Evaluation / LD Testing
1) I think my child may have a learning disability but I'm not sure how to describe to the school exactly what I want assessed. What should I do?
Before going elsewhere, you might want to find out exactly what services the school system could offer you and when they could provide them. If the timeframe or suggestions for providing needed services is unacceptable to you, there are independent educational testers that you can go to privately. The following articles will give you an idea of what to expect from the testing process:
There are several national organizations that can help you through this process and provide referrals to local professionals. You can contact the International Dyslexia Association or the Learning Disabilities Association. In addition, you can look in your local phone book for educational testing or psycho-educational testing for someone close to you. LD Online has a Yellow Pages service that might be helpful. There are also educational consultants and educational advocates that can help you through the process locally.
Be a good consumer in this process. Ask potential testers, tutors, and consultants about their experiences and specialization before you choose a provider. You want to make sure that the person you choose will be a good match for your child.
2) How can I find a professional who can diagnose a learning disability?
A full psycho-educational assessment would be helpful to give you more information about the way this student learns.
In addition, you can look in your local phone book for educational testing or psycho-educational testing for someone in your area. LD OnLine also has a Yellow Pages service that might be helpful.
Be sure to ask potential testers, tutors, and consultants about their experiences and specializations before choosing a provider.
3) Can a five year old be evaluated for ADHD? Where could I get this evaluation done?
It is good to consider early intervention. As a parent, it is within your rights to request a 504 evaluation for your child. This evaluation is free and will be conducted at your public school. Ask to meet with the principal to find out how to proceed. If your child is in preschool, contact your local school division for a phone number of an early intervention service.
4) My child was tested in kindergarten for dyslexia but they didn't find anything. What should I do now that he is in 3rd grade and still struggling with reading and writing?
As your child gets older, it may be increasingly difficult for him to compensate, so the gap between his ability and achievement may be widening. If your child does have a learning disability, it will be easier to detect now than when he was in kindergarten. The following articles describe characteristics common to children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. You may want to look through them to see if you recognize some of your childs challenges in these descriptions:
If you see some of these characteristics in your child, you may want to request that his school give him an educational evaluation. It is within your rights as a parent to request this free evaluation and to have a vote throughout the evaluation process.
Remember that you can be the strongest and most knowledgeable advocate for your son, so trust your instincts and dont give up! The sooner your son receives the assistance he needs and the quicker you and his teachers can work together to develop a plan for helping him at home and school, the better his outcome for truly reaching his academic potential.
5) My child struggles academically, but the school tells me he does not qualify for special education services. Why not?
Many schools use a discrepancy formula to determine whether a student is eligible for special education for a learning disability. Often, there needs to be a specific number of points between aptitude and achievement. It may be that your child's discrepancy is not yet great enough for him to qualify for services.
The discrepancy system is a hotly debated topic, both within schools and within federal legislation. We are now seeing a trend toward the Response to Intervention system, which addresses a student's needs as they arise, rather than waiting for him to fall significantly behind.
If your school is still using the discrepancy formula, there may still be services available, such as a tutoring program or a reading specialist who could do small group or individual work with your child.
6) My son is far behind in school both academically and developmentally. Should he stay back a grade?
If your school is one in which 1) at-risk students are given intensified learning experiences; 2) differentiated instruction is provided; 3) teachers are continually improving their skills; 4) lessons are geared to ongoing performance assessments; and 5) very young students receive the help they need early and often you can safely support promotion for your child. If you are not convinced that your child will get the support he needs to succeed in the next grade, you may want to strongly support his retention. In addition to academic factors, it is important to weigh the child's age, size, emotional maturity and physical development when considering retention. Also examine the program that will be offered it should be a new, challenging experience not a repeat of the same lessons and texts.
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