You have the right to request that your child receive an in-school evaluation by a school psychologist.
While evaluations by school psychologists are done to determine eligibility for special education, they can also provide you with a lot of specific information about what may be interfering with your child’s learning or behavioral progress and whether or not they have a disability.
Disabilities looked at by school psychologists often include learning disabilities, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), emotional disabilities, and intellectual disabilities.
If your child is found to have a disability, you do not have to agree to any changes in his current placement.
Special education looks very different than it did in the past. Children can remain in a regular education classroom, but be entitled to specific accommodations to meet their needs. Depending on the severity of the disability, a placement change to a smaller setting may be recommended.
If your child is found to have a disability such as ADHD, a learning disability, or an emotional disability, legally the school has to implement strategies to help your child, through an individualized education plan (IEP).
Many times schools like to try a variety of strategies first, either behavioral, academic, or both depending on your child’s specific needs, before moving to a full evaluation by a school psychologist.
You should be on the same page with your child’s school. If they are implementing a plan to support behavior at school you should implement a similar plan at home. Children struggling with behavior need to have specific goals to work towards with specific rewards or privileges tied to the completion of these goals.
Often times you can do a home-school collaboration plan. Schools can send home a daily or weekly behavior report. If your child met his goals, you as the parent can allow him to earn privileges at home. For example, if your child stayed in his seat and completed his work, he can have an extra half an hour of tv at home. The goals and rewards are up to you to figure out as a team with your child and his school. Click here for a list of reward ideas at home. Click here for a list of reward ideas at school.
Rewards can be faded slowly over time as your child starts to make progress with his behavior.
It is very possible that your child has trouble controlling his behavior. In these cases, punishments like time out or taking things away do not work to change behavior. Children need to be taught how to control their behavior which is a process that can take a considerable amount of time.
Read all of our research-based behavior articles so you are armed with strategies the school can try when you sit down with them for a meeting. Have the guidance counselor, an administrator, and teacher present at your meeting to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Talk to an educational advocate to see how they can help you with your situation. Often times they will come to school meetings with you. You should be able to find an educational advocate by contacting your district’s administration building or you can contact National Disability Rights Network to find one in your area. Even though this is contact info for children with disabilities, they should be able to help you find an educational advocate for a child without a documented disability, if you let them know your specific situation.
It is a wise choice to have a child evaluated by an outside doctor like a psychologist or psychiatrist if they are getting an in-school evaluation by a school psychologist for a disability such as ADHD, autism, or an emotional disability. You can often get a referral from your child’s primary doctor or by visiting your child’s insurance website.
Your child should be entitled to free insurance through your state, which would cover outside evaluations and counseling with very little or no cost to you. Contact 1-800-318-2596 or visit HealthCare.gov to find out about applying for insurance.
Please keep the following things in mind:
- Adults need to change their own behaviors if you want to see changes in the child’s behavior.
- It will be a lot of work at first to consistently follow through with all the changes you make.
- “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” What I mean by that is…if your child’s school says they will try strategies or if your child has an individualized education plan (IEP) entitling them to specific accommodations, be an advocate for your child. Ensure the strategies that the school has agreed to are carried out. You can do this by following up with school staff through meetings, phone calls, emails, etc.
- Even with all the right supports in place, there are situations where progress may take a very long time or the improvement may be very little.
- Keep trying, be consistent, and make sure to use research based strategies like the ones in our behavior and learning articles. You can also find research based behavior and learning strategies on-line through a Google search. If you like to read the old fashion way, you can find books on research-based learning and behavior strategies on our website at the Wise Market. Click on the “Informational/Self-Help books” section to see our selection.
- If your child is not responding to research-based strategies over time, keep in constant contact with a medical professional to advise you on next steps.
We hope this was helpful. Wishing your family the best!
Thank you for reading!