LAURA OTIS, M.A.
Laura Otis, who joined our clinic in 2002, brings substantial experience to her role as senior assessor. Laura holds an M.A. in psychology from York University and has a diverse background in psychological testing, social and cross-cultural research, and South Asian performing arts. She works with clients of all ages from 4 years to adult and is highly knowledgeable in a range of assessments including Gifted, Learning Disabilities, ADHD, and social-emotional concerns. She has also worked with sensitive populations including children in foster care, in treatment programs, youth in custody programs, FASD and ASD. As a parent and professional, Laura is aware of the challenges that Exceptional Learners (Gifted LD, ADHD, ASD, etc.) and their families may encounter at school, at home, and in the community. She brings a high degree of professionalism, perceptiveness, and a sense of humour to her work.
Although I have been working with Dr. Blackstock and subsequently, Valentin & Blackstock for many years, I am still intrigued by the art of conducting psychoeducational assessments. Despite having interacted with hundreds of students, I always keep in mind that it may be the first assessment for the person in front of me. As an assessor, my goal is to be sensitive to possible anxieties, establish a comfortable environment, be curious, thoughtful, and make the experience as positive and worthwhile as possible.
My experience as a parent of (now adult) children with various exceptionalities has made me acutely aware of the many stresses that parents face both at home and at school, as well as the need to be flexible and change one’s expectations and role over time. Parents typically focus on their children’s very real needs, but may neglect to take care of their own. It can be helpful for families to seek support so that they and the entire family function optimally. I call this the “Parent Survival Plan” and work with parents to implement the “PSP” at home as well as the IEP recommendations at school.
In addition to my work related to psychoeducational assessments, I also counsel adolescents and young adults. I enjoy working with this particular age group as they are often at a point in their lives in which they are making important decisions about their future and dealing with the emotional complications of independence.
What should clients know about me? I am straightforward. I say what I mean and avoid giving false praise. I believe that honesty, curiosity, patience, respect, and especially humour are essential parts of a successful helping relationship.