Why did you choose to enter the field of psychology?
As the brother of a deaf individual with developmental disabilities, I was intimately familiar with the needs of such individuals, their families, and their educators, and well aware of the paucity of services. I studied speech and hearing sciences/psychology at the University of Michigan and found myself fitting well in psychology. While working as an interpreter, interpreting everything from astrophysics to rock climbing and sailing to the courtroom, I interpreted for a psychological assessment, and quickly realized how much the interpreting process interfered with the assessment. After spending the next few years traveling with a theater of the deaf where I worked with children around the country, I decided that a doctorate in psychology would enable me to have the greatest flexibility in pursuing my goals of serving the needs of deaf children and individuals with disabilities. The program in Child Clinical Psychology and Law at the University at Buffalo was very well-suited to my goals.
What made you decide initially to develop the Tasks of Executive Control™ (TEC™)?
My colleagues and I had long been interested in executive functions from a developmental perspective. Given the challenges inherent in assessing these self-regulatory processes, we previously focused on ecological validity, resulting in the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function® (BRIEF®) family of instruments. We were also aware of the “molar,” or composite, nature of our extant performance tests of executive function, and sought a means of capturing the most fundamental aspects of executive function, namely working memory and inhibitory control, in a developmentally sensitive, easily administered, and repeatable way that took advantage of recent development in neuroscience. Some six or seven years later, the Tasks of Executive Control was launched.
What would you like to tell people about the TEC that they may not know?
The TEC is unique. It brings established neuroscience methods to clinical assessment to facilitate evaluation of how students cognitively manage increasing demands on working memory and inhibitory control over a more naturalistic, extended time period. We took advantage of current statistical methods for evaluating change over time, both within and between TEC administrations, and provided an abundance of measures that psychologists can examine. While the learning curve is likely steep given the newness of the measure and concepts, we believe it is worth the climb.
What would you like to tell people about yourself that they may not know?
I am a full-time clinician with specialty in pediatric neuropsychology, working in an independent practice and in schools. The ideas for assessment approaches come from my own clinical work and that of my colleagues. In this way, I am an “accidental” test author. Developing measures with my colleagues in practice and with PAR, Inc. has been very rewarding work.
How do you spend your free time?
Most of my free time is spent with my family, typically coaching my daughters through homework and attending their soccer, basketball, and softball games or coaching skiing. The only exception is Monday nights when I relive my youth and play bass in a rock band.