The Path to Special Education Testing and Services

by | Sep 25, 2023 | Special Education Testing

The Path to Special Education Testing and Services

As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. So when you notice your son or daughter struggling or falling behind in some area, it’s important to speak up and take action. One option to explore is having your child tested for special education services through the public school system. But where do you start, and what’s the process?

I’ve worked in special education for over 20 years supporting children, families, advocates, teachers, and administrators. Based on my experience, here’s an overview of how to go about requesting testing and getting the support your child needs.

Who is a Candidate for Testing?

Special education testing can begin as early as age 2 1⁄2 and continues through age 22 in public schools. Some signs your child may benefit include:

  • Emotional difficulties or extreme reactions that seem outside the norm
  • Delayed development of functional skills like feeding, dressing, or motor skills
  • Medical conditions requiring substantial support or intervention
  • Limited communication/language compared to peers
  • Academic struggles compared to grade level
  • Trouble socializing or playing appropriately with other children

Trust your instincts – you know when something seems “off” with your son or daughter. Don’t write it off as a phase. Act promptly, just as you would if they had a concerning medical symptom.

How to Request Testing

The process starts with putting your request for testing in writing to the school district’s special education director. Include your child’s name, age, suspected areas of disability, and request comprehensive testing.

Under the federal Child Find mandate, the district must respond within 15 days granting or denying testing. Once approved, a multi-disciplinary team will evaluate your child in all suspected areas of need.

Key Areas for Testing

To get an accurate picture of your child’s challenges and needs, request testing in these key domains:

  • Speech/language, including social communications
  • Medical/physical
  • Psychological/behavioral
  • Cognitive (IQ)
  • Academic achievement
  • Motor skills
  • Adaptive behaviors
  • Possible related services like counseling or occupational therapy

What Happens After Testing?

In a follow-up meeting, the school will share results. There are three potential outcomes:

1. Your child doesn’t qualify for services

2. Your child qualifies for a 504 Plan with accommodations

3. Your child qualifies for an IEP and special education services

If your child is eligible, you’ll work with the team to develop an appropriate education plan tailored to their needs. Services should start as soon as possible to prevent further struggles.

Take Action Today

As a parent, don’t downplay your concerns or wait. If your parental instincts tell you something isn’t right with your child’s development, pursue special education testing immediately. Early intervention can make a huge difference in helping your son or daughter thrive. Reach out to your school district today to get the ball rolling. The support your child needs is available – you just have to ask.

To learn more about navigating the special education process, visit our training page on our website or contact us at for guidance. We’re here to help you advocate for your child every step of the way.


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