I think my daughter has a learning disability but school says she doesn't. What do I do now?
I don’t think the school’s evaluation of my daughter is accurate. They say she doesn’t have a learning disability, but I’m 100% sure that something isn’t right. There is talk about implementing an RTI program, and I am not sure whether this is good or bad, helpful or not. What do I do now?
What a good question! And here’s another: If the school conducted an evaluation because of their quest to understand why your daughter is struggling in school, what did they discover as part of that testing and what do they plan to do about it? The underlying message is not necessarily whether your child qualifies for special education services, but rather, what is the school prepared to do to ensure that your child have a successful school experience? Will they meet with teachers on a regular basis to review class content and teach her strategies for studying for exams? Will they provide edits to draft papers and offer opportunities to resubmit work before assigning a grade? These are examples of actions that can be implemented with or without special education classification. That said, if students (and their parents) and school personnel are not able to negotiate these types of accommodations and supports on an informal basis, parents can (and should) request (in writing) a formal committee meeting at which time a discussion should take place about the benefits of an independent evaluation. (Note: In most cases, parents must bear the burden of this expense, so working with school personnel to pinpoint strategies to address your child’s needs is always the best approach.)
If indeed your child’s school is implementing an RTI program, it means that renewed efforts are going to be made to understand what has been working for your daughter (and other students) in terms of instruction in the general curriculum and what if any changes might be implemented to enhance the progress of all students. If “what’s not right” ends up to have something to do with classroom instruction, RTI will offer a lifeline of help to the classroom teacher and to individual students. If your daughter continues to experience challenges, even when tier one (whole class), tier two (small group or more targeted) and tier three (more individualized) types of instruction and intervention are offered, the “proof” of your child qualifying for special education support services will be ready and waiting!
Sometimes a child has a learning difference that the schools do not diagnose - like dyslexia. Dyslexia requires certain tests in phonological processing and awareness, decoding and encoding. A neuropsychologist can diagnose this or an experienced clinical educational psychologist. I advise you go get a private evaluation. A mother's intuition is usually correct and you do not want to wait until the school decides that you were ultimately right. If your daughter does have a learning difference you are going to need to get immediate intervention.