You suspect your child has a learning difference.

You have accomplished a lot already by observing your child with such care and compassion. Give yourself credit for recognizing that maybe, just maybe, a learning difference (LD) has gone undiagnosed.

So our first recommendation is … get a diagnosis! There are a few ways to go about this. You may even try more than one option.

Go to a general or pediatric psychologist—ideally a specialist in neuropsychology—for an assessment of your child’s learning profile.

  • Ask for a neuropsychological evaluation (“a neuropsych”) or a psychoeducational evaluation (“a psych-ed”).
  • Either type of evaluation provides a wealth of information. A neuropsych tends to provide deeper insight into why your child might be struggling in school and what interventions may be needed.
  • To find a provider who can evaluate your child, ask your primary care physician or visit ChildNEXUS. Or email us for a recommendation.

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  • Neuropsych and psych-eds cost approximately $5,000 minimum. Some providers offer sliding-scale fees based on household income; please be aware that the waiting lists for these lower-cost evaluations tend to be long.
  • If your child has ADD/ADHD and sees a behavioral pediatrician, start a conversation about your observations of your child. The behavioral pediatrician will not be able to provide a diagnosis, but may be able to refer you to a trusted psychologist or neuropsychologist.

Inform your school district that your child may need special education services. Request an assessment of your child.

  • The district will respond with an assessment plan. Upon your consent, the district will conduct the assessment at no cost and develop an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) for your child.
  • Even if your child does not attend public school, your school district is generally obliged to assess your child upon request.
  • An IEP is designed to indicate what educational support your child would need within the public school system. It is not equivalent to a neuropsych or a psych-ed, primarily in that it doesn’t make a diagnosis and will only recommend the interventions that a public school is able to provide.
  • An IEP is accepted and helpful in the Westmark admission process, but a neuropsych or a psych-ed will give us a greater understanding of your child’s academic and social-emotional profile.
  • The IEP process is notoriously difficult according to many parents. But there are online resources to guide you:
  • You may choose to consult an attorney who specializes in California special education law. These specialists can be valuable advocates in the IEP process.