FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Does Dr. Limones offer any complimentary consultation?
Yes, you can contact Dr. Limones to schedule a 30-minute phone consultation at no cost. This consultation can serve to clarify what the referral question and needs are and what services might be most appropriate.
2. How do I know if my child should get assessed?
There are many reasons for seeking out an assessment, whether for informational purposes or to address a specific referral question. For example:
(a) Some parents simply want an overview of their child's cognitive abilities for informational purposes or to find out if their child is gifted, so in those cases an IQ test would be most appropriate.
(b) Other parents want a more detailed profile of their child's learning strengths and weaknesses as well as tailored recommendations for academic success, so for those situations a psychoeducational assessment is recommended. This information is helpful for both parents and teachers to know, and as children get older and take more ownership of their own learning and study habits in middle school and beyond they also benefit from understanding their own learning style and identifying what strategies will work best for them.
(c) Parents sometimes seek out assessments when they have noticed their child has academic, social-emotional, and/or behavioral difficulties that have persisted despite supports such as tutoring, classroom modifications, and extra practice. A psychoeducational assessment can identify why a child is having these difficulties. If the results indicate that the reason for these difficulties is a particular disorder or disability, then providing a diagnosis can give the family some common language for understanding the difficulties and identifying strategies that are most likely to be successful given the diagnosis.
3. At what age should my child be assessed?
Children's cognitive skills develop and change at a rapid pace during the first few years of their life. However, by approximately age 7 their cognitive processing skills are developed enough that testing can yield accurate results that are likely to remain consistent in subsequent years. It is usually recommended for a child to have had at least one full year of school (e.g., kindergarten) before being assessed for a disability in order to give them time to adjust to an academic setting, structure, and expectations, particularly if they did not attend a preschool focused on pre-academic skills.
However, if you think your child is at risk for a particular disorder (e.g., there is a family history of disabilities, there are concerns regarding learning or behavior during early childhood), testing them at a younger age is recommended. Early diagnosis or identification of processing deficits can allow for early intervention supports to be put in place. In turn, early intervention can maximize the effectiveness of these supports, teach skills, and remediate deficits at a younger age before your child falls too far behind. In addition, certain disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorders can be assessed for regardless of academic exposure and benefit from early identification to maximize the opportunity to receive interventions at an early age.
In addition, if your child has been assessed in the past but is geting ready to take exams such as AP exams, the ACT, or SAT and may require testing accommodations, an updated assessment is recommended. Agencies such as the College Board require specific documentation regarding the diagnosis according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition and a specific rationale for the testing accommodations requested, so an updated psychoeducational assessment would provide this documentation needed to request accommodations.
4. Why should my child have a private assessment when school districts offer psychoeducational assessments at no cost?
It is true that school districts offer assessments at no charge when there is a suspected disability that is impacting a student's educational progress. However, although these assessments provide useful information, they have several limitations that a private psychoeducational assessment can address. These include:
(a) School district assessments cannot diagnose any disabilities. They can only determine eligibility criteria for any of the 13 disability categories per California's Education Code. These disability categories are educational labels and vary from state to state. For example, there is no educational category for ADHD. In contrast, a private assessment can provide an actual diagnosis according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) that is recognized by the medical and mental health community on both a national and international level as well as testing agencies such as the College Board. This provides documentation of the child's needs and can be used to request additional supports and accommodations in the school setting as well as in situations such as AP, SAT, and ACT testing.
(b) School districts only offer assessments when they suspect a student has a disability that might require special education services. The focus of their assessments is determining a student's need for special education. In contrast, a private assessment can be conducted at any time and focuses on identifying a student's strengths and weaknesses. It provides a more thorough and wholistic perspective on the child and provides practical strategies for classroom and home settings, rather than simply stating whether or not a student requires special education services. Diagnosis of a disability can be part of a private assessment, but the emphasis is in understanding a child's profile and identifying strategies to maximize their academic and social-emotional success.
(c) School districts have a 15-day timeline to respond to a parent's assessment request, and if they offer an assessment they then have a 60-day timeline for completing of an assessment once they receive signed consent from parents. They can also deny a parent's request for assessment if there is no indication that a child might have a disability or might require special education services. In addition, districts do not typically offer assessments during breaks or summer vacation. Dr. Limones offers assessments year-round and these assessments can take as little as 4 weeks from beginning to end, resulting in a faster turnaround and giving parents a more immediate determination of strategies and recommendations.
(d) School district assessments are often not comprehensive and only assess the areas of need per the policy of the individual district. For example, many school districts do not directly assess all areas of processing areas and often omit important areas such as long-term memory, processing speed, and executive function. Dr. Limones offers private assessments based on CHC theory of intelligence and uses a cross-battery approach to assess in all the core cognitive and academic abilities established by research to play an important role in academic functioning. In addition, a private assessment can provide sufficient information to rule in or out various diagnoses.
5. What does an assessment entail?
The specifics of an assessment will depend on what type of assessment is requested. However, all assessments include an intake interview, testing sessions, a debriefing session, and a written report. Please select the corresponding link on the Services page for details on what is included in each type of assessment.
6. How long will it take to complete an assessment?
Each assessment takes approximately 4 weeks to complete, depending on a family's availability for scheduling. This timeframe includes approximately 6-8 hours of direct testing, 1-3 hours of school observations, parent and teacher interviews, and a debriefing meeting.
7. How should I prepare my child for testing?
Dr. Limones often tells children that she is a "learning doctor" or "learning detective" and that through doing activities with them she can find out how to best help them at school. Children usually enjoy most of the activities during testing because they are very different from activities that they might do at school. Some activities do involve reading, writing, and math, but there are no grades involved as in a school setting. The most important thing is for a child to be prepared to do their best on every activity. They can take breaks during a testing session when needed and are encouraged to bring snacks for breaks. In addition, Dr. Limones will often ask them what they thought about a particular activity, which activity was their favorite, and which ones they disliked, and children usually enjoy having a chance to share their perspective and opinion.
8. Does Dr. Limones offer therapy or counseling services?
No, Dr. Limones does not offer therapy or counseling services. However, consultation services are offered to parents and can be scheduled to discuss strategies for supporting their child.
9. Does Dr. Limones attend IEP meetings?
Yes, Dr. Limones can attend IEP meetings for various reasons (e.g., sharing the assessment results with the school team, advocating for the needs of the child, or discussing the appropriateness of goasl and services). In addition, attendance at IEPs is included when Dr. Limones conducts an Independent Educational Evaluation.
10. Can a private assessment be used to request an IEP or 504 plan at a public school district?
Absolutely. A private assessment showing that your child has a particular diagnosis can provide evidence of a disability, and upon receiving this information the school district is required by law to consider the results and provide appropriate supports for your child. Dr. Limones conducts assessments that are thorough and evaluate all core cognitive and academic areas both according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and current scientific research. These assessments can provide information that school districts typically overlook and can serve as the foundation for requesting supports through a 504 plan or an IEP.
11. How do I know if I need an advocate for a 504 or IEP meeting?
The role of an advocate is to ensure that your rights as a parent are upheld and that you are included as an active participant in planning your child's education. It is helpful to have an advocate who knows special education law and procedures in order to help you ask the right questions and ensure that your child receives all the necessary and appropriate supports. Dr. Limones can provide consultation prior to a 504 or IEP meeting and help you prepare to know what to expect and what questions to ask. She can attend those meetings as an advocate and ensure that there are no procedural violations that prevent your child from getting the services they need.
In addition, an advocate who is knowledgeable about special education assessment and eligibility procedures can help you examine school-based evaluations and determine whether it is adequate, particularly if you disagree with the results or if your child is found not eligible for special education services. Dr. Limones can consult with you by reviewing the assessment and determining what your options are for contesting the results or requesting a second opinion such as one via an Independent Educational Evaluation at public expense.
12. Does Dr. Limones take insurance?
Dr. Limones does not take insurance, given that psychoeducational evaluations are not typically considered medically necessary and insurance companies often do not cover these assessments. However, Dr. Limones can provide an itemized bill with appropriate billing codes for families that want to seek reimbursement through their insurance provider.
13. What are the rates for services?
Consultation services are charged hourly at $150/hour. Psychoeducational assessments are charged at a flat rate and vary depending on the specific referral concerns and breadth of the assessment. Please contact Dr. Limones directly for rates for assessments and trainings.