Deciding on an evaluation

By The Understood Team

At a glance

  • An evaluation can lead to kids getting the right support at school.

  • It sheds light on a child’s difficulties and strengths.

  • Many families worry about labels and whether kids will be treated differently.

Once you understand what an evaluation is, you may wonder if you should get your child evaluated.

It’s a big step. And for some families, it can be a tough decision. You may worry about your child being labeled. You might also question if your child really needs to be tested.

The more answers you have, the easier it is to make an informed decision. This guide offers information and advice that can help you decide.

What happens in an evaluation

What’s the process like? What will your child experience? The evaluation process can vary. It depends on who’s doing it and what your child is struggling with. But even if the process is somewhat different, the testing itself is largely the same. Here’s what to expect in a school evaluation.

The benefits of an evaluation

Having your child evaluated is the first step toward getting supports and services at school. But testing doesn’t only shed light on your child’s challenges. It can give you a better understanding of your child’s strengths, too. Having both of those pieces of information can help the school — and you — find strategies that work.

When to seek an evaluation

It can be hard to know when to have your child evaluated. You may wonder if your child will outgrow difficulties, or if they’re serious enough for you to take action. But just being concerned may be reason enough to look into it.

Worries about stigma and labeling

You might wonder what an evaluation could mean for your child socially. Will your child be labeled or subjected to unfair myths? Will other kids treat your child differently? Will your child be bullied? It’s also common to worry about what an evaluation means for your child’s future.

Considering a private evaluation

If you’re thinking about a private evaluation, you may have a different set of questions or concerns. Private evaluations are done by a professional outside of school, and they can be expensive. This professional may use many of the tests a school would use. But private evaluations are often more in-depth.

If you’re considering a private evaluation and are concerned about the price, explore resources for finding free or low-cost private evaluations.

Considering an ADHD evaluation

If you think your child has ADHD, there’s only one way to know for sure. You’ll need to get your child properly assessed by a professional who works with kids with ADHD. For some families, this is a difficult step. There are lots of unfortunate myths about ADHD.

Considering an early intervention evaluation

If you have a very young child, getting an early intervention evaluation can lead to supports even before your child starts school. Learn what to expect in an early intervention evaluation.

Preparing for what’s next

Before deciding for or against an evaluation, get information and feedback from other people who work directly with your child. That includes teachers, social workers, and doctors who know your child well. If your child is older, you may want to talk it through with your child before making a decision.

Here are the next steps in your evaluation journey:

Key takeaways

  • ADHD evaluations are different from school evaluations.

  • There are pros and cons to both private and school evaluations.

  • Before deciding on an evaluation, get feedback from people who work with your child and who know your child well.

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    About the author

    About the author

    The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Ellen Braaten, PhD is the director of LEAP at Massachusetts General Hospital.