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What assessment does my child need to diagnosis her disability and what are IEEs?

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

If you are a parent of a child with disabilities, you are not alone in asking this question. There are different assessments used to target different disorders and disabilities, and schools and independent evaluators should be using a full battery of tests to assess all areas of a student’s suspected disability. It’s the law.

Here are the different “types” of assessment that may be recommended for your child, in no particular order:

Psycho-Ed Assessment - This is an assessment generally conducted by the School Psychologist to determine the cognitive, academic, and social-emotional strengths and weaknesses of your child.

Psychological Assessment - Psychological Assessments examine how your child performs emotionally, how your child functions at school and at home, and what your child’s strengths and weaknesses are.

Neuropsychological Assessment - A Neuropsychological Evaluation is more comprehensive than a psychological assessment. In addition to examining cognitive and personality assessments, a Neuropsychological Evaluation delves deeper into diagnosing children with brain trauma as well as ADHD, ASD, Dyslexia, OCD, and other neurological conditions. The neuropsychologist will be using specific “Assessments” based on the different suspected disabilities.

Speech and Language Assessment* - This does not just assess a child’s speech. This is a comprehensive assessment that evaluates your child’s family history, hearing, speech, phonological awareness, writing, social communication, etc. to help diagnose articulation disorders, learning disorders, social communication disorders, and more.

Education Evaluation - A comprehensive test of your child’s cognitive abilities, including a review of the IEP, past testing, classroom observation, and evaluation of your child’s reading, writing, and math skills in order to identify learning disorders and learning disabilities.

Occupational Therapy Evaluation - This can be important if your child has a suspected disability of Dysgraphic or a Visual-Motor Disorder, and requires OT to help with handwriting and cutting, or if your child needs self-help skills such as eating or dressing.

Physical Therapy Evaluation - To ensure that your child is functional in the educational setting and can access the curriculum, and determine whether PT is required.

When you ask the school to evaluate your child for special education eligibility, the district is required to conduct assessments. “Independent Evaluations” are assessments that you privately obtain outside of school. Some are covered through insurance. Some are not. Click here for a great breakdown on "Private vs. School Testing Evaluations: Pros and Cons."

“Independent Education Evaluations (IEEs)” are slightly different because you can request an IEE through the school if you disagree with their evaluation and want an outside, objective provider to repeat the evaluation and have the school pay for it. Under federal law the district is required to pay for 100% of the cost. Under Massachusetts law, however, the district pays a percentage of the cost based on a family’s income. There is a lot more to IEEs. Please contact me if you have questions about your child’s evaluations and the need for an IEE.

*Of note, if your child has a disability that impacts communication, such as an auditory processing disorder, is non-verbal, has a vision or hearing impairment you can talk to the speech language pathologist at the school about getting your child an AAC (Augmented and Alternative Communication) Evaluation in order to obtain an appropriate AAC device or AT so your child can access the curriculum.


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