One of the scarier aspects about homeschooling is that you are responsible for all aspects of your child's education. You get to decide what is necessary to learn and it is up to you to figure out how your child learns best. And for some, this means deciding when an "expert" is needed.
One of the issues that I have seen many homeschoolers wrestle with (and have wrestled with myself) is when and if you should have your child evaluated. How do you know if the problem that your child is having is a "real issue" or if it is just that he follows a different, normal-for-him development timetable? I know that I worried about having my child "labeled", yet I also worried about "missing" something important.
The first thing to realize is that there is no "right" or "wrong" decision and every family and every child is different. I also feel that there is a big difference between a label sought by a school system and a label sought by a homeschool parent. In school, a label is required in order for the child to get the accommodations that he needs. It is also used as an "explanation" as to why the child does not fit into the school model. At home, a label is not as necessary because you do not need to justify to anyone that a different approach is needed. However, having a label can in some cases help the parent find resources and information that can help the child.
I fully believe that when making this decision, you need to follow your "gut". And that means really sitting down and analyzing your motivations for wanting an evaluation. If you are doing it because you think that you "should" then I would wait. If you really feel like you might get more info that would help your child, then you should do it.
My feeling is that experts should be sought, not out of fear of what is or could be wrong, but out of a desire to seek additional information/resources that can help your child. I also feel that if the child is being adversely impacted by his issues, this is also where expert help can be beneficial. But if your child seems to be doing fine (for him), and you are able to adjust the environment to meet his needs, then I do not think that an "official" diagnosis is necessary.
When my oldest son, Jason, was younger, I knew that some things were just different for him. At one point I thought that he might have ADHD (very active, changes gears extremely quickly, impulsive). I read and read about it and as I read more, my gut told me that this was not it. I also looked into Aspergers at one point based on some things that I read on a homeschool email list. It became very obvious quickly that Aspergers did not fit either. Then someone on an email list mentioned The Out of Sync Child and parts of that fit like a T. So then I had a name...sensory integration disorder. After learning more about it, I felt like I could implement a lot of what was recommended at home and did not see the need at the time for occupational therapy. As I continued researching, I also learned about food sensitivities and removing certain things from his diet helped with his impulsiveness. We then moved on to homeopathy and acupuncture to help with his sensitivities and heavy metal issues. I also found out about right brained learning style and found that this was by far the most "perfect fit" label.
When Jason was 8, I did decide to try OT for a year (and he was officially diagnosed with sensory integration disorder). I was hoping for some help with the fact that he eats such a limited diet (due to issues with texture and an extremely sensitive sense of smell) and thought that the therapist might have some additional suggestions for me. Jason loved it. I did learn a few things. Overall it was a positive experience, but nothing earth shattering (and it was no help with the eating).
My feeling is that as a parent, it is possible, with all the information out there, to become familiar enough with the different diagnosis to have a gut feel if it fits your child. And to know if you need additional help. Trust yourself.
Deciding to have your child evaluated really is a personal decision with no "right" or "wrong" answer. Follow your gut. Trust your instincts. You'll know when the time is right to seek additional help. Or you will become completely comfortable with knowing that you don't need that help. Labels in and of themselves are not good or bad. It is how these labels are used. Labels can be used to define and limit a child or they can be used to help set the child free. And as homeschoolers, we get to decide how the label is used.
Stephanie is constantly trying to find that elusive state of balance in her life while enjoying her two energetic yet vastly different boys. You can read about their ongoing exploits on her blog, Throwing Marshmallows.