October 26, 2010,
E.B. asks from Waldorf, MD on October 25, 2010
Public School or Private Dr Testing for Possible IEP
I have a very bright 3rd grader, who consistently tests well above grade level - since starting school. He reads books that I would read, and analizes things in ways I don't even think to do. But he gets poor marks on his school work (when he completes it) and has several emotional (no so much behavioral) problems. Several different ideas/thoughts have been suggested to - most having to do with some disability or another. We have talked to the school and seen the pediatrician and it has been recommended that we have him tested. It has been recommended to us to take him to be privately tested, even though the school system provides all sorts testing and subsequent help. I have been told I don't want the school getting involved though - and I have read things online about parents not agreeing with the Public Schools decisions/diagnoses or IEPs and then having to get lawyers involved or switch schools... none of which would help any child with a real problem. But I have heard that the local childrens mental health providers do alot of - Labeling and Medicating and sending out the door type things... which neither my husband or I want.. we want a solution - or atleast proper ways to handel whatever this may be - we do not want to sit on our thumbs and pump him full of meds. The 3rd alternative is to go through Children's Medical Center in DC - which we did for some surgery he needed this past year.... (unrelated surgery) But the wait is 6 months to a year just to get in to get an evaluation... and we don't want this going on for so long without intervention that it just gets worse... so my question is, what are your experiences with private vs public school testing... any advice is helpful advise is welcome... please no negative comments. One strong possiblity is aspergers, so if you have a child with that, then you will know what the personality is like - and would love input on what you did to get help. thanks in advance. sorry so long, i wanted to get all the info out at once.
So What Happened?™
we have previously been to the PED, had her evaluate him, had teachers and family fill out observation evaluations... the PED is who recommended not going local - but going to childrens - Childrens told us it could be 6 months to a year to get an evaluation.. so we are trying to decide if we should wait out Children's (for up to a year just for the eval) or if we should go ahead and let the school test him. I have exhausted all reading material I can find and think I know what it is... but i still need him to have formal evaluation.
D.B. answers from Charlotte on October 25, 2010
E., I would do both. Go ahead and get that appointment with the Children's Hospital. Get everything set up and you'll have that to look towards. Meanwhile, let the school do the testing. You really need to accept that he's going to have to have help, and the only way to GET the help is to have the testing. The school can look at both sets of tests. The tests will at least say where his strengths and weaknesses lie, and they can put together a plan. When you have the private testing, both these tests can be compared. It will help with the IEP.
I did this same thing for my younger son, E.. It really helped.
All my best,
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S.B. answers from San Diego on October 25, 2010
We did both, and then some. There is a Dr. in the Peds group that does all the ADD, ADHD, Autism, Aspbergers stuff, and he evaluated my daughter. We then had the school do all their IEP evaluations, and then a couple of years later we paid $1000.00 and had a Psychologist test as well.
Good luck to you!!!
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M.R. answers from Columbus on October 25, 2010
Why do you have to choose? The answer is, you need both, and there may be some things about the process that you do not like and that you cannot control, like what the most sucessful treatment will be. Let me clear up a real populuar myth for you, using medication and sitting on your thumbs are mutually excusive activities. Medication is a tool that many children need to make all the therapy, hard work, and intervention more effective, and the do a fabulous job of making kids with medical issues caused by neurological and developmental problems feel better while they undergo very difficult therapy. Let that go. None of what you are up against is an Either/Or situation. You do not choose public or private, you choose both, because that is appropriate, and you do not choose medication or therapy, because (chances are good) both are appropriate, and in any case, medication is never appropriate without therapy, although the inverse may be true for some.
You have some choices. You can either go see a Developmental Pediatrician or a psychiatrist/ Neuropsychological evaluation combo. Both will get you good evaluations that you can use to keep the schools honest. If you choose the latter, you may get in more quickly, but you will have to supplement with speech and language, OT, vision (developmental) ENT, Neurology, genetics, etc, and guess which ones of these are appropriate, and then try to figure out how they fit into your primary evaluation by yourself. I usually prefer a Developmental Pediatrician, because if you need ancellary evaluation, you get it in one full report. It also takes quiet a while, so you probably are 6 months out. You cannot speed up the process and get the kind of evaluation you need, even if you don;t want to wait.
Contact the school by writing them. Tell them that you suspect that he has a disablity, and you want him evaluated. Say that his educational need is (Blank) and list what he is having trouble with. They will contact you, and send you a copy of your rights. They can delay evaluation by meeting with you and telling you what in class interventions they will try first. You should document what they are going to do, and have a date that they will get back to you to tell you if these things worked. At that point, you can request the evaluation if he still needs it. Even if he has Asperger, and even if you have a private evaluation, the school must see an educational need to evaluate (thought you can inisist and win that round) and he must not only have a qualifying diagnosis, but also an educational need for seriveces to get special education accomodations and assitance. Being high functioning makes this a frustrating road. Log on to www.wrightslaw.com and start reading about advocacy, you will need to learn everything you can to navigate the system. Remember, the schools are there to educate him, and if he has asperger, his issue straddles the medical-educational fence, so you will be providing a great deal of his therapy and treatment, and the school will be providing educational serivices such that he is functional in the classroom. Anything beyond functional, falls on you, and that is the probelm with kids with apsperger, they are so bright that they seem more functional than they are.
Out put is generally their issue, figuring out how to tell the teacher what they know in just the crazy way that the teacher set up the assingment, even though they know the matieral better than most. If you can;t write the answer in a cloud, the issue becomes how well you can write in a squigly circle, and not if you know how to spell all the weather words you just learned. He will benefit from considerable accomodations, and you may find that they don;t always go smoothly, but the older he gets, the more important it will become.
If you find it overwhelming, you can find an advocate on the wrightslaw site, they will go to meetings with you, and help you navigate, that is what I do.
Never know less than the school does about your son. Know exactly what he needs, from the best private evaluation you can get, then negotiate for everything you can get him at school, and provide the rest privately. Get him the very best medical care you can, and don't prejudge what is out there, it is really nothing like what you are afraid of. Everything you try will not help, but something may work wonders.
7 moms found this helpful
J.G. answers from San Antonio on October 25, 2010
What if you did the local route first, but also put your name on the waiting list. Then, 6 months from now you can get your "second opinion" with the Children's Med Center. Even if the local people say he needs such-n-such drug, doesn't mean you have to give it to him. It's just their evaluation.
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M.J. answers from Sacramento on October 25, 2010
The school district can not diagnose a medical condition. To have your son properly evaluated, you need to pursue that through your medical plan and seek out specialists, like developmental pediatricians (not regular ones) or psychiatrists. Personally, I would get the help sooner rather than later and disregard hearsay about local providers (form your own opinions). Labeling isn't a bad thing at all. If your child has a condition, you want to know what it is, the same way you would if your child had diabetes or cancer. If you want to call that labeling, so be it, but a diagnosis enables you to help your child.
The school district can help you through the IEP process, which provides a customized educational plan for your child to thrive in school. This might include special accommodations based on his medical condition. Again, not a bad thing. Some schools are better than others to adhering to IEPs than others, which is where lawyers come into play. In most cases, it's not a problem.
As far as medications, it will depend entirely on what type of treatment the doctors feel is necessary based on the diagnosis. Be open minded. No one will "pump your child full of meds." They might recommend medication as the best treatment option based on what works best in treating a condition. However, you always have the option of saying no thanks if you choose not to. I do encourage you not to shut off this option, though, because you may see wonderful results in helping your child. There is a ton of misinformation and flat-out lies out there about medications used to treat medical conditions and you should get your information from the doctors. They're the experts. Ask tons of questions if medication is even discussed, so you have the reassurances you need. You're your child's advocate.
Best of luck to you as you begin this process!
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L.M. answers from Washington DC on October 26, 2010
Public schools are extremely limited in what they can test for due to financial reasons and state time lines that must be followed.
As a teacher, I would say get any testing done that the school offers to get an IEP for your child. Then at least classroom accommodations can be made for his learning style. Then just wait for the appointment in DC. It is a tough situation because the doctors that are worth seeing are the hardest to get appointments for. Call that doctor office everyday to see if there were any cancellations that you could take, and you may luck out.
It is a shame because most public schools want to do so much more for their students; they are just not given the proper funding.
Good luck! I worked with a student with Aspergers. Remarkable person!!! His parents had to do private testing, but because we had reason to believe it was Aspergers, I started accommodations prior to test results coming back. Get the IEP, then legally, accommodations must be made.
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K.M. answers from Kansas City on October 25, 2010
We've had fantastic success with our public school and our daughter's IEP. She was dismissed a year ago because the inverventions and accommodations that were suggested to us worked and worked well.
We chose to work as a team with our school and it paid off. They listened to our concerns, we listened to their recommendations and we compromised. Our daugher was successful because of it.
It's not always a battle. You don't always have to "fight"- most schools have highly educated professionals that know what they are doing. Sure, they may be tied by rules and regs of the district, but a good team will find a way to make your child the best that he can be.
Do both. Get on the wait list and have a second opinion for your child. Even if they do recommend drugs, it is to your benefit to at least hear them out and then make your decision.
Having been down this road (my daughter has a learning disability), here are a few recommendations I have for you:
1.) Read and re-read Martha R's post. She works as an advocate and believe me, if I ever needed one, I would want her on my team. She contributes regularly to this forum. Go to Wright's Law. I've been there and it's easy to navigate and it's written in normal language. Educate yourself!
2.) Get organized. You are about to enter a world of paper work and signatures and meetings and notes. Talk to the school about how to keep track of and organize all of the paperwork.
3.) Keep an open mind. Nobody will ever know your child better than you, but listen to the professionals, too. Don't just immediately write off a suggestion- think about it carefully before you make any decisions.
Good luck. I hope for the best for your child, you seem to be ready to take this on and I wish you success! Please keep us posted!
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C.D. answers from Norfolk on October 26, 2010
We had private testing done but it was VERY expensive. After all the research I have done I am 100% sure my son has Aspergers but I have not had him identified as such as I did not want any labels attached. He is now in 7th grade and still struggles socially, but even that is improving. He qualified for a special program for middle school and even that is not as accademically challenging as he needs. (His nickname is the Almanac) You will need to provide enrichment outside of school for your son. The private testing did identify him as gifted and so he takes classes up at William and Mary in their SEP program. (Excellent program, check it out) For my son, the struggle has been the social skills, failure to check non-verbals from others, the lack of filter, etc. My advice to you is to be open with him. Believe me, he already knows he is different and will be relieved to know that there may be a reason. Also, you MUST be proactive with his school and advocate for his education. Good luck and contact me if you need any other help.
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M.K. answers from Chicago on October 25, 2010
The very best source of informaiton regarding these issues is Wrightslaw. Take a look at their website: http://www.wrightslaw.com/
A medical diagnosis is a separate (and somewhat unrelated, as far as the school is concerned) entity from an evaluation to determine what types of services are required for your son.
The school cannot provide you with a diagnosis for your son. However, they can (and will) execute their own assessment/evaluation of your son, no matter what you do. Their evaluation is what they will use to decide which, if any, services are necessary for your son to receive an apporpriate public education.
To best advocate for your son, you should do the following, prior to their evaluation (if at all possible):
1) Obtain a medical diagnosis from a Physician Specialist. This doesn't have to be from Children's Hospital -- any Physician Specialist who is able to make a medical diagnosis for your son will be fine. Look to your community and find other parents who have kids with Aspergers or PDD-NOS and ask who makes reliable diagnoses. Then, you can get your name on the waiting list for Children's, if you still want a 2nd opinion.
2) Find an independent professional, who is knowledgable about your child's disability, to evaluate your son (including classroom observation.) NOTE: This evalution is not for medical diagnostic purposes. This is to have a 3rd party run evaluations similar to what the school may conduct. Again, tap into your community to get some referrals.
The diagnosis alone does not, necessarily, warrant services from the school. However, a medical diagnosis is a very strong variable. The evaluation is the critical part. In the best case scenario, the evaluation from your indpendent professional matches the evalution from the school, and the recommendation for services is the same.
Hope this helps. It's a confusing world...try to find other Moms in your community for referrals and support.
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C. answers from Hartford on October 25, 2010
Like JessinTexas said, put your name on the waiting list, but have the school test him now. I know that there is lots of contentious discussions about public schools and IEPs. If the school system is good, they will put your child first and make good recommendations. It is as important to them as it is to you that your child suceeds. I went into my first school meeting with recorders, articles, advocates, etc. and they offered me more resources than I was even going to request. It has been an absolutely great relationship and not like the adversarial situations that I had heard about. I know it really varies with each district, but I think you should give the schools the benefit of the doubt so that they can start working with your child. Later, if you sense that your child is not getting what they need, then you have the Med Center appointment.
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