Dr. Zumbahlen's training in dynamic assessment helps her learn about your child's capacity to form a relationship. She uses this relationship with the child to make fine distinctions among disorders in relatedness (e.g., social anxiety, pragmatic communication, autism spectrum disorder) and concentration (e.g., to differentiate bona fide ADHD from alterations in coping or mood), and to gain insight into the child's development in the context of broader relationships (e.g., the family, school, and community).
Unlike many clinicians, Dr. Zumbahlen's developmental background allows her to go beyond simply assigning a diagnostic label and listing a common set of recommendations. She emphasizes how the child's behavior may have developed over time in order to understand the interactions between the child's biology and the environment. She looks for organizing principles underlying diagnostic labels This focus on the developmental process helps families connect the dots in their child's development in order to develop a roadmap for therapeutic interventions.
Dr. Zumbahlen tailors her recommendations to each child's neurodevelopmental level, or developmental readiness for intervention. This approach helps families prioritize next steps and appropriately target intervention at home, school/work, and in therapy. By organizing recommendations in relation to important foundational skills, Dr. Zumbahlen helps parents and teachers understand the roadmap to rehabilitation and meet children where they are.
Dr. Zumbahlen's specialty in systematic observation allows her to capture essential information about a child's functioning by watching the child at school or home. This tool helps her evaluate infants and pre-verbal children. Dr. Zumbahlen uses naturalistic observation to generate practical recommendations tailored to each child's natural settings. The goal is to establish a better fit between the child's current neurological organization and the environment.
Dr. Zumbahlen draws upon her 30 years of experience in the field, as well as her personal experiences as a mother, to connect with families in an authentic manner. She understands that asking for help is a sign of strength: parents want to make their children's lives better. She aims to treat the whole child, including the family.
A developmental philosophy emphasizes the positive nature of children, a drive for growth and balance. Within this framework, children's atypical behaviors are believed to serve an inherent function for the child (e.g., compensating for an underlying vulnerability). Negative behaviors are addressed by treating the neurological vulnerability and actualizing personal strengths.