References and Testimonials

Numerous past clients have agreed to act as references. Any of the listed people can help you decide if working with Deborah Ruf would be worthwhile and helpful for you. Please feel free to contact any of them by e-mail.

References and Testimonials

Gifted Children and School(s)
Giftedness or Learning Disability
Personality Assessment Value
Consultation Value
Long Distance Consulting
Gifted Adults


Gifted Children and School(s) (Top of Page)

Our assumption going into the testing was that our younger son’s scores would all fall in a lower level of giftedness than our older son’s. After reading his results and Dr. Ruf’s report, we understood that even though we didn't see him doing the things we saw his older brother doing unusually early (puzzles / visual-spatial memorization), it didn't mean that he was at a lower level in the range of giftedness. He was just showing "different" strengths unusually early. It's amazing...without Dr. Ruf, we don't think we ever would have fully understood that! If our younger son had continued to "play school" well in a traditional classroom, we may have always assumed that it was the appropriate learning setting for him. (He was not showing the warning signs of being under-challenged that his older brother had shown, mainly because their personalities are so different.)

Mr. & Mrs. Turnbull


One thing you mentioned that has stayed with me is about finding one's soul mate. [Our son] is far from that point, but I know in my heart that what you said is important and it makes our participation in Davidson and other like activities important in that respect and for just friendship with peers . . . realizing that he has to be able to be among others who might share some of his thought processes, delights, and, as you said at the time, his jokes.

Parents of a young, profoundly gifted boy


When I was growing up I was miserably bored and had few friends until I got to high school. I vowed that if I had a gifted child, I would do all I could to prevent the same dismal academic and social scenario. When my son Oren came along, I knew he was unusually bright from very early on, but I also found that even in private schools with good reputations, he was unchallenged and socially ostracized, no matter how I fought for him. He was labeled with ADHD and put on stimulants—a diagnosis I now believe was mistaken. We got some respite in seventh grade when he switched to a tiny school for gifted children 20 miles from our home. Freshman year in high school was a social improvement, but an academic disaster. He would not do homework or study for tests, and was literally flunking out of our magnet public high school for the gifted and talented. I had read Deborah’s book, since I am a psychologist myself and was trying to figure out how to help Oren. After a phone consultation, we decided to fly to Minnesota so that she could test Oren in person. The IQ test was not a major revelation, although focusing on learning styles was a help. Perhaps the biggest insight, other than Oren’s feeling validated for his strengths, was from our Meyers-Briggs testing. I already had taken the Meyers-Briggs and accepted what it said about my personality style—one that has been compared to Iron Maggie Thatcher or General Patton! I had focused, however, on how my son and I were alike, and his profile turned out to be almost totally the opposite of mine. Deborah told us that our combination of styles was the most common one she sees when a parent brings in an underachieving, gifted child. “When you had boring homework,” she said, “you probably just told yourself to do it and get it out of the way, right?” I acknowledged this was true. “But when Oren gets a boring assignment, he thinks, ‘This is stupid and meaningless, so why should I do it?’” I began to see my son’s creativity and artistic side in a new way, and was able to let go of some of my expectations for how he should be doing in school. Since then, we have found an all-tutorial private school that Oren really enjoys. He is making A’s and also progressing rapidly with his guitar playing. Our relationship has improved, too, although we still have struggles over slobbiness! Our consultations with Deborah helped us both get through a difficult period.

Leslie Schover


Dr Ruf tested all four of our children.  Initially, we only planned to have our daughter tested for early entrance to kindergarten.  She is adopted from China and is a November birthday.  She was very verbal and precocious in every way.  With three older brothers she was exposed to a lot of people and stimulus all the time.  Without having any background, we thought it would be helpful to have her tested.  Although she was not granted early entrance at the local elementary, the test results and all the information we received from Dr Ruf continue to help us as we navigate the school system.  We only kept our daughter in the local school for one year and we were thrilled when a Chinese Immersion school opened in St Paul.  We were confident she could handle the rigorous curriculum and the new language.

We were so happy with all the insight we received about our daughter that we decided to have all three of our boys tested.  At the time they were already in middle school and high school but we felt the information would help guide us and make college choices easier.

Our oldest son always seemed bright to us but in the early years we had a teacher who wanted him placed in a remedial program.  I always thought that he was just daydreaming most of the time and it turns out he was.  He tested very high and would have been better served if we had known the information sooner.  He became a lazy student because he was never stimulated.  He always talked about how frustrated he was with all of the repetition.  Dr Ruf picked up on this right away and questioned him further.  He was not surprised by his results but it has given him a lot of confidence and he is currently at the University of Minnesota and plans to be an English teacher.

Our second son was always a perfectionist and in middle school it became a problem because he was so concerned about getting good grades.  He did not have the memory skills of his older brother and hence felt he needed to prove himself with better grades.  When he saw his results it changed him completely.  He no longer fretted over his grades and he became a different child.  Dr Ruf told him he was probably frustrated because he could see better ways to run the classroom and school.  His abilities are in a totally different area than his older brother.  We transfered him to St Paul Academy and he thrived in the more challenging environment.  He is now a Physics major at the University of Minnesota.

Our youngest was always the one recognized in the public schools.  He was a successful student but also one who was easy to teach and well liked by his peers and teachers.  His results showed that he could handle more of a challenge.  He is now at St Paul Academy as well.  It is a push for him to keep up, but we were well informed by Dr Ruf that he had the capabilities to attend such a rigorous school.  He may not be a top student but he handles it well and benefits from all the social and athletic participation.

We would have never been so confident in our decisions to move our children to different schools if we hadn't tested our children.  Dr Ruf had information about each of our children based on their scores and personalities.  All of our children were much happier when we moved them into the right environment.

Gretchen & Todd Wenzel

Our experience with Dr. Ruf still remains one of the most important steps we have taken in becoming better parents, not only for our son, who went through the evaluation with Dr. Ruf, but also for our daughter, who is just 12 months younger. 

Educational Options

No one we have met in the school/academic environment has had the "guts" or the knowledge to help us as Dr. Ruf has.  We went to her to get an evaluation of our son's intelligence from a professional that did not have a vested interest in our son.  Dr. Ruf was exactly what we were looking for and she delivered exactly what we asked for.  When we would address our concerns with our son's teachers over his boredom and the slow pace of learning in the classroom, all we would hear was either "oh you are so lucky to have such an easy child when it comes to school work" or "why would you want to push your child."  The teachers gave us zero solutions for solving his needs.  Dr. Ruf helped us in so many ways to direct us in filling our son's life with challenge, fulfillment, and ultimately greater joy in his life.  Her recommendations of reading materials, that she picked out specifically for us, also brought us great knowledge. I reread these books and refer to them often.

Colleen and Tom Quinn

The best thing is that he absolutely LOVES math now! He has not once balked at going to school and, in fact, was upset one day when he was sick and missed school! What a change. You were so very right about "fixing math." We are so glad to have made the trip up there!


Johnson, Debra and Scott


"Our family adventure with Educational Options started in August of 2003. Our son was about to start kindergarten and something told us that school was not going to be an easy process. We found Dr. Ruf online when looking into educational testing. Dr. Ruf met with our son and then met with us. I am not sure that words can really describe what we were feeling at that moment. When Dr. Ruf gave us the news about our son's abilities, I think panic, fear, excitement and bewilderment would best describe what we were feeling. The attention to detail in her report, what we would expect from schools, how to advocate and parent our exceptional learner was advice that was and continues to be priceless for us. Over the years, I still go back to her written report to make sure that I understand a new issue or challenge. I have not heard from others that this type of report happens with other Drs. The report gave us insight all the way from his kindergarten years through college. There have been many calls, some in tears, asking advice and every single call has been answered with great experience and compassion. We have a saying in our extended family that Dr. Ruf is our "lifeline".

When our second child starting having issues with school, also in Kindergarten, the first person I called was Dr. Ruf. With our daughter, Dr. Ruf walked us through very carefully where she tested, what some issues were she discovered and how we should handle this going forward. The fact that I can bounce school issues off of Dr. Ruf and asking what she would do, what should I tell teacher etc is a relief to a family going through school with children who learn differently. Because our children's abilities do not fit a mold and not many people understand how to "cope" with this makes our experience with Educational Options even greater. If parents have not gone through the day to day with gifted children, others think it must be easy…the pressure on parents to make sure their kids are on track, happy and balanced creates tremendous pressure on parents.

Dr. Ruf has helped advocate for our son by both meeting with his school, looking at curriculm and getting information to us on programs that would best suit our son. Her years of study and experience have given us the resources to be educated on gifted education and because of this, we feel we have the education to speak for our son.

What else can I say…Dr. Ruf is family…she has a special place in our hearts.

Long-term clients

We feel extremely lucky to have found Dr. Ruf so early in our children's educational "career". We knew our son Charlie processed and retained information differently than most kids his age but we really didn't know what to do with that knowledge.  Dr. Ruf confirmed and explained Charlie's educational and social needs. Her consultation was a crash course in parenting a gifted boy and we left with stacks of articles, books and concrete information to find the school and activities that would best serve him. Two years later our daughter Lily was also tested by Dr. Ruf and we learned even more...this time about parenting a gifted girl. We learned there really is a difference in the educational needs of boys and girls and also that our parenting needed to be different for each child as well. We feel like Dr. Ruf's analysis saved us a lot of time and confusion in knowing where our kids should attend school and whether acceleration was a good option for them.  As it turned out, both our children were accelerated one grade and this option has worked out beautifully.

Dr. Ruf is connected to so many different organizations that support gifted kids. Educationally and socially she wants to see them connect and find real peers, not just "agemates".  One of her suggestions was MENSA, which we thought was only for adults.  Dr. Ruf assured us that MENSA has an active children's membership and we have found this organization to be a great social tool for Charlie and Lily, who enjoy meeting like-minded kids in a non-competitive, fun environment.

In the long term, Dr. Ruf's information helped us deal with many of the common issues facing gifted children before they became issues for us.  Our kids have never complained that school is so boring they don’t want to go or that they don’t have any friends who really understand them.  From much of what I have read these are big issues that have long term effects on kids and their success into adulthood. Dr. Ruf alerted us to some of the problems we might face in the future and, so far, being proactive has saved us much headache and heartache.  Our kids are happy, don't feel "out of place" at school or socially and continue to amaze us each and every day.

Mike and Beth Dempsey

I truly have found Dr. Ruf to be life altering in the understanding of my children and the guidance toward several resources, including her own book, as justification for demanding more out of the current educational system.

Allison St. Clair Nelson


Giftedness or Learning Disability (Top of Page)

First, some background.  We met with Dr. Ruf just once, I think, (maybe twice?) so our contact with her has been pretty limited.  And she hasn't met [our son].

Our son has Asperger's Syndrome, so he is a member of the "twice-exceptional" community.  School was always a difficult fit for him, both because of the challenging social environment and because he was so far ahead of most of the other children academically.  His brother attends a local independent school where the academic environment is more challenging than what public schools typically offer, but the private schools don't have the infrastructure in place to handle special-needs children like our son.  We looked at several of the metro-area gifted public magnet schools and decided that they weren't a good fit for our son, either.

In his fifth-grade year (2007-2008) we decided to partially homeschool him.  He went to school for his special services related to Asperger's Syndrome and for certain classes, like art, that he enjoyed and that we couldn't easily replicate at home.  Generally, the year was a success.  His elementary school ended in fifth grade, however, so we were faced with what to do for middle and high schools.  We sought the advice of several consultants, one of whom was Dr. Ruf.

Through Dr. Ruf, we found out about the Lighthouse Program in the Spring Lake Park school district, which is a program for highly-gifted children. It is like no school I have ever seen before.  After visiting it, I thought, "If I could design a school, it would look like this."  We applied, our son was accepted, and (so far) it has been working exceedingly well.  (I am writing this in late September 2008, about three weeks into the school year.)  I feel like our son has found his tribe. For that we have Dr. Ruf to thank.

The other main benefit to meeting with Dr. Ruf was to gain some perspective on what it means to be the parents of someone like our son. Our son's problems at school stemmed, in part, from his Asperger's Syndrome, but (according to Dr. Ruf) even without the Asperger's he would be having a hard time. If there is a mis-match between a child and an environment like a school, the typical thing to do is to try to change the child, to make him able to fit in. But obviously that wasn't working for us. So we left the meeting with Dr. Ruf with some relief (our son isn't a "bad kid") but also some trepidation ("will we ever find a place where he fits in?"). 

Fortunately we have found an environment (the Lighthouse Program) where our son seems at home.  However, the Lighthouse doesn't run 24/7, and we now know that if a situation isn't working for our son (such as a summer-camp "enrichment" program that doesn't live up to its promise), there's no point in having our son stick it out.  This demands greater flexibility on our part (whatever happened to that free time I thought I was going to have?), but overall I think we're a much happier family as a result.

As part of gaining perspective on what it means to be the parents of someone like our son, Dr. Ruf told us about her model of the five levels of giftedness. Our son is at the high end of the range, which explains why generic programs for "gifted" kids often leave him less than enthused.  Again, it was refreshing to meet with someone who understood our situation and could tell us that we were blessed with a challenging situation.

Stephen J. Smela, Ph.D. (a.k.a. Steve Smela)

Educational Options

Dr. Ruf tested our son when he was six and a half.  Her follow-up report and parental counseling helped us understand Andy's educational, creative and emotional needs.  She provided us many articles and books that we read, especially her own book.  Over the past four years she has always been available by email for questions and in-person counseling.  She has provided much encouragement along the difficult road of raising a bright child.  She also has raised several bright, creative children herself, so she speaks from personal experience.  I would highly recommend her services to anyone with a gifted child."

Deborah and Scott Harris

Personality Assessment Value (Top of Page)

I think the Myers Briggs testing was almost as important as the IQ testing. That has helped me understand the dynamics of our family, especially since I am the "odd man out" in so many ways. Knowing how we think alike and differently has helped me understand the daily dynamics in ways I would have only guessed at before (and probably have doubted my own conjectures).

Mother of a young gifted boy


Right now we feel that we have the tools to bring to our son's school to show them what he needs to be successful.

The personality typing was helpful to better understand why he does the things he does and will be very helpful for his teacher.

It also helped him a lot to feel validated for what he was feeling and experiencing, now knowing that he is gifted and NOT a bad kid.

At the end of the day we are grateful for Dr. Ruf's services because after 3 years we now understand that our son did not have behavior problems but was indeed very smart and very bored and greatly misunderstood.  This will help us help him tremendously in the future.

One last point:  His doctor, that we no longer see, told us that our son's test results for ADHD were inconclusive but he felt that we should just say that he has ADHD for the sake of calling his problem something.  Note that our son sat still in the doctor's office for 1.5 hours without moving, with answering all of the doctor's questions.  The doctor also did not do any of the other type of tests you would normally run to see if a child really had ADHD.  None of his teachers ever felt our son had ADHD and we thought we were getting a general behavior test done, but I guess he was an EXPERT in ADHD so likely was the only thing he knew how to diagnose.

When our son was 5 he had general behavior tests done and again when nothing specific showed up she told us that he had ODD, we lived under that assumption for the last couple of years and thankfully found out that he did not have that either by Dr. Ruf."

Kate and Bruce Shriver

When I first contacted Dr. Ruf and was sent the information, I was very reluctant to do the personality profiles. I didn't really see how that would help me to understand my child's giftedness. Wow! Was I wrong. Knowing my child's personality and how it interacted with her intelligence level really shed a lot of light on who she was. The entire time Dr. Ruf was going over it, I was thinking..."Wow, that is her." and "That explains why she does this."

Donna and Stewart Richardson

I have gone back to my notes many times to rediscover that our son is wired in a fashion that keeps him from conforming … it is not that he cannot do the work, or that his IQ is the issue.  But rather, he will never sell his soul when asked to do something outside of his internal code of ethics.  This piece of his wiring would have been ignored completely if it were not for the personality assessment Deborah  conducted.

If it were not for the counseling we received regarding personality types and how each personality works in our family, we would still be expecting pure perfection from our smart boys because they are smart and capable, right?  Instead, we have the tools to see them as who they are.  They may be smart and capable but that does not mean that they will be motivated to perform for all of their teachers.  The counseling had as much to do with personality as it did figuring out what motivates each child.  And, this has opened up a new avenue of discussion with our boys regarding achieving a goal appropriate for them versus performing perfectly because they are smart.

Sue Strobel

Educational Options

We went to Dr. Ruf in the summer of 2007.  We wanted to explore our options in educating our three children but felt we needed more information both about our children and about what options were out there.

Dr. Ruf helped us with each category, for each child.  She had everyone in the family take a personality profile.  I wasn’t opposed to this but didn’t think it would be that important. I was wrong, the profiles and explanations continue to help us understand our family dynamics better, and have been a positive experience for us.

Dr. Ruf tested all three of our children.  They enjoyed the tests with Dr. Ruf, she put them all at ease.  We learned their giftedness levels and just as importantly their learning styles.  Dr. Ruf then explored options with us for each of our children.  She provided us options for schooling to look into, options for networking and meeting other families with gifted kids, and options for longer term planning.

We continue to consult with Dr. Ruf and are glad to have her in our corner.

Kevin and Jennifer Farner

Consultation Value (Top of Page)

I can hardly believe that only about  a year has gone by since I began "Googling" with words like gifted, intelligence testing, child IQ, etc. It was then that I first discovered Dr. Ruf's name and promptly called to inquire about testing for our son and daughter. Little did I know that within weeks our lives would be completely re-envisioned.

Joe and I had always been aware that our kids were smart, but we did not know to what extent.  We were having trouble with our son being bored in school and were afraid that we may experience the same thing with our daughter (who was preparing to start Kindergarten) as well. We decided to have both of them evaluated by Dr. Ruf. We never gave our own intelligence and potential a lot of thought, and frankly, we thought that was beside the point. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Not only did Dr. Ruf give us a clear, detailed vision of our kids' capabilities and potential, but she was careful to point out and analyze our strengths as well. She shared so much insight about the genetics of giftedness and also gave us time to reflect on our own lives. The perspective she gave was refreshing and honest.  I came out of the consultation knowing our lives would never be the same. I knew I needed to use all of our talents and gifts (not just the kids) to the best of my ability. I was inspired.

Since that meeting I have read countless (okay, maybe someone could count them, but who has the time?) books and articles to help me wrap my head around all that I have learned about our family. I have spent many hours thinking about my life and what direction it is pointing. Most importantly, I have begun taking steps forward. I am on the road to self-improvement and am, for the first time in a long time, seeing myself as a big bundle of potential.

I look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Ruf.  Our family is so thankful and truly blessed to now have her in our lives.

Joe and Amanda Hauck


Without Deborah's professional assistance, we would never have been able to identify our son's level of giftedness. We felt we needed some sort of "measurement" to go by so we would know what exactly we were dealing with in regards to our son's gifts and what we needed to do as parents to help him in any way we could. Through phone and face- to-face consultation with Deborah, she gave us valuable, detailed information which educated us on the best course of action to take with our son.

Educational Options
Without Deborah's help, we never would have known about The Davidson Institute and been able to enroll our son as a Young Scholar. The Davidson Institute has been a tremendous financial asset to us! It has allowed us to enroll Christopher in many different classes and get assistance from excellent tutors.

When we spoke to Deborah, she told us "be ready to make a change in a moment's notice" and we cannot stress how ABSOLUTELY correct she was! We have tried many different types of educational options in just a few short years including Montessori, gifted schools, public schools, home schooling and private tutoring.

Gregg and Jenny Woods

“Our consultation with Dr. Deborah Ruf was pivotal.  It gave us the data we needed to make a dramatic switch in our daughter’s education, moving from a public charter school to home schooling.  Three years later, our daughter is thriving – intellectually challenged, socially poised, and filled with enthusiasm for life.  Without Deborah’s insight and encouragement, we might have thrashed about for much longer and been beset by self-doubts.  Instead, we made this life-changing move to home schooling with confidence.” 

“Initially, we were concerned that putting our then-six-year-old daughter in a testing situation would frighten her.  Instead, she lit up like a Christmas tree in Deborah’s presence.  She enjoyed the experience so much that at the end she asked “When can I go back?”  For months, she would gather her dolls and teddies and pretend to be Dr. Ruf asking questions.  Three years later, she still corresponds occasionally with Deborah and considers her a friend and role model."

“There is no substitute for a personal assessment from Deborah Ruf, but her book, Losing Our Minds:  Gifted Children Left Behind, helped us gain further insight after the consultation.  In addition, lending the book to family and other parents has proven to be a powerful way to help them understand our situation and to ask new questions about their own children’s needs.”

Leslie Schultz and Timothy Braulick

Long Distance Consulting (Top of Page)
When I first contacted Dr. Ruf and was sent the information, I was very reluctant to do the personality profiles. I didn't really see how that would help me to understand my child's giftedness. Wow! Was I wrong. Knowing my child's personality and how it interacted with her intelligence level really shed a lot of light on who she was. The entire time Dr. Ruf was going over it, I was thinking..."Wow, that is her." and "That explains why she does this."

Once I knew all of our personality types and understood how they influence many of our interactions with each other, it really helped me become aware of ways to change our interactions for the better. Our family life has improved as a result and I think I am a better parent for my children.

I think the personality profile was the piece of the puzzle missing in the initial assessment we had done on my child. I received more out of that information than I did in knowing her IQ score and achievement scores. The IQ and achievement results were just numbers. They didn't explain my child, why she acted in certain ways, made certain choices or learned the way she does.

Educational Options

We chose a long distance phone consult because we had already had an assessment done at another location but I still had questions that had not been answered by that assessment and questioned the accuracy of some of the results. Dr. Ruf answered all my questions and really seemed to understand my daughter even though she had never met her. Everything she said made sense and explained the discrepancies in the original assessment. I hung up the phone feeling like I was moving in the right direction and understanding how to be a better parent to all my children. I followed through with the suggested readings and put Dr. Ruf's suggestions into action.

Donna and Stewart Richardson

Gifted Adults (Top of Page)

I’m a 47-year-old man. For years it has bothered me as to why my grades in college and high school were never outstanding . . . never failing but seldom really great. I would study hard for exams and at test time I would often draw a blank. In my head I knew the material to be tested on but I would often freeze up. I thought I was stupid.

Two years ago I came across the Educational Options web site. I browsed the Educational Options(EO) web site to find out about the various services that they provide. I immediately contacted EO and set up a future date to do an IQ assessment and consultation . EO also suggested that I do a personality assessment and do it ahead of time so that Dr. Ruf could have the results at test time. Initially I was skeptical about what my personality type had to do with my intelligence. I would soon find out. The assessment also required a follow-up consultation session to discuss my IQ and personality test results.

I found the testing environment very comfortable and pleasant. I had plenty of time for the IQ test and was never rushed and I was able to take brief breaks. Because of my work schedule, I chose to have the follow-up consultation session done in the afternoon the same day that I took the IQ test.

Educational Options
In the consultation session, Dr. Ruf carefully and slowly went over the results of not only my IQ test but also my personality test, too. Dr. Ruf pointed out why the personality assessment was very important in understanding how I think and reason. Dr. Ruf very carefully pointed out to me not only my weak areas and why I was always frustrated taking exams. Dr Ruf also pointed out areas of strength and abilities I was not aware of. My personality type INTP explained why I have always felt a little different in social situations and also has a critical role on how I think and reason. Dr. Ruf explained specific areas of weakness. Mine was poor working memory and relatively weak verbal quantitative reasoning abilities and why this caused my academic struggles in math and taking exams.

Through this assessment I found out while I’m not gifted I’m bright and not stupid. Educational Options has greatly helped me focus on my strengths in possible future career choices. This information has tremendously helped me focus on different ways of learning and how to view myself and to narrow my career choices down to more appropriate options. For example, not try and be a physicist or mathematician but maybe a career using verbal skills and logic that are more my strengths.

Randy Dahl