As a Santa Clarita Child Psychologist, I’m often asked this very question.
Nothing is more frustrating than knowing your child is struggling in school while the school itself does little to help.
Parents often come to me because their child is struggling to keep up and the school response seems too slow–or because the school’s assessment has ruled out special education completely. Sometimes it helps to understand what the school’s assessment process actually is and what it is for.
First, understand that the school’s purpose for conducting an assessment is to determine the child’s need for special education services—not to find out basic information about your child’s needs and learning style. Therefore, a full, formal assessment is never the first step in the intervention process. Instead, the law requires that you and your child’s teachers offer additional support to your child first. If you child does not show enough improvement, then the school will be willing to discuss testing.
The process can easily take a year or two, depending on your child’s age and progress.
Once the decision to test is made, formal assessment can be a two-to-three-month process. The results are then evaluated for two factors:
1. The student must have a processing deficit in one of the following areas: attention, visual processing, auditory processing, sensory-motor skills, cognitive abilities including association, conceptualization, or expression.
2. The student must also be significantly below their like-age peers in at least one academic area (reading, writing, math, listening comprehension, oral expression).
If your child’s test scores, classroom behavior, and prior history do not show significant enough deficits, the school will not offer special education services—even if your child still obviously needs additional help.
Once again, remember that the objective of the school is not to determine what your child needs but, rather, to determine what type of public resources can legally be offered in your child’s case. There is a large gap in services for children who cannot thrive in general education, yet do not qualify for special education.
Your child may be in that gap.
You can seek assistance from a private source.
As a child psychologist, I can provide testing now, rather than waiting for the school to do an assessment, and I can supplement the testing provided by the school. I can review the results and explain them to you. I can help you understand the public school system so you can fight effectively for your child’s rights. I can also help you find the additional resources you need outside of the school setting.
Together we can affect a change in your child’s learning. Don’t give up.
Being a Santa Clarita Child Psychologist has taught me those that seek help are those that realize progress. Let’s connect on Instagram.
Photo by Blake Meyer on Unsplash