Do I Need an Evaluation?
While there may be some cases in which it is good to wait, generally the answer to this question is - YES! While you absolutely do not need an evaluation to get started with remediation, it can help guide treatment and answer many questions for you, as parents as well as for the clinicians working with your child.
Evaluations can be provided through the school as part of an Individual Education Program (IEP) eligibility process. The trick here is that you want to ask for IEP eligibility testing NOT learning disability testing.
School-based evaluations are the most cost-effective route and they guarantee school buy-in, but they can take months to complete, and depending on the school, may not provide a lot of specific recommendations.
Private Learning Disability Evaluations
Educational diagnosticians, psychologists, and neuropsychologists can also provide evaluations. These evaluations often require parents to pay out of pocket. In some cases, insurance may cover part or all of the evaluation but this is not common. Typically if your insurance is willing to cover part of the cost you will be required to submit for reimbursement through your insurance.
Private evaluations can be costly but often provide more comprehensive recommendations for your child and can often be scheduled earlier than school-based evaluations in order to speed up the process in getting your child the specific help he or she needs.
Is it worth it?
The bottom line is, children who demonstrate academic struggles early on, will continue to struggle throughout their academic career if they do not receive instruction that meets their specific learning style and needs.
The “wait and see” approach is never a good option to take; any amount of additional academic support will never hurt a child but the lack of necessary additional support can absolutely have lifelong impacts. Whether you choose to have your child evaluated through the school or through a private evaluator is completely personal and may be dependent upon on your child’s needs and your family's situation.
The value of knowledge and data about your child’s academic strengths and challenges will prove to be an extremely worthwile investment.