Learning Disability Assessment for College

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Learning Disability testing for College - UCB?

August 2011

We are considering UC Berkeley Psychology Clinic for a learning assessment for our high school senior. The assessment is needed in order to qualify for disability services at college. The testing is conducted by graduate students under the supervision of UC faculty. I am wondering if we will get as comprehensive a report and recommendations as we would, if we chose a licensed psychologist experienced in the field. There is a significant cost savings if we choose UC. Thanks anonymous

A few years ago, I worked with the UC Berkeley Psychology Dept. for my daughter. She had a graduate student who was supervised by the best in the field (cognitive behavioral therapy for panic disorder in our case), a top guy in Berkeley. We never met or heard about him, but the counselors she had - 2 over the course of 3 semesters - were excellent. They were clear in their diagnoses, flexible and allowing choice in ideas for further treatment, and totally positive and forward looking about my daughter's future. And they were supportive of her place in her family, her relationship with me and respectful of me in their general attitude while allowing the experience to be her own confidential thing, she was 16-17. This was important because bonding with a girl that age over her natural developmentally appropriate rejection of her mother would be an easy cheap trick and they didn't do it. (Not all that can be said for a supposedly experienced therapist she saw later.) Their age actually made them more approachable for her. What she learned there was the foundation for further self examination. That was our experience. anon

My daughter was evaluated by the UC Berkeley clinic in 2006 when she was in high school. The report was extremely helpful to us as parents and to the staff of the high school as well. I am a professional in the field of LD, have seen many reports and appreciated how the UC report not only gave results but also gave the observations of the process as my daughter was assessed. ed. therapist

We had our son evaluated by a grad student at the UCB clinic and got a thorough evaluation and helpful report. We needed it for services in high school and we'll use it now for college support. The grad students are supervised and a licensed psychologist signs the report as well. I've seen other reports via my work and they are all solid. Kathy

ADD/LD testing for college accommodations

April 2009

My daughter presently has a 504 plan due to ADD and dyslexia at her public HS. UC Irvine is requesting a whole new battery of testing by a psychologist or neurologist. Has anyone used private insurance for testing? I'm hoping if I find a neurologist my insurance will cover most of it. Right now the well known psychologists are going for $4200 to $6000 for the testing battery. Anyone been there done that? Advice? I'm thinking of going with Dr.Grandison if I choose a psychologist. Thanks! anon

Try the UC Berkeley School of Psychology Clinic or the Ann Martin Center in Oakland (www.annmartin.org) both provide the sort of testing you are looking for and are much less expensive than the price you mentioned.

My daughter was tested at the Ann Martin Center and I know someone who used the UC Berkeley Clinic. Both are in high demand and may not be able to accommodate you right away but are very competent and well worth the savings. Been There

I also have a high schooler with a 504 plan due to health issues and ADD. I'd love to hear more from the parent whose child received a request from UC Irvine for additional testing. Could you please elaborate on what kind of accommodations college students would be eligible for? Also, how did UC know about your child's circumstances? Is this something you are required to reveal in the application process? Does it help/hurt in terms of admissions?

I had been told that assessments are valid for three years. Therefore if your child is a sophomore, you would need to have a fresh assessment to see you through the rest of high school and to be eligible for accommodations on the standardized tests. What I don't know is what happens once the child starts college. Do you need to get yet another assessment to have on file with the college? If so, who do you meet with and get help from? Anyone with experience on this care to weigh in?

I have heard college admissions folks from Stanford, UC Davis, and St. Mary's all say that they really want to know when students who are applying have learning issues, but then they also all went on to say that admission to their respective institutions was based on high test scores, high gpa, etc. The impression they left with me was that, yes, they want to know, but no, such students don't receive any special consideration. If anything, such students are expected to do just as well as their peers despite having additional challenges to overcome. I'd love for parents of college-aged students who have learning issues to share with us what their experiences with these issues have been. What advice can you share with the rest of us? anonymous

I have had a lot of experience with both the testing process and the local testers. I've never been able to get insurance to pay for it although some companies will depending on your child's diagnosis. I strongly recommend Dr. Jack Davis (510)693-8439 whose office is in Lafayette. He is simply the best and most thorough I've met and he is more reasonable than most. I'd be glad to talk about specific testers if you e-mail me drj

Hopefully, the psychologist has recommended an Individual Education Plan (IEP) because your son appears to have a disability interfering with his education. You have the legal right to request it if not. As soon as you notify the school of a suspected disability, a series of legal protections kicks in for your kid, including required psychoeducational testing at the school's expense. Because this focuses only on education, I recommended more comprehensive psychological testing in addition. We did this with my daughter after she was hospitalized for suicidal thoughts. The terrific psychologist who did hers is Dr. Richard Pollack at Herrick Hospital in Berkeley. We paid only $1400, part of which was reimbursed by our private health insurance (he submitted a claim for us). It was worth every penny. He really got to know her and his insights, diagnoses and recommendations were tremendously helpful. You can reach him by calling his Walnut Creek office (925-945-1355) or Herrick Hospital's Adolescent Psych unit and asking how to reach him. Another option is the public UC Psychology Clinic in Berkeley (510-642-2055), which offers detailed psychological testing for only $20! Nancy

Our son was tested by a pediatric neuropsychologist, Dr. Alex Peterson, last year when he was 13. The testing revealed a diagnosis of ADHD. The cost was around $4000 and much to my surprise and delight, our insurance (Anthem Blue Cross) covered most of it. It sounds like your child will be tested a 2nd time and the purpose of the testing is not medical management, so the coverage in your situation may be different. Dr. Peterson was recommended by our pediatrician and I recommend him without hesitation--he is pleasant, appropriate, knowledgable, and has gone out of his way to help with our school and teachers--in a word, fantastic. His office is in the Montclair area and his # is 510-531-0500. Good Luck

Re-testing is required for accommodations in college because the original tests are usually normed for youngsters, and colleges require testing results that are normed for adults.

My son had a double diagnosis of a learning disability and ADHD. As it turned out, accommodations based on the ADHD required only documentation from the psychiatrist. Accommodations based on the learning disability would have required re-testing. (There is an explanation for the difference -- I wish I could remember it...)

All my son needs is extra time on tests, so the simple way worked out perfectly for us. If he had needed more complex accomodations, there would have been no way out of the re-testing. (For example: a person to take notes for him, or recorded textbooks, or other things I'm not really familiar with.)

One last thing -- especially if re-testing turns out to be necessary. Reading the other posts, and the amounts that people have paid for testing leaves me a bit breathless. We went to the UC Berkeley Psychology Clinic and, for almost nothing, received the most careful, caring, and comprehensive testing imaginable. It is definitely an option to explore. anonymous