By law, school evaluations for learning and attention issues are free. But for the most part, private evaluations are not free, and they can be expensive. Still, there are places that offer low-cost or free private evaluations. The trick is knowing where to find them. Here’s a list of resources that can help you locate the options in your area.
- Local universities: Most universities have graduate programs in clinical psychology. And many have programs in school psychology. Typically, universities have clinics where students do their training. These clinics offer evaluations that are nearly free to families that need them. Students do the evaluations under the supervision of an experienced psychologist. You can contact your local college or university and ask if they have a clinic that performs evaluations.
- Area teaching hospitals: Teaching hospitals may give evaluations as part of research projects they have underway. Check with hospitals in your area to see if that’s an option. The psychiatry department is the most likely to be doing such research. But you can also try the psychology and neurology departments.
- Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA): LDA, an Understood founding partner, provides information and resources to people with learning disabilities and their parents. Each state has a local chapter that may be able to assist you in finding free or low-cost evaluation options in your area.
- Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) or Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs): The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides funding for every state to have at least one PTI. Each center provides support and information about resources. Learn how to find a PTI near you.
- Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA Center): ECTA is the central hub to find the early intervention system in your state. If you’re concerned about how your toddler or preschooler is developing, you can self-refer for a free early intervention evaluation.
- Samhsa.gov: SAMHSA is the website of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. One of the issues they cover is ADHD. The site has a section called the Treatment Referral Routing Service that provides confidential information about local providers.
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) ADHD Resource Center: AACAP is a nonprofit resource center. It works to provide information and clinical resources for parents. You can use AACAP’s website to find child and adolescent psychiatrists and other mental health professionals in your area.
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) network: HRSA provides a nationwide network of community health centers for families who don’t have access to primary health care. If you don’t have a pediatrician to help refer you to a specialist, finding a center near you can be a good place to start.
- Children’s Dyslexia Centers, Inc.: This Scottish Rite Masons project has centers that provide free dyslexia tutoring services in 13 states. Although the centers do not do diagnostic testing, you can contact them to help you find a resource in your area. (If you are a resident of Texas, the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children will take referrals for evaluation at the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia.)
- 211.org: This free service connects people with a range of local services in their area. In almost every state you can also call 2-1-1 to get easy access to information about health and human services. 211’s specialists help evaluate your needs and figure out your options for local programs and services to help.
If you have insurance, it’s a good idea to contact your insurance company, too. Your policy may cover the majority of the cost of an evaluation. Some types of evaluations may not be covered, however.
Being a strong advocate for your child means knowing where to look for help. If you’re considering a private evaluation, this list of resources is a good start. You may also want to see the pros and cons of a school evaluation versus a private evaluation. Also, explore questions to ask a private evaluator once you find one.