At this point in my career, I am entertained as I listen and learn from parents about how their novel approaches to helping their child overcome certain challenges might actually, not work. I'm not sure about what it happening in the world of education but somehow, there are quite a bit of people that are so interested in helping children because their lack of knowledge allows them to make a buck.
Here's what I'd like to share with you. It's a breakdown of the "Who's Who" of individuals who may be helpful to you when you begin researching information:
1. Your Child's Teacher
Your child's teacher is the person to talk to in regards to your child's academic performance. Please do not ask his/her teacher to diagnose your child. They don't have those credentials - but they can tell you how long it takes them to find their missing assignment.
2. Your Pediatrician
Your pediatrician, albeit a very knowledgeable individual, is not there to recommend tutoring agencies or will teach you how to "hit a school with a lawsuit". They are professionals who at best, can share with you what milestones are important for your child. At times, they prescribe medicine for children but... more information on that if you really want to know.
3. A *Psychologist (not to be confused with a "Psychiatrist")
This is an individual who has spent countless hours learning how to administer, "tests". Occasionally, they will learn about a "program" that might be helpful to a child or, better yet, a set of programs that are administered by a group of people/agency. Now, to be fair, they have a code of ethics when it comes to recommendations (we actually all do, but not everyone chooses to abide by that) so I'm a little weary when they hand out a list of "who you need to go to" at the end of your child's assessment because they only test your child and tell you what's wrong - they don't fix the problem.
4. A Psychiatrist (Not a Psychologist)
I'm going to give you two words: Sigmund Freud - he's a Psychiatrist. These are Medical Doctors who have the authority to prescribe medication to your child if they have a chemical imbalance in the brain. In the state of Georgia, only Medical Doctors (not Psychologists) can write prescriptions. There are a few states where Psychologists can write prescriptions, but Georgia is not one of them.
5. Speech Therapist
Think of anything that you do with your mouth: communicate, swallow, eat, chew- that's what they specialize in. They know how to help your child socialize and integrate with others and can be very helpful in that respect.
6. Occupational Therapist
"Occupational" = "work". This is a person who will help your child integrate their skills sets into something that will be more productive. They help with many short-term physically demanding tasks such as sitting and standing correctly and sometimes even handwriting. Key Words: Fine Motor Skills
7. Physical Therapist
This is who you'll need to see for more severe conditions. They assist with more of the "gross motor" aspects of your child's development or - if you play tennis 20 hours a week.
8. Educational Consultant
These individuals, such as myself, review different aspects of your child's development and progress and make recommendations as to what the next steps are and, if qualified, execute these programs. They work in sync with other providers to make sure that (or at least I hope they do) progress has been made in a satisfactory fashion.
Why am I providing this to you? Because everybody is good at something but some people should not be good at what they should not be good at. Helping your child is more than removing dairy from their diet or installing a trampoline in the back yard. It's a more complex, multi-faceted approach that comes with a great deal of planning and precision. Don't take it lightly.