So You Think You Need an Expert: A Cautionary Tale (Part II)

May 6, 2024 | Independent Expert Evaluation

So You Think You Need an Expert: A Cautionary Tale

Part II: How to Choose an Expert


A. Can We Use Our Pediatrician?

Your pediatrician is your child’s regular physician. They perform health exams, do wellness checkups, give vaccinations, and diagnose and treat illnesses. While your pediatrician may agree to write a prescription for services from your school district, that usually happens because the parents request it. Pediatricians are not experts in educational disability, and most likely the prescription they might agree to write will fall far short of the necessary components of an expert evaluation.


B. Can We Choose Someone for Whom Our Insurance Will Pay?

When a parent seeks an expert evaluation to determine their child’s educational needs, they should find an expert who is experienced in their field, who understands special education classifications, and who is not afraid to state in writing the specific needs your child has. Find the right expert first, then talk to them about accepting your insurance as payment.


C. Should We Request an Independent Expert Evaluation?

Your school district may be required to provide your child with an independent expert evaluation (“IEE”) in certain situations.

School districts are charged with the responsibility to evaluate children who are suspected of having a disability, and they have broad authority to determine which evaluations to perform.  Your district may agree or may refuse your request. Make sure that, if you do request an IEE, you’re careful which expert you request. In determining which expert will do the evaluation(s), keep in mind that school districts usually have a cap on the cost that they will pay for evaluations, and they will usually present you with a list of “approved” evaluators.  However, the law does not permit the district to narrow your choice to only the experts on its list, and if your evaluator has the appropriate license or credentials in her field, that should suffice with regard to the necessary approval.


D. Focus on Your Child’s Areas of Perceived Deficit.

Any time you’re looking for an evaluation of your child to determine his or her educational needs, you should review the areas of your child’s perceived deficit. You can ask yourself if:

  • Your child’s intellectual aptitude is normal.
  • Your child is struggling in reading, writing, or math.
  • Your child has difficulty hearing.
  • Your child has difficulty keeping up with the flow of conversation.
  • Your child has trouble differentiating conversation from background noise.
  • Your child engages in repetitive activities, resistance to change in daily routine, unusual responses to sensory experiences, or lack of responsiveness to others.
  • Your child is taking longer to reach developmental milestones.
  • Your child has difficulty communicating.
  • Your child’s speech is unintelligible to an unfamiliar listener.
  • Your child exhibits inappropriate types of behavior under normal circumstances.
  • Your child is plagued by a pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
  • Your child has physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
  • Your child is unable to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers or teachers.
  • Your child has malfunction or loss of bones, muscle, or tissue.
  • Your child has a chronic condition that leaves him with limited strength, vitality, or alertness.
  • Your child has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD.
  • Your child is between the ages of three and five and either experiences developmental delay or has a disabling condition.
  • Your child has suffered a traumatic brain injury (“TBI”).
  • Your child has a visual impairment.

Once you have narrowed down your child’s areas of perceived deficits, you’re better equipped to get the evaluations you need.



Stay Tuned for Part III Next Month: Components of a Good Expert Evaluation


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