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3 Tips for Evaluating Low Incidence Disabilities

by | Apr 18, 2023 | Eligibility | 0 comments

Low-incidence disabilities typically refer to students who are deaf and hard of hearing, have visual impairments and orthopedic impairments. When assessing low-incidence disabilities, the process can often differ from what school psychologists are used to. Let’s discuss three tips to help you feel prepared to complete a thorough evaluation! If you are interested in watching a replay of the live recording where I discuss these tips, please click here

Tip #1: Talk With Your Specialists First

Depending on the child’s disability, consulting with the appropriate specialist(s) before you begin your evaluation can help you understand the whole child and what information you need to consider throughout the assessment process. Here are some questions to consider asking your DHH, VI, or OI specialist:

  • What is an appropriate evaluation tool for this student?
  • Are my “go-to” assessment batteries valid and fair for this student?
  • Is it appropriate to use a standardized or should I use a non-standardized assessment?
  • Are there accommodations I need to make during the assessment process?

Tip #2: Focus on Educational Impact 

With low-incidence disabilities, an outside specialist or the district specialist involved typically documents the disability. For instance, an audiologist probably already diagnosed the student as deaf and provided you with that documentation. Therefore, the school psychologist and other team members can focus much of their attention on the educational impact of the disability and whether the student requires special education and related services. Remember to keep the student’s age, grade level, and developmental level in mind when focusing on educational impact. 

Tip #3: Are All Areas of Need Addressed?

Several evaluators are often involved in the assessment process. You may receive audiologist or vision specialist reports to add to your final multidisciplinary report. As you compile the data you receive, it’s essential to address each area of need identified by the different assessment team members, whether the student is eligible for special education or not. The student’s needs may be more appropriately addressed through a 504 plan or another avenue of more informal support. Reading through the provided information to ensure nothing is overlooked is essential to prepare for the upcoming IEP meeting.

The Prepared School Psychologist community focuses on helping support school psychologists in their work with children, teachers, families, and colleagues. We have new resources for low-incidence disabilities, including RIOT documents for visual impairments, orthopedic impairments, and deaf and hard of hearing. We added a new video as well, which documents a panel discussion about low-incidence disabilities that you could access to help you feel more prepared to complete a thorough evaluation.  

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