are you a neuropsychologist? Do you agree or disagree with these findings? Comment on this posting and let us know!

For the full results of this survey, see: Sweet, J. , Meyer, D., Giuffre , N., Nathaniel W., and Moberg, P. J. (2011). The TCN/AACN 2010 “Salary Survey”: Professional Practices, Beliefs, and Incomes of U.S. Neuropsychologists. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 25, 12-61.


Noted psychologist and violence prevention expert Dr. Lisa Firestone will be conducting a CE webinar for mental health professionals, as well as a free webinar for the public, this March and April. Dr. Firestone is the coauthor of several PAR publications including the Firestone Assessment of Self-Destructive Thoughts™ (FAST™) and the Firestone Assessment of Violent Thoughts ™ (FAVT™).

Violence Prevention: Understanding and Assessing Risk
A CE Webinar for Professionals with Dr. Lisa Firestone
Tuesday, March 8, 2011, 7:00–8:30 pm EST


The prodigious rates of violence in our country establish a need for an understanding and accurate assessment of violence risk. This webinar will address these concerns by providing participants with a developmental understanding of violence and a method for assessing violence risk.

To more effectively deal with the public health problem of violence, it is important to integrate knowledge from several disciplines to enhance our understanding of the many factors that contribute to an individual’s potential for violence. In this webinar, Dr. Firestone, a leading expert on violence, will integrate findings from the fields of neuroscience, attachment, and psychology.

Learning objectives for this webinar include:

  • understanding the core dynamics operating in clients at risk for violent behavior;

  • identifying clients’ negative thought patterns that influence self-destructive and violent behavior; and

  • utilizing assessment and interview techniques, based on static and dynamic risk factors, to effectively identify those at greatest risk for violent behavior.


This webinar offers two continuing education (CE) credits. Price: $25.

To learn more, visit  www.glendon.org and click on Upcoming Webinars; to register now, click on https://www3.gotomeeting.com/island/webinar/registration.tmpl?id=787421062.

Understanding and Preventing Violence
A Free Webinar for the public with Dr. Lisa Firestone
Tuesday, April 5, 2011, 2:00–3:00 pm EDT


What causes violence? How do you know if someone is at risk? What can you do if you—or someone you know—might be in trouble? This webinar will provide you with answers to these questions, as well as a developmental perspective on violence and the factors that contribute to violent behavior.

In this webinar, leading violence prevention expert Dr. Lisa Firestone will address some common questions on the topic, including what everyone should know about violence, how violence affects us, the signs of violent behavior, and how to stand up to violence.

To learn more, visit www.glendon.org and click on Upcoming Webinars; to register for this FREE webinar now, click on https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/558146001.
PAR staff are arriving in San Francisco to kick off the start of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Annual Convention. If you are attending NASP, be sure you stop by the PAR booth to take a look at some of our new products, including the Reynolds Child Depression Scale™–2nd Edition (RCDS™-2) and Reynolds Child Depression Scale™–2nd Edition: Short Form (RCDS™-2:SF), the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory–2™ Child and Adolescent (STAXI-2™ C/A), and the Emotional Disturbance Decision Tree™–Parent Form (EDDT™-PF).

Don’t forget, NASP attendees receive 15% off plus free shipping on all orders placed during the conference!


Don’t miss presentations by PAR authors Bryan Euler, Thomas Brunner, and Peter Isquith.
Lying, it seems, is a very common part of human interaction. In their book 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology (2010), Scott Lilienfeld and his colleagues cite studies in which college students and others in the community admit to lying once or twice a day, on average. But how hard is it to tell if someone is lying? Don’t liars give off tell-tale signs of their deceptions? In fact, research reveals surprisingly few valid cues of deception, and Lilienfeld asserts that “most of us are dead wrong about bodily cues that give away liars” (p. 116).

If people are poor judges of truthfulness in others, does technology offer a better solution? Is the polygraph, or lie-detector test, an accurate means of detecting dishonesty? Most Americans (67% in one study) believe that lie-detector tests are “reliable” or “useful,” and films and television programs tend to corroborate this belief with story lines that portray polygraph testing as infallible.

The science, however, tells a different story. Lilienfeld and his colleagues explain that rather than truthfulness, the polygraph machine simply measures physiological activity—and then it is up to the examiner to ask questions and interpret the results. Factors such as blood pressure, respiration, and sweating can offer clues to lying because they are associated with how anxious the examinee is during the test; however, anxiousness is not the exclusive domain of lying, and “an honest examinee who tends to sweat a lot might mistakenly appear deceptive, whereas a deceptive examinee who tends to sweat very little may mistakenly appear truthful” (p. 118).

Another problem is confirmation bias, that is, the tendency for polygraph examiners to see what they expect to see. Examiners may have a preconceived notion of the examinee’s guilt based on outside information. Further, information on countermeasures, or techniques to “beat the test,” is widely available on the internet.

Estimates of the accuracy of one popular form of the polygraph test, the Comparison Question Test, put it at 85% for guilty individuals and 60% for innocent individuals. “That 40% of honest examinees appear deceptive provides exceedingly poor protection for innocent suspects,” suggests Lilienfeld (p. 120).

Because of their limited validity, polygraph tests are rarely admissible in court, and federal law prohibits most employers from administering lie detectors. Yet the public perception is that polygraph tests are accurate measures of truthfulness. Are people simply vulnerable to the images they see in television and movies, or is there something else that makes us want a machine that can detect the truth?

We would like to hear your opinion on this topic, so please post a comment and let’s start the conversation!