Child Evaluation

We find the concept of Child Evaluation in these 2 U.S. laws:

  • 1) The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and in
  • 2) The Early Intervention Program

This article explains Child Evaluation in relation to both of these laws.

Why evaluating your child?

If your child is physically or mentally handicapped, it is obvious that your child needs special care and attention. But there are many other things that might need attention. Not all strange behavior or slow development need special attention. In many cases a child is a little slower than others and they will close the development gap a little later without any special intervention.

If you think your child has developmental issues, you could consider a child evaluation. Especially during the early development stages it is important to take action. A lot can be done to get your children back on track.

1) The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Your disabled child of divorce can enter the special education and related services. Those are provided for free. But in order to qualify, the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) requires that your child is evaluated. The evaluation information must be detailed and complete enough to be able to determine the special education and related services needs.

When considering a child evaluation?

These signals can indicate your child has a disability:

  • Mental problems
    • poor results at school
    • being overactive
    • behavior problems (ADHD for example)
    • learning difficulties
    • difficulties with social relationships
    • communication difficulties
    Physical problems:
    • poor physical coordination
    • poor physical strength
    • hearing problems
    • visual problems
    • eating problems
    • digestion problems

Child Evaluation Objectives

  • To find out whether a child is disabled according the definition of the IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
  • To find out what the child's educational needs are

The IDEA disabilities categories are:

  • Autism
  • Deafness and hearing problems
  • Blindness and visual problems
  • Developmental delay
  • Lagging emotional development
  • Intellectual disability
  • Health impairment
  • Specific learning disability
  • Speech and language difficulties
  • Brain injury

Who can conduct a child evaluation?

Schools, on request of the parents or with the approval of the parents. This is by law and for free for the parents. However, the school can refuse an evaluation request. In this case, the school is required to explain why to the parents.

What is evaluated?

The individual child is evaluated. It is much more than evaluating his functioning and behavior in the classroom. The subjects for evaluation are:

  • health
  • vision
  • hearing
  • social status
  • emotional status
  • general intelligence
  • school performance
  • communicative status
  • physical abilities

How is the evaluation done?

The initial evaluation must be done within 60 days.

a) Review of existing data

School records, information from teachers, information from parents, results from other assessments on the child and more, depending on the situation.

The information must be enough for the evaluators to decide whether the child is in one or more disability categories, what the special education and related services needs are. If this is not the case, additional investigations must be done.

b) Additional investigations

The evaluation must use various different tools and methods. More than one test or procedure must have been performed to make a legitimate conclusion. The procedures and the evaluation must be done by skilled professionals.

c) Determination of eligibility

The parents participate in the decision by law. Once the outcome of the evaluation is that the child has one or more disabilities, your child has the right to enter the IDEA program .

Here the child evaluation ends.

The next step is to develop the Individual Education Program (IEP).

Individual Education Program (IEP)

The IEP team

The IEP team consists of: the parents, the regular teacher, at least one special teacher, a qualified representative of the public agency, someone that can translate the evalutation results into required education or instruction, others with special expertise and, if appropriate, the disabled child him- or herself.

The IEP document

The Individual Education Program (IEP) is a document stating the individual special education needs that a child will get. The IEP is created by the IEP team.

The document states the start date, the frequency and the duration of the special education program.

For more information, contact NICHCY.


2) Infants and Todlers with Disabilities.

For infants and toddlers with disabilities there is the Early Intervention Program For Disabled Children. Disabilities must be detected when they are young. That allows for on time intervention to minimize the negative effects. A child evaluation needs to be done to find out whether your child has a suspected disabilty.

This Early Intervention Program is U.S. Law. It is “a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interagency system that provides early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.”

The disabilities in these areas of development may qualify for Early Intervention: physical, cognitive, adaptive, communicative, or social and/or emotional development.

For information about Early Intervention in your state, please visit the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center’s State Part C Coordinator Contact Listing.

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