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Specialists in the field of learning and attention problems

If your child has a learning disability, you'll want to become familiar with the various types of professionals who may be involved in your child's education and an explanation of the services they provide.

By Jan Baumel, M.S.

Being a parent isn't easy. Parenting a child with learning and/or attention problems is even more challenging because you may be involved with a variety of professionals during your child's education. Here's a brief list of some of them and an explanation of the services they provide.

Attorney: provides legal assistance to parents about issues pertaining to federal and state special education laws and regulations.

Advocate: represents parents in legal issues related to special education but may not have legal training.

Audiologist: assesses for degree of hearing loss and advises on devices for hearing amplification.

Child psychiatrist: specializes in the assessment and treatment of behavior and emotional aspects of infants, children, and adolescents; medical doctor who can prescribe medication.

Clinical psychologist: provides non-medical diagnosis and therapeutic treatment of emotional and behavioral problems for individuals or groups.

Developmental behavioral pediatrician: focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of developmental disorders in children; medical doctor who can prescribe medication.

Educational psychologist: administers psychological and educational assessments, prepares written report that interprets test results and behavior, and consults regarding education and behavior.

Educational therapist: assesses educational needs; develops and carries out programs for school-related behavior and learning problems, especially LD. Usually a private practitioner.

Jan Baumel, M.S., Licensed Educational Psychologist, spent 35 years in education as a teacher, school psychologist, and special education administrator before joining Schwab Learning. Today she is a consultant to local school districts and university field supervisor for student teachers.

Comments from readers

"I have a bias because I am a licensed psychologist; however, I feel this article does not accurately represent the role of psychologists. Psychologists can administer tests of intelligence, academic achievement, attention, memory and emotional functioning. They can give a diagnosis of a learning disability and ADHD if appropriate. They frequently attend school meetings as advocates and can testify as expert witnesses at due process hearings. Psychologists also provide psychotherapy for children, couples and families. Psychologists vary widely in their area of expertise, but they are central to meeting the educational and emotional needs of children with special needs. Brendan Pratt, Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist, PSY17794 Pediatric Neuropsychologist Los Altos, California"
"Want some additional information, answers to questions, or support? Please consider joining and posting them at the 'Learning and Attention Difficulties' group found here at GS to receive to receive practical suggestions from parents who have faced similar challenges:"