There is that place of the bell-shaped curve that is always challenging for schools and clinicians.  I call it the “zone of no zone.”  It’s that area of the curve that technically falls in the “average range,” yet is problematic from a functional point of view.

A quick overview of the scores may be helpful.

For most psychological and educational tests, standard scores of 100 are right in the middle average (50th %ile).  Scores that fall to the lower portion of the average range hover around the score of 90 (which is the 25th %ile).  The 25th % ile means that 75% are better than you on any given task being measured.

From the school’s vantage point, most kids falling in the low 90’s typically are not classifiable, that is they are not viewed as being eligible to receive services in special education.

That is they are “average.”

Yet, from the parents’ point of view they see this “average” child struggling on a day-to-day basis and they feel at a loss with their child not receiving any extra attention at school.

Compounding this challenge is the confusion that can arise when an outside professional “diagnoses” a child as having a learning disability such as dyslexia even with the scores from the outside evaluation falling in a similar range.

A learning disability like dyslexia is not a broken bone that shows up on an x-ray yielding a “yes” or “no” as to whether the child has it or not.  There are so many variables that go into making the decision, tilting the diagnosis in one direction or the other.   Some of these variables are not quantifiable such as whether one or the other parent struggled with same issues or was previously diagnosed.   It’s an example of a non-quantifiable piece of information that adds to the story and needs to be factored in to the ultimate conclusion.

In most clinical assessments there is an interplay of the quantitative and the qualitative.  With special education assessments, the ultimate eligibility decisions are almost exclusively quantitative in nature.

Takeaway Point

If your child is falling out in that “zone of no zone,” that is the lower portion of average,   the likelihood is your he will be struggling even if viewed as technically average.  While the “average” child will not likely be viewed as eligible for special education, if you can, try and take action in your own hands.

You know your child better than any clinician or special education team.  Seek help, whether or not your child is officially “diagnosed.”

Get good tutoring and professional guidance on what you can do at home.

There’s no gain in waiting.

For a free 15 minute consultation with Dr. Selznick, email

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