Assessments (also called evaluations) play a crucial role in determining the nature and extent of a child’s disability, forming the basis for their individualized education plan (IEP) by school or individual program plan (IPP) with the regional center. While schools and regional centers conduct evaluations, there are several compelling reasons why parents should consider investing in a private assessment conducted by an independent evaluator.
- You may not agree with their results or recommendations
Parents may find themselves in disagreement with the evaluation results provided by the school or regional center. This disagreement can stem from the diagnosis itself or the recommended services. For instance, a parent may strongly believe that an intensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program is the most appropriate educational approach for their child, while the school district may propose a special autism class. In such cases, parents’ opinions, although valuable, may not carry significant weight. By obtaining a private assessment from an informed professional, parents can present a well-founded justification for the recommended program based on their child’s unique needs.
2. You want an Unbiased Professional Opinion:
Opting for a private assessment ensures parents receive an honest and professional opinion from an evaluator who is financially neutral. Unlike professionals tied to funding entities, an independent assessor can offer an objective viewpoint and recommendations for treatment based solely on the child’s best interests. An independent assessment provides a second opinion that is not bound by any unwritten policies or restrictions. It serves as an important tool for determining the child’s capabilities and current levels of functioning, deserving equal consideration alongside assessments conducted by the school district or regional center.
3. You want to find a knowledgeable Evaluator.
When seeking a private assessment, don’t go for just any doctors on your providers’ list. You want a doctor (psychologist, neurologist) who possesses a deep understanding of autism and ABA treatment. Seek referrals from parent support groups like us, or consult with a special education attorney for reliable evaluators. Ask relevant questions during the initial contact to ensure their recommendations align with your goals, including specifying the desired hours of treatment. Additionally, it is important that the chosen evaluator is willing and ready to testify if required in future legal proceedings.
4. You want to Share the Results
Once you get the private assessment, study the report to identify the core components that should be integrated into your child’s IEP and IPP. Provide a copy of the assessment to your school district and regional center at least 4-5 days before the IEP or IPP meeting, allowing them ample time for review. Ensure that all members of the IEP team give meaningful consideration to the assessment’s recommendations. Use the assessment results to guide your objectives and questions during the meeting, with the aim of having the private assessment’s recommendations adopted and incorporated into your child’s IEP.
In sum, private assessments offer parents valuable insights, independent opinions, and the ability to advocate for their child’s specific needs during the IEP or IPP process. By obtaining a private assessment, parents can contribute to the development of an effective IEP/IPP that aligns with their child’s requirements and maximizes their potential for growth and progress.