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A Parent’s Perspective—Taking the Private Route for LD Evaluation

Testing for Learning Disabilities - Private Evaluation icon_podcastsThe following is a transcription of the podcast, “A Parent’s Perspective Taking the Private Route for LD Evaluation (audio).”

This NCLD podcast focuses on the process of evaluation for learning disabilities using a private evaluator. Read about the conversation between Candace Cortiella and Judith Halden, a videographer and mother of a young adult with learning disabilities.

Judith, please start by telling us what parents should know about the LD evaluation process overall.
One of the most important things for parents to keep in mind is that there is no right or wrong way to go about the evaluation process. The key is not to wait. If you as a parent are concerned about the academic progress your child is making, you should begin taking steps that will help uncover the cause and, if necessary, allow interventions to begin.

Frequently, parents are advised to take a wait-and-see approach [and are told] that some children will catch on later than others. While this can be true, research has shown that it’s not often the case. And even if it is, investigating the learning difficulties early on can’t have a negative effect. Instead, it can provide a measure of relief for the parents instead of wondering what could be causing the problems.

So how does private testing differ from testing done by the local [public] school?
There are several important differences between private testing, which is testing that parents pay for, and having them tested by the [public] school, which is free. Probably most important is that parents can get an evaluation without the agreement or even the knowledge of the school. So if parents have had their request for evaluation declined by the school or delayed for some reason, they can obtain a private evaluation on their own.

Next, parents have complete control over who does the [private] testing and what [kind of] testing is done. This will definitely not be the case with testing done by the school. While schools should involve parents in the process of determining the components of an evaluation, parents don’t have control over all the aspects as you would if you were working with someone privately.

In addition, the people who do school evaluations will be school district employees or contractors who work for the school. Another big difference when the testing is done by a person hired privately is that the parents can decide whether or not to share the results with the school. This is probably one of the most important differences. By contrast, the results of school evaluations will become part of the student’s confidential school record.

So if a parent wants to go the private route for an evaluation, what are some important things they need to consider?
First and foremost is that private testing can be very expensive. A complete evaluation can cost hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars. Some insurance may cover an evaluation but parents should always check with their insurance companies about exactly what is covered.

Another possibility would be university clinics which sometimes perform child evaluations at little or no cost. So parents should definitely check on that, particularly if there is a university with a school of education nearby.

Where can a parent look to find a private evaluator for their child?<
I would start off asking your pediatrician for a referral for private evaluators. There are various professionals who do this type of testing. They could be psychologists, neuropsychologists, or educational diagnosticians.

Sometimes hospitals have child development centers which offer testing. Check with private schools in your area that specialize in learning disabilities. They almost always have people that they refer testing to.

The state’s Parent Center might also have information on private evaluators. Parents can locate their centers at www.parentcenternetwork.org. A good rule of thumb is to look for a referral that comes up more than once. Generally, that’s a good indicator that you’re talking about somebody of quality, but you as a parent always have to do the research.

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