The Thompson Center takes pride in fulfilling its three-part mission of autism treatment, research and training on a daily basis. One of the highest priorities in fulfilling this mission is the training of psychology interns and post-doctoral fellows. This practice not only helps increase the number of patients Thompson Center providers can diagnose and treat, but it also helps fill the huge need for trained autism specialists around the country.
Over the next few weeks, the Thompson Center will highlight a few of our outgoing trainees to see how training at the Thompson Center has helped direct their career paths. Our final trainee spotlight is Dr. Colby Wiley, who spent the last two years at the Thompson Center as a post-doctoral fellow working in the Autism Neuropsychology Clinic.
When did you arrive at the Thompson Center?
I began working at the Thompson Center in September 2018.
What is your background before arriving at the TC?
I was born and raised in Texas. I have lived all over the state, but I call Houston home. I did my undergrad in psychology at Texas A&M and must have fallen in love because I stayed there for my master’s degree in Educational Psychology and doctorate in School Psychology, specializing in Pediatric Neuropsychology. But I wanted to see the world, so I completed my internship in pediatric neuropsychology in Hamilton, Ontario, just outside of Toronto, which set me up nicely for my transition to the Thompson Center.
Where are you headed now that you have finished your time training at the TC? What will be your title/role in this new position?
I have accepted a position at Northwestern Medicine, where I will be working as a Pediatric Neuropsychologist seeing a wide range of referrals from across Chicago.
What created the passion within you to pursue a career in this field?
My first interest in neuropsychology came from a personal experience. My younger sister was having extreme behavioral and emotional outbursts, but no one could figure out the diagnosis. Finally, her psychiatrist suggest she receive an EEG, which identified a rare seizure disorder. With proper treatment, my family was able to manage her outbursts and help her succeed. This instilled in me an interest in the myriad of ways the brain can affect our functioning, and from there I grew into a passion for understanding the brain and leveraging that to help families.
How did your time at the Thompson Center influence the direction of your career?
My time at the Center helped me to see that the patients I most enjoyed working with were the ones with multiple comorbidities and complex needs. Working in the Autism Neuropsychology Clinic, where we frequently see children with not only ASD but multiple comorbidities impacting their functioning, helped me to see that the greatest role I can play in a family’s life is to integrate all of the information they are getting from multiple specialists and develop a comprehensive treatment plan, triaging services for maximal effect.
What is the most valuable thing you learned while working at the Thompson Center?
One of the most valuable things I’ve learned working at the Center was the value of having such a diversity of specialists in a wide range of fields available for consultation just down the hall. I’ve worked in multidisciplinary teams in the past, but being able to pop in and ask a question of someone who is such a specialist in their field, whether it be a psychologist, speech/language therapist, occupational therapist, behavior therapist, or developmental pediatrician was such a great experience not just in my training but in serving the families that we see.
Any last thoughts about your time at the Thompson Center?
I’ve worked with some wonderful colleagues here at the Center. The people I have worked with have been passionate and caring in the work they do with families every day, and I feel I’ve made professional and personal connections that will stay with me for a lifetime.