Advocating for your child to receive Special Education Services can seem like daunting task. Some parent’s find it hard to know where to start.
Special education is instruction that is specially designed to meet the unique needs of children who have disabilities. Special education and related services are provided in public schools at no cost to the parents and can include special instruction in the classroom, at home, in hospitals or institutions, or in other settings. This definition of special education comes from IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This law gives eligible children with disabilities the right to receive special services and assistance in school.
If you suspect that your child may be in need of special education services, then you need to ask the school, in writing, to evaluate your child. Click here for the Evaluation Request Form. Once you provide that consent, the evaluation must be conducted within 60 days (or within the timeframe the state has established).
The evaluation often involves academic achievement testing to determine your child’s grade level and performance in areas such as reading, spelling and math. This testing is free.
If my child is tested at school, do they need neuropsychological testing.
- If your child attends a private school that does not provide academic testing or special education services, then you may need to seek an outside assessment by a professional with expertise in neuropsychological or psychoeducational assessment.
- If you do not agree with the evaluation findings by your child’s school district then an outside evaluation by a professional with expertise in neuropsychological or psychoeducational assessment may be necessary to assist in advocating for your child.
- While a pediatric neuropsychological exam often involves some academic achievement testing, the exam also evaluates neural systems or “brain-behavior relationships” including intelligence, executive functioning, visuoperception, language, processing speed, mood and psychosocial skills.
While academic achievement testing looks at “what” is wrong in terms of thinking and learning, a neuropsychological exam answers both “what” is wrong and “why” from a brain standpoint. The patient’s history, the professional’s observations, clinical interviews with primary caretakers and findings are all used to clarify diagnosis and prognosis, as well as provide direction regarding intervention and special education services.
If your child has recently had academic achievement testing, these findings can be reviewed and integrated into the exam, thereby reducing time and expense.
Additional information regarding parental rights: