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Diverse Thinking Different Learning

Apr 4, 2023

Research has shown that family environment is a significant predictor of outcomes when it comes to traumatic brain injuries. But how can family environment, things like parenting, intimacy, and communication styles impact outcomes in children and adolescents with learning challenges?

Turns out, family environment has a huge impact on the way every child’s brain develops and Dr. Jesse Fischer joins the conversation today to help us understand how. In this episode, Dr. Fischer, a licensed clinical neuropsychologist specializing in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment planning, explains what family environment factors are and how they are taken into consideration when assessing a child with learning differences. Many of these factors actually change the way the brain develops, but because of the brain’s plasticity, it’s never too late to make a change if needed. 


Show Notes:

[2:32] - There’s a huge emphasis on the academic side of learning support, but family environment is also important.

[4:16] - With a comprehensive assessment, more than academic testing is looked at.

[5:27] - Family environment factors are not looked at in a way to place any kind of blame, but to understand the level of support possible for the child.

[6:55] - When it comes to traumatic brain injuries, family environment is a significant predictor of outcomes.

[8:56] - Certain factors stand out like caregiver/child relationships and caregiver strain.

[10:51] - These factors are impactful but are modifiable.

[14:03] - Parenting styles can buffer some of the issues that pop up. Research shows that nurturing and warm parenting styles predict better outcomes.

[15:56] - Family environments show differences in the trajectory of brain development.

[18:28] - With resource support, families can find access to the opportunities they need.

[19:16] - Family-focused intervention and family counseling has been proven to be effective.

[20:29] - What can we as a society do to promote strong family environments through support and policies that allow parents to provide what they want for their families?

[23:20] - Clinicians can promote positive family environments through clear communication, advocating for policy change, and providing resources.

[25:10] - The plasticity of the developing brain lasts into a person’s 20s. We have multiple opportunities throughout development to intervene.

[26:51] - Your body, including your brain, is one big system and all of these factors are connected.

[29:08] - It’s worth the struggle to get at these factors and find ways to optimize sleep, physical activity, and nutrition.

[32:24] - If resources are a barrier, there are avenues in the community that can help.

[33:47] - Reach out to a professional if you need additional support and guidance.


About Our Guest:

Dr. Jesse Fischer is a licensed clinical neuropsychologist who specializes in assessment of children, adolescents, and young adults who think and learn differently. His clinical expertise includes assessment, diagnosis, academic and treatment planning for individuals with neurodevelopmental concerns (e.g., Dyslexia, AD/HD), traumatic brain injury/concussion, epilepsy, emotional difficulties, and other complex medical conditions. Dr. Fischer sees children and families in Los Angeles, where he was born and raised. Dr. Fischer's most recent research has focused on the role of the family environment and early childhood stress (e.g., trauma, brain injury) on brain development, neural correlates of neuropsychological problems following TBI, as well as interventions to enhance recovery from sports concussion and more severe TBI.


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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.