Deven’s Story: How We’re Evolving Services

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Dr. Jennifer Saltzman-Benaiah, a neuropsychologist with CTN's Psychological Services, shares her unique approach when working with kids who have disabilities and their families.

“Flexibility is key when working with children who have complex needs,” according to Dr. Saltzman-Benaiah. “A flexible approach embraces each child’s unique strengths, needs, development and relationships.” It’s an approach that made all the difference for CTN parent Kelly and her 10-year-old son, Deven, who loves video games, swimming and all things Super Mario Bros. At 21 months, Deven was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Despite his early diagnosis, he didn’t receive therapy until he was six years old because of lengthy wait times to access service. By then, he had started school, where his needs were misunderstood, and his difficulties at school were thought to be due to his behaviour. On top of this, Deven started to experience stroke-like symptoms, that were only later diagnosed as hemiplegic migraines. Deven was referred to CTN Psychological Services, where he was seen for a specialized neuropsychological assessment by Dr. SaltzmanBenaiah. The in-depth testing and individualized approach provided Kelly and Deven’s school team with the critical information needed to meet his learning and developmental needs at home and at school. This experience is precisely the response that Dr. Saltzman-Benaiah and her team are striving for. “We want families to feel engaged with their child’s assessment so that the information is meaningful and helpful in determining next steps for intervention and advocacy,” she says. “The great thing is that CTN is flexible in how we meet individual children’s needs during their assessments, and we can continually adjust our focus so that we are providing the best service to the community.” This included expanding the original role for CTN psychologists almost 12 years ago, to include her specialized training as a neuropsychologist, bringing expertise to new areas like brain injury.

For families, CTN’s ability to evolve to meet the needs of clients and communities ensures continuous growth in how we deliver services. An impactful difference for clients like Deven.

Deven's story was first shared in CTN's 2020-21 Annual Report.