To Test or Not to Test?
If you have a child who is struggling in school, you might wonder if you should have him/her tested for a learning disability, either through the school or privately. This is definitely a personal choice, but before you decide whether or not to test, some information on testing can be helpful. Following are some general guidelines to think about before you make that decision.
1. If the student is young, it is probably best to wait until around third grade for a firm diagnosis. Young learners often have short attention spans, can be frightened by the testing, or could be disinterested in the testing itself.
2. If you decide to have your child tested, your child will possibly be labeled, and this label will follow him/her throughout his/her school years. Also, students sometimes use a label as an excuse not to do something. It also can affect the student’s self-esteem, however, I have found that teens are often relieved when they understand that they have something, such as dyslexia, that interferes with their learning and that they are still smart.
3. Private testing can be expensive, often costing thousands of dollars. School testing won’t cost you anything, but your child might qualify for special education (IEP), and that is another decision you will have to make. Keep in mind that if the school does test your child, and your child qualifies for special education, that you have the right to deny services it if you so choose.
4. If you choose to test, you many not like the diagnosis you receive, and it may cause you to worry more than you are now. On the flip side, the testing might reveal that your child doesn’t have a learning disability, but you will still have to figure out why he/she isn’t doing well academically.
5. Testing doesn’t solve the problem or even put a band-aid on it. You may be given some suggestions to help your child, but the testing itself won’t actually correct a learning disability.
6. Testing can provide you and the school with information so that your child can receive accommodations and modifications to help make school easier and more comfortable. For instance, the testing might reveal that your child has a visual processing disorder, which would qualify him/her for a 504 Plan. Your child could then have more time to take tests. This would be decided by a team of people, including you as the parent.
Keep in mind that it is a personal decision to test your child. As a new school year is upon us, think about the pros and cons of testing.
I offer three free screening evaluations that can be a first step toward fining strengths and weaknesses in a student’s learning foundation. These evaluations can be done easily at home and won’t be in the student’s file.