For more than 30 years, Dr. Michael Rizzo (A.K.A. Coach Mike) has worked with children (and their families) who struggle with understanding and managing social, emotional, behavioral, and/or academic difficulties. Dr. Rizzo is no stranger to these challenges, as he himself struggled as a child with what was later diagnosed as chronic childhood illness, ADHD, Anxiety, and Dyslexia. Unaware of the depth and range of his challenges, he and those who loved him were perplexed by his lack of success in many venues of life. His challenges led to academic failures, incredible frustration, and family conflict.
Despite these difficulties, Dr. Rizzo never gave up! On his journey toward completing his education, he took many detours, which later served as a rich experiential base from which to understand the world outside of academia. Eventually, at the age of 29, he finished college and entered graduate training. Against all odds, while working full-time as a school psychologist in the public-school system, a 38-year-old Mike Rizzo completed his Ph.D. In 2014, going beyond his Ph.D. training, Dr. Rizzo earned his Diplomate in School Neuropsychology from the American Board of School Neuropsychology.
In 1998, after 10 years of working as a school psychologist in public education, Dr. Rizzo was recruited to develop the Psychology Department at Miami Children’s Hospital Dan Marino Outpatient Center in Weston, Florida. Since the early days, his group has expanded far beyond the walls of this facility.
Over his professional career, Dr. Rizzo has developed conceptual models that clearly delineate the neurocognitive processes necessary for success. Understanding the root causes of less than desired outcomes in learning and mood regulation is where the true starting point in addressing children’s shortcomings should begin. Children are not lazy, anxious, unmotivated, and non-compliant by design. When the appropriate environment to succeed has been provided, yet a child is struggling, it is typically the cognitive architecture/brain system that is precluding the child from success.
Over the past 30 years or so, many school psychologists, clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, behaviorists, specialized tutors, speech-language pathologists, and most importantly teachers, have been trained by Dr. Rizzo to understand the neurobiology of learning and behavior. This must always be the starting point in understanding why a child is not doing as well as expected.
Additionally, more than 25,000 School Neuropsychological Evaluations have been conducted by Dr. Rizzo and his team since 1988. As a component to these evaluations, Dr. Rizzo and his team also helps to tweak the learning environment, related supports, and parenting styles to the uniqueness of each child’s brain. Thus, a child’s family, teachers, and any other professionals working with them have the opportunity to understand and assist the child to maximize their personal potential and feel success.
Currently, Child Provider Specialists’ staff provides support to families and schools throughout Southern Florida (Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Collier Counties). Dr. Rizzo’s philosophy is that no child is lazy! By specializing in the innovative science of the brain, and how brain design directly impacts learning and personal success, he has dedicated his life to ensure that he and those he has mentored understand children who are neuro-diverse. That is, their brains work differently; they are not broken!