Understanding The Report

"No thank you. Don't bother to send me the report about the testing results. I won't understand it anyway. I'll just listen at the meeting."

Those were the words of more than one parent I spoke with whose children had been tested to see if they needed special education services. I could always hear the discouragement in their voices as they spoke.

I heard the same tone of voice in a person a little closer to home just recently. A relative of mine has a son who has just been evaluated, and the parents had been given a copy of the report. He and his wife both have college educations, and they still had difficulty understanding what was being said. He looked totally helpless as he showed me the paperwork.

It's important to realize that every occupation in life has it's own terms, and special education is no different. Unless you work in that occupation on a daily basis, you can't be expected to know what those terms mean - not much consolation when it's your child's education and success that are at stake.

The good news is that there is help out there.

Here are some suggestions for how you can become an informed, active participant in the meeting:

1) Contact the special education office in your school district. Either someone there can explain it to you, or they can tell you who to talk with to help you understand the report.

2) Set up an appointment to speak with the special education person in your child's school.

If you can't get the information you want through the special education office for some reason, call and decide on a mutually convenient time when you can meet with the special education teacher and discuss the results. Perhaps you can even discuss what the recommendations might be regarding the best placement and the best program for your child.

This way, when you go into the meeting, you will be more prepared.

3) Take notes as you discuss the report. If you take notes from the discussion, then you will have ready information to take into the meeting, and you won't be bogged down having to find the information in the report.

4) If you still have trouble understanding, you can contact your state Learning Disabilities Association. They will have answers for you and they may be able to suggest someone to go to the meeting with you to help you understand what is going on.

5) Know that it's okay to take someone into the meeting with you for support. Facing a group of professionals can be scary, whether you have a college degree or not. Having support with you can be very comforting, and if that support is someone who understands the process better than you, that's a bonus!

Remember, you are NOT alone in this process. You have a team of people who are there to help your child be successful. And working together as a team is the best way to make that happen. But, you have to play an active role in that team in order for your child to get the best services possible, and that may mean searching out people who can help you understand and take charge.

For more plain talk about learning disabilities, please visit us at www.ldperspectives.com.

About the Author
Sandy Gauvin is a retired educator who has seen learning disabilities from many perspectives - as the parent of a daughter with learning disabilities, as the teacher of children with learning disabilities, and as an advocate for others who have diagnosed and unrecognized learning disabilities. Sandy shares her wisdom and her resources at www.LDPerspectives.com.

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