Last week we talked about some of the essential questions to ask of an assessment: Questions of An Assessment: Part I.
We emphasized asking fundamental questions first such as:
- Does my child have a problem? (yes or no)
- If there is a problem(s), where does it lie?
- How mild, moderate or severe is the problem?
- With a reading problem, what type is it?
- Do other professionals need to be brought in?
It was emphasized that the first questions need not be, “does my child have dyslexia or ADHD” (or some other syndrome casually tossed around these days) – that there were other essential questions to consider.
Starting with those questions (hopefully being answered by the person who did the evaluation), what are the next set of essential questions?
What do we do next? I believe that this is a fundamental question that is not easily answered. What may be easy for one family or situation may not be for another. Factors such as availability of resources (i.e., both time and money) need to be considered. For example, tutoring usually involves twice weekly sessions that can be pricey. With “next step thinking” don’t go too far down the road. What are the best next steps in the realm of reality that can be done over the next four to six months or so?
What is the school’s responsibility? Again, this is a very complex question and issue. Just because an outside evaluator identifies issues or areas of concern, does not mean that the school is going to say, “Oh, Dr. Selznick, thank you so much. We will start program of remediation tomorrow.” It rarely works that way. It’s important to emphasize that the school will have specific guidelines as to who is or is not deemed as eligible for services. That doesn’t mean you should be purely passive and take whatever the school gives you, but you need to understand the realities and the challenges.
What can be done at home? Parents shouldn’t have to feel that they need to become reading specialists or behavioral interventionists in the home, but there are often very doable activities that can be easily managed by parents in the home and that can have a big impact on a child’s progress. There are so many basic activities (to be discussed in a later post) that are fun for parents and kids that don’t take a lot of time or experience to implement. One hint, if you can, get a white board set up in a basement (if you have one).
Beside direct intervention like tutoring, what are ways around the problem? Sure specialized tutoring is essential but you need to consider how to get around the problem. These are often referred to as “accommodations.” They represent simple adjustments that don’t take a lot of time and effort in order to help the child in a particular situation. There are classic ones that may or may not apply to your child’s needs such as providing the child with extra time, but there may be ones that are not commonly considered that may be more helpful to your child and his/her needs. An example would be having the teacher come over to the child and preview the “low frequency” (big words) on a worksheet before the child has to do an activity. That may be more impactful than giving extra time to a child who can’t read the words anyway.
Ask the right questions of the person evaluating your kid and you will come away with a more satisfying experience than if you just focus on the question of label.