January 11, 2021
Peter was in the fifth grade when one of his mother’s friends asked her what he was receiving special education services for. “I don’t know exactly,” she responded. “But what was his diagnosis?” the friend asked. “He’s never been diagnosed. He just gets help in the resource room.”
Peter’s mother would never let her child take medicine for an illness the doctor hadn’t diagnosed. Yet Peter has spent five years receiving treatment for an unspecified learning problem. Who’s to say if the services he’s receiving are appropriate for his needs?
Getting effective help begins with a clear and accurate diagnosis. Without knowing the problem, it’s impossible to know what services are appropriate for your child.
A diagnosis states the disability (“dyslexia,” “nonverbal learning disability,” etc.) and is based on an evaluation that takes into consideration test results and observations made by you, your child’s teachers, and the evaluator.
Is the Diagnosis Correct?
The diagnosis should make sense to you in light of what you know about learning disabilities as well as what you know about your child.
The evaluator should be able to explain the findings in a way that is convincing to you. If they don’t, it’s possible that the diagnosis is incorrect or the evaluator does not understand the nature of the problem.
If what is being done for your child doesn’t seem to be working, you must find out what is wrong—and the best place to start may be with a psychoeducational evaluation or a review of the initial diagnosis.