If your child exhibits many of the signs of dyslexia it may be very important to start an evaluation process. It is important to address reading problems early so you can begin getting your child the appropriate help. Waiting for improvement never works for children with dyslexia. Self-esteem often fades as the child becomes more aware that they are not learning at the same rate as peers. Avoidance of reading can show itself in avoidance behavior such as trips to the bathroom or nurse, saying they are sick before leaving for school and even fighting, becoming the class clown, being sent into the hall as punishment (which suits the student just fine!) Most students will prefer to be invisible or bad to avoiding showing they are poor at reading. A student with dyslexia should never be forced to read in front of peers. Establishing a “paper trail” as soon as you have concerns is important for receiving accommodations later. It is also important to have testing to know your child’s cognitive and academic strengths and needs. A plan can be created that will provide the most effective intervention. An hour of intervention in kindergarten is equivalent to four hours in fourth grade. Although it’s never too late to change the brain, early intervention is proven to be the most effective.
What is a Psycho–Educational Evaluation?
Psycho–educational evaluations consist of a battery or series of tests that will provide information on your child’s overall abilities, particularly learning style, information processing abilities, and academic skills. A portion of the evaluation is a cognitive (IQ) test which helps to clarify the student’s strengths and weaknesses. It provides information regarding the student’s ability to process verbally and visually presented information as well as his or her overall intellectual potential. The most widely recognized IQ test is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC). The other parts of the psycho–educational evaluation assess the student’s academic skills: reading, written language, and math. There are many standardized tests that can be used to obtain this information. At ALLC we also provide normed and additional testing to help determine if a child has dyslexia and why certain accommodations are critical for success. In addition to test data, the evaluation includes a parent interview as well as questionnaires completed by parents, teachers, and the student.
The ALLC psycho-educational evaluation meets the criteria for determining school-based needs and eligibility for specialized programming, namely an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504 Accommodation Plan. It is recommended that updated evaluation be completed every 3 years in order to determine current needs, strengths, and progress made.
What can I expect from the results?
First, the psycho–educational evaluation will describe your child’s overall intellectual potential. Students with Learning Disabilities have many strengths as well as weaknesses and the evaluator will meet with you and explain both. You need to know the areas of strength and the areas of weakness which so you know how best to help your child.
The test results will also describe the student’s overall academic skills. You will learn whether the student’s reading is at grade level and, if not, where the specific deficits lie. For example, it could be that your child has trouble sounding out new words but uses intelligence to compensate, getting the gist of the information. Or, perhaps your child can read every word quickly and accurately, but struggles with comprehension due to underlying memory and/or language processing issues. The results of these studies might indicate other possible areas of difficulty. Your son or daughter might have difficulty with underlying language skills. There might be problems with processing, sequencing, or remembering what is heard (a receptive language problem). Or, the problems might relate to organizing thoughts and finding the words to use in order to express these thoughts (an expressive language problem). If such language problems are noted, a speech–language assessment will be recommended to clarify the diagnosis and interventions needed. Or, your child’s written language might be affected by the inability to produce written language. He or she might have difficulty forming letters. The mechanics of writing might be done so slowly and with such difficulty that he becomes frustrated and produces little or gives up.
The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD) strongly supports comprehensive assessment and evaluation of students with learning disabilities by a multidisciplinary team for the identification and diagnosis of students with learning disabilities. Comprehensive assessment of individual students requires the use of multiple data sources. These sources include standardized tests, informal measures, observations, student self-reports, parent reports, and progress monitoring data from response-to-intervention (RTI) approaches (NJCLD, 2005).
Our Client Services Coordinator will be your first contact and you will explain your concerns to see if what ALLC offers matches your needs. You will receive a packet of forms that are required prior to a meeting. Please also gather any school work that shows the problems about which you are concerned. Report cards, any standardized testing and previous evaluations are also needed. All paperwork must be completed and submitted before the consultation meeting. If the information requested is not sent in advance of the appointment, the consultation will be rescheduled. This may result in a delay in testing. This allows us to become familiar with your child and any critical information provided.
A consultation meeting is held with the parents (and the child if appropriate). In this meeting you express your concerns, we will review samples of school work you brought, discuss the developmental history and discuss what testing may be appropriate. We will answer any questions you have.
The actual testing takes approximately 6-10 hours. After the testing is complete a team of professionals (including a school psychologist, educational diagnostician and licensed psychologist) score all tests and meet to discuss scores and what they mean in relation to each other. An extensive report is prepared which explains each test administered and how the student performed. If appropriate, a diagnosis of dyslexia will be in the report. There are also recommendations for interventions that are proven successful, and accommodations that will help level the field in school for students with dyslexia. There will be a second parent meeting when the report will be presented and testing results explained.
Reading Placement Test
The purpose of this test is to see what the student’s reading skills are prior to beginning intervention services. If a psycho-educational report is older than 1 year or incomplete this placement test will be required prior to receiving intervention services. This testing will be repeated at approximately 6 month intervals. Results from this examination will not allow us to diagnose dyslexia.
Following this testing a summary of results is provided, an explanation of what was tested and what the results indicate. Therapy choices will be discussed during a brief parent conference. Goals will be established at this time with input from the parents, Program Director, Educational Specialist/ Tutor and any other staff that have information or need to know the intervention plan.
Periodic Progress Monitoring
This is used during Intervention. This confirms that progress is being made at a reasonable rate. If progress is not being made we will all meet and brainstorm what needs to be done.
Please call our Client Services Coordinator to schedule an appointment. 602.212.1089 x 221