Q & A on ADHD

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My child attends private school and demonstrates focus problems, tics, and some hyperactivity. He was recently diagnosed with ADHD by a physician who recommended a psychoeducational evaluation.

The public school district conducted the evaluation.  The evaluation dismissed physicians findings of ADHD.

Question: Our doctor reviewed the test results. He told us that the law said the WISC-IV test is to be administered only by a Phd. The “school psychologist” admittedly is not a Phd and has only her masters. Is he correct?

Answer: It is not a legal issue and not in the law.

Some Masters level school psychologists are qualified to administer the WISC.

Question: What recourse do we have in this situation?  Can the district interpret the results counter to the findings of the physician?

Answer: Yes.

Even if medically diagnosed as ADHD, the question is whether the ADHD adversely affects your son’s educational performance. This adverse effect is what qualifies him for services under IDEA 2004.

Question: Can we request that the district pay for a private evaluation?

Answer: Yes. You can request the district pay for an IEE.

Some advice.  You would have been much better off in the beginning and even now to have someone independent of the school system do the evaluation.

It is much like asking the fox guarding the chicken coop to give you a status report. When you obtain an evaluation under the IEE statute, will you have an evaluator who is truly independent? Will you have an advocate who is willing (or unwilling) to advocate for services for your child?

I rarely recommend that route, and instead recommend a truly private sector psycho-educational evaluation.

Question: We need some type of IEP so that the teachers at my sons’ school have specific parameters by which to gauge his success. The school needs guidelines for accommodations/modifications to his educational setting.

My son’s Processing Speed Index was extremely low.  All VMI were in the lower average range; Visual Perception 39 percentile. Despite these deficiencies, the district states he is normal and there is no need for a concern or written modifications.

Answer:You need to get a much better understanding of the relationship between standard scores and percentile ranks.

Time to do some homework. Read Chapter 10 and 11 of Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy. You will find your assignments there.

Read this comprehensive article (link below) to learn how to interpret and chart your child’s test scores and measure educational progress or lack of progress.

Tests and Measurements at https://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/tests_measurements.html

Or download Understanding Your Child’s Test Scores. https://www.wrightslaw.com/webex/test.scores.index.htm

Question: The district states that if my son truly had ADHD, there would not be even 5 minutes where he could sit quietly.

Answer: Not true.

Question: The school says my son’s difficulties are all normal for his age group.  “Welcome to middle school” is what we were told. They deny that children  with ADHD can focus on things they enjoy.

Answer: Again, not true.

Question: The school said on a rating scale of 1 to 5, my son would have to be rated 5’s by all teachers and parents all of the time to be considered ADHD. This seems to counter info that we have read.  Please advise.

Answer: Same as above. Take the time to make yourself an expert on your child’s disability. Use the articles, information, and resources on this page to find out more facts about ADHD.  Print any information you need to support your position.  Make a copy for the school and your child’s teachers.


Although in a private setting now, we intend for our son to attend public school in 2 years (for high school) as our other child has done.  It is therefore important that we establish his needs with the district.

Great job getting a head start in advocating for your child. We invite you to  attend one of our this year.  Special Education Law and Advocacy training programs. Here’s the 2011 Training Schedule.

If you cannot travel, you can download the 6.5 hour multimedia training.

  1. If your child has Adhd I would try having your child read out loud so they will remember what they read instead of reading quietly. Also try online brain games this will help with focus , memorization and memorizing.

  2. Your advice in getting an outside evaluation is so correct. When you go outside and their results indicate one thing – when the school district does the evaluation and it is very opposite the private one – it just doesn’t look good. It puts the parent in a better position I believe. When you reverse the situation and the school does it one way and the private evaluator sees it differently it puts the parent in a more awkward position as well as the private evaluator.

  3. My daughter is being evaluated for Special Education. She is in 7th grade, new to the school this year. She was in private school before. We had a educational evaluation done last spring and the school district accepted those testing diagnosis. She is dyslexic, LD in Math, written expression, dysgraphic and ADHD and place under a 504 plan. To get accommodations on the state assessment test we have to go the Special Ed route, I’m ok with it, she is going to need an IEP. From our initial meeting they had 60 days to evaluate/test and get the results to us, we are know on day 63 and I do not have a completed FIE, what are my rights? What is the best way to handle this?

  4. I have a new student for related services, 4.6 years old (as of 2/11) 135 IQ, average to above average pre-academic scores, very short attention span and needs some help with social skills. Barely qualified under autism from rating scale but no rating scales for ADHD were completed. This student has been placed in a special day kindergarten class. She’s not even age appropriate for kinder. Is this legal?

  5. I agreed to a psychiatric evaluation of my son by an out of district psychiatrist. My son currently has an IEP, but we suspect he has ADHD. Who is the psychiatrist’s duty of confidentiality owed to? As the parent of the patient, I think I should have a chance to review his findings first. The psychiatrist has stated that he needs to check with the school district to see if he can even show it to me directly. Several years ago when the school had me bring my son to a neurologist, the neurologist allowed me to see his letter to the school first.

  6. Keep in mind an IEP is a provision for FAPE in public schools, not in private schools. Although local public school districts provide evaluations for private schools as part of their child find responsibility, actual responsibility for services can vary by states and districts depending on arrangements with the school district. Students who are found eligible in a private school setting are given an ISP or Individualized Services Plan. Although ISPs are typically changed into IEPs if a student transfers into a public school, how supports are delivered can vary quite a bit. For instance, special ed teachers consulting with private school staff for goals as opposed to direct special ed. in the student in public school.

    Good luck advocating for your child and remember to be polite and note your concerns in writing to the school.

    • Are they legally allowed to delay and ignore all attempts to help to identify my son if I dont ask in writing?

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