She’s just lazy. He’s not motivated. School is not her thing. These labels and perceptions can not only hurt, they can be 100% inaccurate. Students with undiagnosed learning disabilities may appear to be slacking off when their brains are simply unable to process information the way others expect them to. This can lead to frustration and an unfounded belief that a student is “less capable” and unable to succeed in the traditional classroom. One way parents can address these misguided beliefs and labels is to pursue psychoeducational testing and discover if their child has a learning disability.
While parents often want to do all they can to help and support their children academically, there are a number of concerns that arise when considering psychoeducational testing and learning accommodations. Here are the top three concerns we hear on a consistent basis:
I don’t want to medicate my child for a learning disability. What is the point of testing if I know I won’t use medication for my child?
The purpose of psychoeducational testing is to identify any learning disorders that may be negatively impacting your student’s academic progress. Interventions such as medication and accommodations may be discussed but are certainly not mandated. Having the knowledge of how a child learns and her strengths and weaknesses paves the way to access interventions both in school and in the medical community. Ultimately, you choose how you would like to address your child’s learning disability. This might look like accommodations without medicine, a combination of accommodations and medicine, or neither. Testing simply provides an avenue to identify learning disabilities and access these types of interventions should you choose.
I don’t want my child to be stigmatized because of a learning disability. Receiving accommodations could lead to stereotypes and insults, and I don’t want my child to go through that.
While it is true taking advantage of accommodations may lead to unwanted labels, it’s important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of academic accommodations. Would you rather your child feel more confident academically, or fit in among his or her peers? It could be helpful to talk with your high schooler about potential impacts of requesting in-class and testing accommodations, then decide what is most comfortable for your child.
Chances are a child with a learning disability may already feel out of place in school, even if no formal label has been given. Years ago, I worked with a student 1:1 who I could see had ADHD but had never been tested. His parents were resistant to testing because they knew they did not want to use medication. The student was often frustrated by his grades and his disorganization; he didn’t understand why school seemed so much harder for him even though he worked harder than most of his peers. Eventually, they had testing done when he was in high school. I remember the first day I went to his house after his testing results came back; he lit up with a huge smile and proudly proclaimed, “Did you know I’m a genius?” I said “yes” because of course I had seen his potential from our work together. He realized through testing that he actually had above average intelligence but his processing issues were making traditional school a challenge for him.
He was able to receive accommodations, such as extended testing time, and also worked on specific strategies for organization. More importantly. his confidence and motivation improved greatly!
When college admission reps receive test scores, will they see that my child took the SAT/ACT with accommodations? Wouldn’t that negatively impact his or her chance of acceptance?
No! The score report does not indicate if an accommodation was or was not used. College reps can only access test scores. That’s why there’s no need to worry if testing accommodations could lead to discrimination as this information is not available for college reps to see. If you think accommodations could help your student be successful on the SAT or ACT, it makes sense to seriously consider the option of requesting test accommodations.
If you have exhausted all avenues to help your child succeed academically, such as collaborating with teachers and pursuing subject specific tutoring, it might be time for testing. By preparing your child ahead of time and offering plenty of support and encouragement, the psychoeducational testing process can be an enlightening and helpful experience.