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BellaOnline's Children with Special Needs Editor

Evaluations and Diagnosis Childhood Disability

When a child is newly diagnosed, many parents want to find out as much as possible about the condition or disability to help them decide how best to help their child find their true potential despite the challenges.

Later on, parents can get into the habit of scheduling regular evaluations due to the requirements of schools, funding organizations, or the convenience of medical professionals. Sometimes we just want to know what progress a child has made and forget that there is a great deal of life that can't be fit into an objective test. Perhaps we want to feel that all the time and energy we have invested results in a measureable outcome.

For children with chronic health conditions, monitoring and regular testing can make a positive difference in their lives and sometimes their survival. For many others, regularly scheduled evaluations and other measurements of progress or skills are trials that do not benefit them in the long or short term.

Some school districts use tests to mandate that the child earns a place in one classroom or another, or to keep certain children from growing up included with their mainstream peers. There is a wide diversity among children who are not diagnosed with anything, and it often takes very little effort or forethought to stretch the definition of diversity to include those who are evaluated as 'low functioning' or as having 'low potential.'

We have known for many years how to support and accommodate children with special needs in our communities and schools; professional and advocacy organizations have lists and descriptions of best practices. Where great placements and programs are nurtured, all children benefit. Where they don't exist, most students struggle.

We are seeing great controversy among mainstream students, families and professionals now that testing has become so important in regular classrooms. Perhaps we should take a second look at the evaluations our babies, toddlers and primary school children with disabilities endure.

Browse at your public library, local bookstore or online retailer for books like Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy: The Special Education Survival Guide or Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A Parents' Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning

IQ Test Performance - Riverbend DS Website
Cognitive Development in Young Children with Down Syndrome Developmental Strengths, Developmental Weaknesses
Testing and Cognitive Intelligence
Mixed Feelings about Early Intervention

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