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My name is Katie Rose Turlik and I am a senior from the suburbs of Washington DC majoring in psychology. My research interests focus on the relationship between neuroscience and clinical psychology and how the connection between these two fields can be used in the study of neurodevelopmental disabilities. Since my junior year, I have been working as a research assistant in the developmental science lab of Dr. Peter Ornstein where we study the impacts of suggestive interviews and parent-child conversations on children’s memory. I am thankful to have been given the chance to obtain clinical exposure through the Karen M. Gil internship and I hope to use the skills I have gained as an intern to pursue a PhD in clinical neuropsychology.

My research experiences and work as a behavioral therapist for individuals with autism have ignited my passion for studying neurodevelopmental disabilities and I was thrilled to be matched with the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD). The CIDD is dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities and their families. Interdisciplinary teams, which include psychologists, speech-language pathologists, audiologists and occupational therapists, offer diagnostic evaluations for those suspected of a developmental disability and guidance on potential treatment plans and intervention services. The clinical teams provide services for a large range of disabilities. As an intern, I have seen individuals with autism, intellectual disabilities, speech and language difficulties and Angelman Syndrome. The CIDD also conducts innovative research on the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disabilities, including world-renowned studies on autism. Observing the neuroimaging research for these studies has been an incredible experience. I have learned about this research in psychology and neuroscience courses on campus and being able to witness it firsthand has been remarkable.

My primary role as an intern has been to work with psychologists during clinical evaluations. I view psychological assessments, record my observations and share my findings with the team during diagnostic evaluations. I have also learned how various psychometric tests are administered, how to score these tests and how to interpret the results. This has allowed me to take an active part in clinical evaluations and to gain skills that I look forward to utilizing on my path to clinical neuropsychology. Through this experience, I have discovered that neurodevelopmental disabilities and their clinical presentations can vary tremendously depending on the individual. Each person who visits CIDD has a unique medical and family history. I have seen how the clinical team is able to adapt to support everyone they work with. This includes patients with severe language and hearing difficulties and those who are non-native speakers. I have been most impressed by the compassionate care each clinician has provided. Observing patient-clinician interactions and interviews with family members has reminded me that the ultimate goal of clinical work is to help improve the lives of patients and their families.

My experiences as an intern have greatly improved my professional confidence. I am grateful for all that I have learned about neurodevelopmental disabilities at CIDD and I look forward to learning more about this field of work. The Gil Internship has guided me during my transition from undergraduate education to graduate school. I want to thank the clinicians who have mentored me at CIDD and Dr. Buzinski and Chelsea Ewing for their invaluable support.

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