You will likely have your own questions about the process of the Evaluation in addition to specific questions about your child’s thinking, learning, and behavior. Below are simply some questions that may help you decide on an evaluator, if you are seeking an Independent Educational Evaluation. Plus, the responses can be shared with your child in order to put him/her more at ease.
Questions to Ask Your Child’s Evaluator
- How many sessions will you see my child, and for how long? How often will my child receive breaks?
- What will the evaluation include– academic information only or also social-emotional development and/or mental health? (Whether you would like to include social-emotional development or mental health will depend on what concerns you or your child’s school has about him/her. Learning disabilities can be accompanied by anxiety or mood disorders, and these will likely interact (which will influence what interventions should be undertaken and when). Many students I have worked with also experience anxiety disorders, and I have found it effective for them to have a few sessions with a therapist before we begin our work so that they are open to the work we are doing. However, I do not recommend working entirely sequentially since competence often leads to confidence, thus working with me (as an SLP and/or Learning Specialist) often helps students feel more confident, which can positively counteract their anxiety
- Do you speak with my child’s teachers/tutors/other providers? This is essential for getting a more complete picture of your child’s skills and struggles. Children necessarily behave differently in different situations. In addition, one unavoidable flaw of evaluations is that they only take place over a day or two, which leaves little room for recognition of improvement, or for counterbalancing the fact that your child may be tired, may have a cold, etc. Teachers, tutors, and other professionals can share their observations with the evaluator, both to help him/her recognize progress made, and to add to what helps your child learn
- Do you provide a feedback session with us (caregivers)? This is typical, but you want to be sure that you have a feedback session so that you can ask any clarifying questions and ensure that you fully understand the contents of the (often-very-long and jargon-y) evaluation.
- Do you provide a feedback session with my/our child? This is helpful even for young children. This allows your child to learn about his/her strengths, to ask questions about his/her brain (which all children I have encountered are fascinated by), and to begin to get comfortable with some of the language surrounding his/her learning.
- Do you provide a feedback session with my child’s school? Some evaluators do not do this, and that can be acceptable since most schools have their own school psychologists or learning specialists whose job it is to read and understand Neuropsychological Evaluations. They can then help with the follow through of recommendations. Nonetheless, you will want to make sure that the Evaluator is available for any questions that these professionals may have.
- How long will it be before we receive the report and/or feedback? Writing a Neuropsychological Evaluation requires many skills, many hours of analysis, and often many hours of interviews. Therefore, it is understandable if it takes around a month. However, the longer the evaluation takes, the longer you need to wait to implement the (valuable) recommendations, so longer than a month (unless it’s near holidays) is undesirable.
Read about What to Expect from a Neuropsychological Evaluation, about the Benefits of Obtaining a Neuropsychological Evaluation, and about Discussing the Results with Your Child.