Assessing Adults with Learning Disabilities
Deborah Young, Ed.D.
Thinking about adults with learning disabilities (LD) first took shape in the 1980s. At the federal level, transition initiatives from school-to-work were set in motion. People outside of education realized that LD was not limited to the classroom.
Over time, evidence has become clear. Learning disabilities does not end as one exits the schoolyard—after either dropping out or following high school graduation. Adults with LD, however, are more than grown children with just the language-based difficulties described in the LD definition.
In fact, with sometimes-dramatic changes in living situations and the onslaught of family and work-related responsibilities, learning disabilities may actually become exacerbated upon entry into adulthood.
Adults with LD need a range of strategies, techniques, and support structures to manage their disabilities at home, work, school, and in community situations. In many public situations (e.g., work and school), accommodations may only be made based on current documentation from licensed psychologists that contain specified actions.
Assessment may be the appropriate starting point for managing LD. Not all adults with LD were diagnosed as children. And, children who were diagnosed may need to be reassessed in adulthood. Unlike children, adults bear the cost of their diagnoses. A quality assessment will cost more than $750. If an adult qualifies for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services, then VR may pay for the assessment. (See https://jobs.utah.gov/usor/vr/index.html to understand the services and determine eligibility.)