Is A Diagnosis Necessary For A Specific Learning Disability Classification?

August 23, 2016

An April 2016 Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) letter discussed whether a school district could identify a child as having dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia under the category of Specific Learning Disability (SLD).  The question posed was whether an IEP team could identify a child as having one of these diagnoses in order to meet the eligibility requirements under SLD.

 

When determining IDEA eligibility, the District must conduct a comprehensive evaluation using a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the child.  Therefore, information related to the child's learning difficulties, including those with math, reading, and writing is important to help determine the nature and extent of the child's disability and educational needs.

 

However, parents shouldn't get too fixated on "labels" or "diagnoses."  It is enough to classify a child as having a learning disability once you identify that there are learning difficulties (assuming they rise to a threshold level); a specific diagnosis is not necessary.  OSERS said so much when they reiterated their position that the IDEA does not require a disability label or diagnosis be given to each student who receives special education and related services.  

 

There is no requirement that public agencies must assess specific areas that parents suggest. However, if through an evaluation the District determines that an assessment for dyslexia or another specific learning disability is necessary to determine whether a child has a disability and how to address her educational needs, then the District must conduct the necessary testing, at no cost to the parents. 

 

Parents disagreeing with the District's evaluation have a right to seek an independent educational evaluation (IEE) at public expense.  If requested, the District must, "without unnecessary delay," either ensure that the IEE is provided at public expense or file a due process complaint in order to obtain a decision that their evaluation was appropriate.

 

If you have specific questions related to your child, feel free to Contact me.  

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