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School Testing for ADD
Q: My son's teacher, the school principal, and I feel that my son is ADD. When I requested information on the testing that the school could perform, they said they couldn't test for ADD because it is a medical problem. Now I understand that he will need to see a doctor, but I was under the impression that they could do some of the testing. Can you tell me what tests they are required to do if I request it? Also, what tests can't they do, and where should I have those tests done?
A: If your son does have ADHD, the most common treatment recommended (and probably the most effective) is medication. Therefore, it's always a good idea to have a medical doctor involved in any evaluation for this disorder. However, if your son is having academic problems that may be related to ADHD, you can certainly request that he be given a psychoeducational battery of tests.
Since many children who have ADHD also have learning disabilities, these tests should give you more information about your son's academic strengths and weaknesses, as well as clues to his levels of attention under a variety of situations. This information would be extremely helpful in giving your doctor a well-rounded picture of your son. In addition, there are parent and teacher checklists (the Connors Scale is the most common one) that can also give you a better picture of your son's behaviors from at least these two viewpoints.
Most frequently, an I.Q. test (usually the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children or the Stanford Binet Intelligence Test) and a series of academic tests across the spectrum -- that includes looking at reading, writing, spelling, math, and general language skills -- are part of a psychoeducational evaluation. The I.Q. tests will give you an indication of your child's potential. The academic tests will tell you how he compares with his age or grade peers' performance.
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For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.