Private assessment for learning disability

We have reached out to the Special Education Department at BUSD to request our 2nd grader get assessed for special ed services—and wanted to thank everyone at BPN who encouraged us to pursue this. It was a big step for our family. 

Naturally, the District isn’t doing assessments (!) and hasn’t been since March 12, 2020.

We are feeling the need to do something because our kid is not doing well with distance learning and the school is providing no additional supports to help our kid access instruction. We want to explore having our child assessed privately and are wondering if any BPNers can share any referrals in the Berkeley/Oakland area.

Thank you in advance.

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Dr Marianna Eraklis, a developmental pediatrician, assessed our child several years ago and has managed the case since.  Very skilled and warm, and insurance even paid for part of it!

Hi, this community organization is made up of families in Alameda County who have similar experiences I think. I have heard they are a great resource for families. Someone or families there might have a good sense where to look.

I can't recommend Alan Siegel highly enough -- he gave us an enormous amount of detailed information about our child, and he did it in the gentlest and most encouraging way possible.  We saw him when my child was seven, and again at 14, and at both stages he helped us think through how to prioritize addressing the multiple issues, and gave me very specific advice about how best to support and advocate for my child.  My child is now twenty, and thriving at a very challenging college.  There is no way this would have happened without the guidance Alan gave us.  His website is  

Hi there, 

The BUSD just sent out communication regarding assessments, among other things. See his email from 9/8.  However, it seems like it will be a while before assessments are put in place and I know there a number of families with assessment plans overdue who will likely be served first.  

We had an Independent Ed Evalution (IEE) in 2019 by Dr. Maya Guendleman and I recommend her strongly.  She is extremely thorough, a fierce advocate for the child, very caring and professional.  


We are in OUSD and have been told the same thing about assessments (which is a little confusing to me since by law they are required to provide an assessment if you request one). We already have an IEP for our child so are in a slightly different situation. If you have insurance you might want to check if Stanford or UCSF are in-network for your plan. Both of these can provide a comprehensive assessment at a greatly reduced cost if you have coverage. Stanford does assessments and recommendations only, UCSF does assessments and can provide services. If money isn't a concern we have friends who have worked with Dr Eraklis in Orinda and really loved her. Keep in mind all of these will probably have some sort of waitlist and I'm not sure what assessments look like with covid precautions in place.

You might also want to contact DREDF and see if they have any tips for how to handle the schools at present since really, every child has the right to an assessment by law.

Good luck!

I know you don’t want to hear this, but I would wait. Doing testing is about finding out what is going on with your kid. Getting the information needs to be as close to standardized conditions as possible in order to have confidence in the test results. Telehealth is the safest route.  Unfortunately, there is zero validation for doing testing via Zoom. You would be paying thousands of dollars for a form of testing that has never been validated. And done stuff simply does not translate to the virtual world.

There might be someone willing to do in -person testing, but it would be a weird experience. It’s a face to face experience, By necessity less than 6 feet apart and sharing testing materials, so both kid and examiner would have to wear gloves, masks and face shields for 6-12 hours spread over a few sessions.

iIt would be hot, awkward and physically uncomfortable, which would have an impact on BB test results.

 Better to delay and get good data than do it now and get skewed  results and have to forever wonder if the results are valid.  Best of luck!

You can ask your school to contract out and pay for a private specialist who is willing to do in person assessment.  There are many neuropsychologists and psychologists doing in person but covid safe assessments.  If you put in a request for assessment, schools are still bound by the legal timeline to finish the assessment and have an IEP meeting within 60 days.  This NPR segment on the pandemic and special education is very informative: