Frequently Asked Questions
Isn't my child just lazy or unmotivated?
Many children with learning disabilities actually work much harder than other students to compensate for their disability before they get diagnosed. Learning disabilities are not the result of lazy students and working harder will not overcome it. Students with learning disabilities require support that meets their needs, but that is not due to a lack of motivation to learn. Lack of motivation is a symptom of unmet learning needs and should be addressed in a successful IEP or 504 plan meeting.
What is an IEP?
An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a document that lays out the unique combination of instruction, services, and supports a child with a learning disability is entitled to in order to meet their educational needs. An IEP is developed with the school, the student, and the family. It will include assessment information; learning needs and accommodations; testing accommodations; services; promotion criteria; and learning goals.
What is a 504 plan?
A 504 plan (named from Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act) is given to students who have a disability, and either do not qualify for special education services or whose parents do not want to go through the special education system to receive services or accommodations. To qualify for a 504 plan, a student must have a documented impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. It is often used for students who require medication throughout the day.
Who can diagnose a disability?
Typically only a psychologist who completes psychoeducational testing on a child can determine if a child has a learning disability that fits into the 13 categories under IDEA. Your child's pediatrician can also diagnose certain health conditions that can qualify as a disability.
What is a psychoeducational evaluation?
A psychoeducational evaluation (psych-ed eval for short) is an evaluation done by a licensed psychologist that examines how your child learns, how they process information, their academic strengths and weaknesses, and their social functioning. This includes evaluating how your child approaches questions and solves problems, as well as their memory, attention, hearing, speech and language processing, and other academic skills. There are several psych-ed evaluations, some of the most common ones are the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) and the Woodcock-Johnson. The psychologist may also give other evaluations in order to measure things like memory, language processing, or problem-solving depending on your child’s needs.
Who can diagnose a disability?
Typically only a psychologist who completes educational psychological testing on a child can determine if a child has a learning disability that fits into the 13 categories under IDEA. Your child's pediatrician can also diagnose certain health conditions that can qualify as a disability.
Does this mean my child can't graduate high school or attend college?
Absolutely not! Many children diagnosed with learning disabilities graduate high school and go on to successfully finish college. Students with learning disabilities learn differently, but that does not mean they will not be successful in school or college. Many colleges have offices dedicated to supporting students with disabilities.
What is special education?
Special education refers to the continuum of specially designed instruction, services, and supports designed to meet the needs of a child. It is not a one-size-fits-all label but rather a unique combination of services and supports created to support children in reaching their educational potential. A child who qualifies for special education will receive an IEP that documents the combination of services and supports tailored to meet their educational needs. Student services may include assistive technology like hearing aids, FM radio units, or computers; related services like occupational or physical therapy, special and language services, and counseling; different settings including Integrated Co-teaching (ICT) with two teachers or special education teacher support services (SETSS); testing accommodations; and other services.