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Buyer beware: Evaluating products and services for your child

Buyer beware! Learn how to determine if a product or service is reliable -- and whether it's right for your child.

GreatSchools Blog

By Marshall Raskind, Ph.D.

As public awareness and understanding of learning and attention problems have increased in recent years, so have the number of therapies, treatments, programs, and products aimed at alleviating these difficulties. Unfortunately, not all of these interventions are effective, and in some cases they provide little or no benefit to children struggling with learning and/or attention problems. Regardless, many are widely marketed to the public before there is any scientific evidence about their effectiveness.

What to watch for

  • Terms like "research-based" and "scientifically proven" might be used to describe a service or product, when there's no science to back up the claim. Such products can be a waste of your precious time and money and may even hurt your child's learning and self-esteem.
  • Testimonials from customers who claim satisfaction with a particular product or service are not enough to tell you if a product is effective.
  • Interventions that are scientifically based may prove effective for one child, but be of little value to another. Each child has his own strengths, weakness, interests, and experiences that must be taken into consideration when choosing an intervention.

With all this in mind, we strongly encourage you to be an informed consumer when selecting services and products for your child. Remember, there are no "magic bullets", cures, or quick fixes for learning and attention difficulties. You'll do well to approach potential interventions for your child with a critical, skeptical, and cautious eye. Keep in mind that old saying, "Buyer beware!"

To learn more about making informed decisions about services and products for your child, we recommend that you read:

Marshall H. Raskind, Ph.D., is a learning disability researcher. He is a frequent presenter at international LD conferences and is the author of numerous professional publications on learning disabilities. He is well-known for his research on assistive technology and longitudinal studies tracing LD across the life span.

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