Formal evaluations examine how your child processes information. There are different kinds of evaluations, including educational evaluations (which assess reading, writing, math, and spelling ability) and neuropsychological evaluations (which develop a wide profile of a child’s skills and abilities in reasoning, learning, memory, visual and auditory processing, listening comprehension, verbal expression, executive functioning skills, and academic abilities).

Evaluations also establish a baseline for measuring your child’s progress, and they are a necessary step to qualifying for accommodations or special education services. Schools are legally required to provide an evaluation according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The school might be the first to suggest an evaluation, or you can begin the process yourself by requesting an evaluation in writing.

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A functional assessment is an approach to figuring out why your child acts a certain way. It uses a variety of techniques to understand what’s behind certain behaviors. This includes looking at non-academic factors that might be contributing to your child’s frustration with learning.

Knowing what’s behind behavior can help you and the school find ways to change the behavior. The basic idea behind this approach is that your child’s behavior serves a purpose. Whether they are aware of it or not, your child acts a certain way to get to a desired outcome or goal.

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