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Sharing Private Neuropsychological Evaluations

How to use private testing to shape your child's supports in school.

Many parents decide to have their child privately tested once it has been determined that they have a disability or delay which needs support significant enough to warrant an IEP.  Also common, the parents' intuition about their child will bring them to seek testing even before a school system or teacher brings concerns to their attention. With wait lists that can stretch out for months, large uncovered co-pays, and long waits to get reports back from evaluators, the process can be exhausting. Here are a few tips on making the most of private evaluations;
1. Get a high quality Pediatric Neuropsychological Evaluation first.
Select a Psy,D. who has solid references, and can predict their report turnaround not to be longer than a few months from the completion of testing. No matter how talented the evaluator, if their report takes 14 months to get, the information may no longer be useful for your needs. If your child can not be seen in a reasonable time frame, call other practitioners and ask if they have a waiting list.  Many other parents are in the same boat as you and will be giving up spots on lists when their time comes.
2.  Make sure your evaluator is willing to go and observe your child in their school setting.
If you are presenting a neuropsychological report from an expert with the hope of convincing your district to grant your child eligibility for special education services after district testing said he/she did not qualify, you should be certain your report includes an observation of the child in their placement and some recommendations based on that visit.  While WISCs and BASCs and DRCs will certainly illuminate the details of your child's strengths and weaknesses, the school may maintain that since the expert does not have the experience of seeing what they already do to support the child, they are not going to honor their recommendations. If you are presenting this report to your team to increase or change services to an existing IEP, the theory is the same. The report will carry more weight if the evaluator actually shows up in person to see your child in class.
3. Review the recommendations before the evaluator completes the report.
Before any evaluator completes their report, but after the completion of testing, a good evaluator will speak with you about your understanding of the information acquired and ask about concerns.  This is your chance to ask that the recommendations be extremely detailed, perhaps offering examples of peer reviewed methodologies they would expect to be employed in the support of your child.  Be sure the recommendations are explicit in their description. Statements describing how many hours, in what setting, with how many children in the classroom are just a few examples of reasonable recommendations for support.
4. Share your report with the Team 10 school days before you meet with them.
Remember when the district tested your child and they were obligated to get the results to you two business days before the Team meeting to discuss the findings?  Now that you have retained your own expert for a second (or first, depending on circumstances) opinion, you must give the district 10 school days prior to the team meeting to discuss it's findings or they may tell you they have not had time to review it for consideration.
5. Make sure the recommendations in the report are reflected in the IEP.
The district must consider any new information about your child if it effects the way they need to be supported academically or socio-emotionally. If reasonable recommendations from your expert are not accepted and integrated into the IEP, step one is that your parental concerns section in the IEP should reflect your dissatisfaction with that refusal. Step two is you need to partially reject your IEP based on the lack of appropriate supports.  This step will trigger a record from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education acknowledging your disagreement with the districts actions. It will also require them to reconvene the Team to discuss the rejection, which is usually the point at which they begin to take you seriously.
The list of professional diagnosticians and evaluators involved in understanding the needs of a child can be huge. Neuropsychological testing is the best and most credible way to get a big picture that your district will both respect and implement. I strongly suggest you start there.
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