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(2.12) Is a doctor the only professional who can provide an ADD/ADHD diagnosis as part of the special education assessment process?

(2.12) Is a doctor the only professional who can provide an ADD/ADHD diagnosis as part of the special education assessment process?

No, unless the school district believes that a medical doctor is required to make the diagnosis. In that case, the district must ensure that a doctor performs the evaluation at no cost to the parent. A U.S. Department of Education letter makes it clear that:

  • If a public agency (school district) believes that a medical evaluation by a licensed physician is needed as part of the evaluation to determine whether a child…suspected of having  ADD meets the eligibility criteria of the Other Health Impaired category, the school district must ensure that this evaluation is conducted and is at no cost to parents.

    [OSEP Letter, February 18, 1992, 18 IDELR 963.]

If the school district believes that a health care professional other than a doctor can provide the evaluation, then the district may use another provider, as long as all of the protections of the evaluation requirements in federal and state law are met. The school or other staff selected to conduct an ADD/ADHD evaluation must be trained to do so. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.304(c)(1)(iv); Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56320(b)(3).]

Parents do not have to rely solely on the school district’s evaluation for an ADD or ADHD diagnosis. Parents may provide an independent diagnosis of ADD or ADHD to the school district from a pediatrician, psychologist or other mental health professional. The school district must consider the independent evaluation of your child in the IEP process.