You don't need a formal ADHD or LD diagnosis to apply for an evaluation for school services, but it is always better to have one in hand. Many experts believe that you have a better chance of getting accommodations after getting your child diagnosed by a professional.
If you suspect your child has ADHD or LD, see a doctor for a formal evaluation before you apply for accommodations. The school can provide accommodations, but it can’t provide treatment, which may help your child focus and do better in the classroom.
Because it takes up to 60 days for the school to determine if your child is eligible for accommodations, you don’t want him or her to continue to fail during this time. As you pursue a diagnosis, keep talking with the teacher to find ways to help your child.
What are the steps required to receive a proper ADHD diagnosis?
There's no definitive diagnostic test for ADHD -- no blood analysis, no brain scan, no genetic screen -- so it can be tough to tell whether a child has the disorder. Doctors vary in their abilities to deliver an accurate ADHD diagnosis and treat the disorder, so it’s easy to go down blind alleys before getting the right information. Here are some smart steps to take:
1. If your pediatrician hasn’t diagnosed a lot of cases of ADHD, you should ask parents with ADHD children whom they would recommend, or you can search CHADD or the ~ADDitude~ Directory to find ADHD providers in your area.
2. If you suspect that your child has a learning disability or another comorbid condition, such as anxiety, you might want to consult a medical specialist -- a neuropsychologist or developmental pediatrician. Your pediatrician or health insurer can probably steer you to a qualified specialist.