Written by Dr. Sheila Clonan
9/5/15 at 8:05 pm
If you live in Central New York and are looking for out of school resources to have your child tested for educational issues such as learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, giftedness, school anxiety, or behavioral issues, you may find the search daunting. The fact is that outside of the public school system, there is a shortage of qualified professionals offering comprehensive psychoeducational testing services for children. This is especially true in Central New York or the areas between Binghamton, Watertown, Rochester, and Utica, where specialized services can be challenging to find. I’ve had many parents tell me that they were given a list of providers by their school or physician, called all 15-20 phone numbers only to find most disconnected, no longer in practice, or not qualified to provide the desired service.
So what is the best way to go about finding a qualified independent evaluator?
There are different types of professionals who are qualified, to varying degrees, to conduct a private psychoeducational evaluation. Although Clinical Psychologists are primarily trained in counseling, many also conduct psychological and educational testing. Perhaps because they tend to offer an array of services—from therapy, counseling, to assessment—there are many more licensed clinical psychologists in practice in our area (the Syracuse area) as compared to other kinds of psychologists. However, they also tend to have less extensive experience- and less training- in assessment than other kinds of psychologists.
Neuropsychologists can conduct specialized tests of brain processing and functioning, but tend to be the scarcest in terms of child psychologists—particularly in smaller areas of Central New York. Finally, some licensed psychologists in private practice have their doctorate in school psychology, meaning that they have extensive training in the administration- and more importantly—analysis and interpretation--- of a wide array of cognitive, educational, psychological, and neuropsychological assessment measures. Again, licensed school psychologists in private practice tend to be somewhat harder to find in smaller regions, however.
Finally, some universities offer free or low cost assessments as part of their training programs.
For example, Syracuse University’s Psychoeducational Teaching Laboratory offers low cost assessments utilizing student clinicians who are studying to be school psychologists or special education teachers monitored and supervised by licensed professionals. This can be a good option for families for whom finances are tight. However, wait lists can often be very long as the clinics will run generally only one or two semesters a year and are limited in the number of students they can see. Also, if your child is shy or slow to warm up, you may want to consider other options, as in a training clinic they are likely to work with several different student-clinicians.
No matter what kind of specialist you choose, the most important factor is to research his/her expertise in the areas of importance to your child’s learning and/or behavior struggles. Talk to former patients if you can, to get a sense of how helpful the specialist was. See how he or she interacts with your child. Find out if they are willing and experience in attending school meetings and advocate on behalf of your child.
Educational Solutions CNY is a coalition of educational professionals that was formed to fill the void of practicing child and school psychologists in Upstate / Central New York. The group offers Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs) and other essential educational services for parents and school districts for the areas surrounding Syracuse New York. If you would like more information on testing and evaluations in NY, please download our free guide below or visit our website at www.educationalsolutionscny.com
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