Ep. 44: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder with Lisa L. Hancock, Ph.D., MBA

Aug 24, 2021 | 0 comments

1 in 54 children in the United States are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. With this number growing, it would make sense that this is a very well understood disorder. Unfortunately there is a lot of confusion surrounding ASD, what it looks like, and what to do about it. Because of this confusion, I knew we needed an expert to help us better understand and that is Dr. Lisa Hancock.

Dr. Hancock is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, those who are twice-exceptional, and those who are highly gifted. She has worked for many years helping families navigate both public and private school systems and provides neuropsychological assessments to determine underlying issues in children, teens, and even adults.


In today’s episode, Dr. Hancock paints a clearer picture of what Autism Spectrum Disorder is, why there is confusion surrounding it, and what it could look like in children and adults. She helps us better navigate understanding of this large umbrella term and leaves us wanting to learn more.


Show Notes:

[3:16] – Prior to 2013, there was a distinctive difference between Autism, Asperger’s, and other terms. Dr. Hancock explains why there was a difference.

[4:29] – After 2013, Autism and Asperger’s were put under one umbrella term and pulled out Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder.

[5:40] – Dr. Hancock understands why Autism and Asperger’s are grouped together but explains why those in the field will use both terms to explain to parents.

[8:33] – Dr. Hancock is one that can and will diagnose Autism in adults that were previously missed.

[9:28] – The tests used in diagnosing are different depending on the age of the child.

[10:18] – There is a test that is commonly used that Dr. Hancock does not use. 

[13:00] – Diagnosing Autism could be missed for a variety of reasons.

[14:33] – Age 4 and 5 is the window of noticeable unusual behavior.

[15:45] – What is the child capable of doing but isn’t doing consistently?

[18:03] – There is no standard for diagnosing Autism in teens and adults in the United States. This causes some adults to realize they may have been misdiagnosed.

[19:50] – Dr. Hancock developed a battery for measuring Autism in adults.

[22:29] – Those with Autism Spectrum Disorder and a developmental or intellectual delay are often diagnosed by a pediatrician. Dr. Hancock sees children that have less noticeable symptoms.

[24:00] – One challenge is determining if the child is showing above average intelligence.

[25:15] – Dr. Hancock explains the patterns in birth history, learning disabilities, eating issues, sleeping issues, and auditory processing.

[26:18] – Social issues in early years are harder to pinpoint especially when children attend the same school for several years.

[27:29] – Dr. Hancock describes some social issues that could vary depending on the child in question.

[29:12] – There is confusion around children being able to outgrow symptoms. But they still struggle with certain things but you just don’t see it due to learning how to blend.

[31:01] – Why is it important to have a diagnosis?

[33:10] – A lot of parents don’t want to tell the child’s school about a diagnosis due to negative bias. But Dr. Hancock explains why this is not a good idea.

[34:06] – Dr. Hancock discusses safety and aggression in those with Autism.

[36:03] – There are things that are impacted that aren’t generally thought about.

[37:28] – We need to believe children when they say that they don’t know or can’t know instead of assuming that they don’t want to do something.


About Our Guest:

Dr. Lisa Hancock is a licensed clinical psychologist who provides neuropsychological assessments, counseling, and psychotherapy to children, teens, families, couples, and adults. She has experience with neurodevelopmental, learning, processing, anxiety, and mood disorders; including ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, dyslexia, math and writing disorders, dysgraphia, auditory and visual processing, communication and language disorders, anxiety disorders, conduct disorders, and depressive disorders. Dr. Hancock is experienced in conducting Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE); as well as supporting parents through the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) process.


Additionally, she specializes in working with twice-exceptional individuals (those who are gifted and have concurrent learning or developmental challenges) as well as with individuals who are highly gifted. Dr. Hancock has worked as a Gifted Advocate for many years helping families of gifted and twice-exceptional children navigate both public and private school systems; has taken Master’s level coursework in gifted education; and holds her MBA. She is certified by SENG as a parent support group Trainer and Master Facilitator; is a Certified Autism Specialist; is a Trained Grief Specialist; is a former and current member of the PG Retreat Board; serves on the Application Review Team for PG Retreat; and speaks regularly at local, state, and national gifted conferences. Dr. Hancock also works with school and district administrators to provide teacher in-service training; conducts parent education workshops; and provides presentations at area schools and community events.


Connect with Dr. Hancock:

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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.