When there's a healthy relationship between home and school, teachers and parents strive to achieve a common, shared understanding of the nature, extent, and impact of a child's learning disability. They come to agreement on the findings and implications of diagnostic evaluations. What can you do to work toward this type of mutual understanding and shared concern?
Under special education law, schools are required to carry out a multidisciplinary evaluation to identify a child's learning disability or other handicapping condition. If the school's assessment team diagnoses your child with LD, make sure you ask them to explain their findings in language that you understand. You may need to hear the information more than once, and you might find it helpful to ask a friend or a professional to read the report with you.
If the school does not feel that your child has a learning disability, make sure that you understand how they came to this decision. Then you need to know their explanation of the difficulties that brought your child to their attention in the first place. Whether your child's problems in school are due to a learning disability or not, you need to understand and agree with the school's plan of action for your child. Don't say yes or sign anything until you do.
If you disagree with the school's findings, tell them why and give them the chance to explain their conclusions. If you're not satisfied with their response, special education law gives you the right to have an independent evaluation done outside of the school (make sure you check the school's policy on reimbursement to avoid surprises later on). If the school doesn't agree with the findings of the outside evaluator, they have a professional obligation to have a discussion with this professional, and hopefully to come to some agreement. You should be a part of this discussion.
It's a good idea to have an outside evaluation completed by someone both you and the school respect. You may ask the school for a recommendation and then interview the evaluator yourself before making a decision. The goal here is to avoid an expensive, anxiety-producing, adversarial nightmare, and reach an agreement between the you and your child's school.
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