Screening Adults for Learning Disabilities

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What is learning disability (LD) screening?

Screening is the first step in the process of gathering relevant information about an individual with a suspected learning disability. Screening does not determine whether or not the person has a learning disability. It may include observations,
informal interviews, the use of a written tool, and/or a review of medical, school, or work histories.

How is LD screening different from LD diagnosis?

An LD diagnosis is a formal assessment that determines the actual presence of a learning disability. LD screening is an informal process that shows whether there is a probability that the person might have an undiagnosed learning disability. Informal screening can be done by an advocate for the person with a suspected learning disability, but formal diagnosis must be done by a qualified professional who can evaluate learning disabilities.

Why should LD screening be done?

Adults who have struggled with school and work may have undiagnosed learning disabilities. Screening is a way for an advocate to better determine the probability of the suspected learning disability, and to help the person decide if he or she needs to continue with an LD diagnosis. Also, LD screening can identify areas of strengths and challenges that will help the person better understand why he or she has struggled in certain areas of life. Knowing one’s strengths can help
determine the best strategies and/or technology to use to succeed in school and work.


Observations may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Does the person show unexpected underachievement in some areas, but demonstrates at least average ability in other areas?
  • Does the person show signs of poor vision or hearing?
  • Does the person having problems in the following areas: reading (oral and silent), expressive language (writing, spelling, handwriting), or math?
  • Does the person exhibit social behaviors that can
    interfere with learning, working, or daily living?

Informal Interviews

Advocates who conduct LD screening may ask the person, in an informal discussion, some questions about their past successes and challenges. The answers may indicate past behaviors, events, or characteristics that are associated with adults who have learning disabilities. Typical questions may include:

  • Did you get special help in school?
  • Do any of your family members have problems learning?
  • Have you had difficulty getting or keeping a job?
  • Do you have problems with reading, writing, or math skills?
  • What do you enjoy most, and why?

Informed Consent and Confidentiality

Informed consent ensures that the person undergoing the screening process understands the purpose of the screening, who will conduct the screening, how the results will be used, and how confidentiality will be maintained. Individual screenings by advocates should include a signed consent which should include the following information:

  • The name of the screening instruments used
  • The interval of time for screening
  • The purpose of screening
  • Who will see the results
  • How the results will be used
  • Where the forms will be stored and for how long
  • The adult’s signature and date
  • The advocate’s signature

Screening Tools

There are a number of screening tools available for advocates to use with the person who may have an undiagnosed learning disability. Some of these tools require special training, while others are available online. Some tools are free; others require training and may have associated training costs.

It is important, however, to choose a screening tool that is designed for the appropriate age group. When conducted and reviewed appropriately, using the right screening tool can be a valuable step in determining the need to seek further advice and evaluation.
Screening tools should also be:

  • Inexpensive
  • Quick to administer, score, and easy to interpret
  • Narrow in purpose
  • Able to provide information in several areas, such as language, motor and social skills

LD Screening Follow-Up

Advocates should be familiar with follow-up resources for those whose screening indicates a strong possibility of a learning disability, especially if the lack of documentation is a barrier to completing educational and career goals. The appropriate next step is to locate a licensed diagnostician to complete a formal LD assessment. For more information about LD assessments, see the information page at Adults Learning Disabilities Assessment Process.


LDA encourages the distribution of this information. Please provide appropriate credit if portions are cited. Information may not be reprinted for the purpose of resale.




  3. angeliquw hiawia says:

    I have trouble at the nursing home doing my job because it takes me along time to learn it. After I got out of high school I thought I would be normal, I di not want no one to know I was in special ed. But now it shows. I am having so much problems it sticks out. I am afraid to ask for help at work.I am afraid to work full time. And now I adopted a child, did not know how to get help of my husband that something bad to child.Now he got custody. I am suppost to pay him everything I get . not have no money for gas to live in my car. Just because I open up my heart and adopted.

  4. Edwige Morin says:

    I was just let go from a job as a security detention officer were I work their for 16 yrs it’s a contract job and now I have to seek employment else where. My real passion is law enforcement but I cannot pass the cjbat and other tests required. I cry to myself at times cause I wish I didn’t have this learning disability problem. Now I’m looking into have an assessment test so I can get an accommodation to work in Florida any advise someone can give me?

  5. I have struggled with my disability for a very long time, I do my best to hid it but at work I am frequently embarrassed by my inability to do what seem so easy for others. At 34 and with the threat of losing a great job I am going to get assessed. I hope taking this step will help improve my quality of life, and allow me to finish my education.

  6. Hi My name is amber and all My life iv always failed in school…always. there was some stuff I was good in like English and language arts, and science somewhat,but iv always failed math…I’m going to school now to try to get My equivalency high school daploma and I just feel I can’t pass it..I feel like My brain just scrambles when I go to take a test I can’t concentate and I don’t get maybe what so ever!!!! I think I really have a learning disabilaty…what should I do??!!

  7. Karen Stewart says:

    My husband is a very hard worker. He has been diagnosed with Dyslexia since he was a child. He is applying for a job with a company that welcomes individuals with disabilities. The position requires documentation of his disability. We submitted the only paper we had which was from 1981. He never completed a full year at any school. They need more updated paperwork. We don’t have insurance and are extremely low income. All 4 of our children have been classified as well. I have called at least 20 different doctors and the price range for testing adults is $800-$3,000. Do you have any other suggestions or clinicals that would test him? Thank you, Karen

  8. Laura Chapman says:

    I was tested in 5th grade I believe and I was told I had 3 learning disabilities. I was put in regulars classes and separated out from my class when taking exams. Because I was so young then, I don’t remember what the doctor explained to me about which disabilities I have. I’ve since called the school for records and checked with my mom, but no one kept the test results. I am having a lot of trouble in work and in my marriage and I am trying to get help. Is there a way that I can get tested again now that I’m an adult? Or look up previous tests from years ago? Thank you.

  9. Austin Kinsey says:

    Hi,I was wondering where and how I can take this test? A little about my past and present self. As a kid and teenager I struggled in school and was placed in specail education. In high school I tested high enough to be placed in regular education classes but with an I.E.P. I had to do most of my exams seperate from the classroom or had extensions on my school work. From then till now I’ve had a hard time processing information . I have a bad short term memory I need to do things repetitively for me to remember. This makes jobs diffficult cause I will get trained on specific task and may not do it until days later and then I’m drawing a blank and can’t do it. I struggle in math I need a pen and paper to be able to solve problems. Cause I can’t do it off my head. Staying focused is troubling for me too. Which is hard in the work place. As I’ve gotten older it has got better but issues are still there. I have asked my parents but nerver got a straight answer from my parents. Only denial,which makes it harder cause years ago I overheard my mother on the phone with her friend and she referred to me as “slow”. That really stuck with me to this day and makes me want to know and understand more about any issues I may have. So if I could get information it would be appreciated thanks

  10. Hi, I am glad to have read other LD comments regarding their struggles comment learning disability. I did not know I had learning disability until my girlfriend had ask me to get my medical records from the hospital. I had problems at school and following life instructions since when I was young boy up until my adult. I find it hard
    to explain things to people even writing this I
    find it difficult. Sometimes my mind means well
    but I find it hard to do things when it involving
    making a decision. I did finished high school
    through summer school and I thought my would get better but still having problems. I feel
    so much pressure writing this. I feel so ashamed asking for help although I need it badly. My problem is I have to force my self mentaly to do things to get them done and I feel mentally drained. I read every one comment and I am having difficulty in writing my own. This how my brain function and this upset me about myself.

  11. I am a mom of a 24 yr old who had consistent IEP’s in high school with the diagnosis of Learning Disabled. Can this IEP serve as proof of disability now- for applying for assistance from social security or is there other testing that needs to be done for this? Thank you.

  12. HELP! My husband was on special ed when he was younger (and thrived) then the principal placed him back on regular school and flunked. He went to school but missed a lot of subjects. He tried getting his GED but it seems that he cannot learn.

    I don’t know where to go or how to help him. He got laid off and now unemployed and his lack of GED or high school is preventing him to get into a work. Btw, he is big, diabetic and not a handy man. He can do customer service but without the GED… :(

    Please help us. We are in East Los Angeles.

  13. Rennie Rodriguez says:

    We need to get our son evaluated specifically for LD Type. We have a psychological evaluation but need a separate evaluation for LD Type. He has been diagnosed with AD/HD and the medications only make him drowsy but still unable to function in college. Where can we go in Orlando, Florida to get him evaluated.
    Please help.

  14. LISA LOPEZ says:

    I think i may have a learning disability and don’t know where i need to start for help.

  15. Mrs. C. Dalton says:

    I’ve recently been informed during a session w/ my psychiatrist that I probably have an LD. I’m 43 yrs old and on Soc. Sec. disability for severe PTSD & major depression; although I’m currently enrolled in college (online) I’ve NEVER successfully completed ANY type of math course in any form… I was expelled from high school after attending 2 yrs (but only attaining 2 credits w/ NONE for math) & further advised to drop out. When I acquired my GED, my score for the math portion was 50%. My income is VERY limited, as is my time…the college math courses have been delayed (by me) but now I HAVE to take them in order to get my degree. Apparently, everything happens for a reason? However, if my Medicare coverage makes me eligible for assistance to whom to I go for evaluation? Where/how do I start? HELP!?!?

  16. My son has struggled with his social and comprehension skills. From K-12th grade he was in IEP, yet his doctors kept denying that he has a problem. How/ where can I get him tested ? Because I do not know what is exactly what his condition is, I do not know how to help. I have been struggling with helping him for years. He cannot find a job nor can he is able to start college classes. I asked if he could be tested for Asperger’s Syndrome, but they told me there is nothing wrong with him.
    Help in California…

  17. Ms Caldwell says:

    My fiance who is a very sweet person, loves to work with his hands, has been looking for steady employment for years, He has issues focusing when it comes to reading, anythind with the computer scares him. How can we get him evaluated.

  18. My is 20 and says he thinks he has LD, need to know where I can take him Chicago IL to have him tested


    I am 60 yrs old now and have strugged all life with math, and other.issue. there was no help for me growing up. it has limited me in several areas of my life. I was afraid of pursuing higher education because I knew math would always be a barrier for me. Howe ver my creative side became my saving grace, and an escape for me. But even now with some of my current ideas that could be very financially sucessful, I still face a new fear not just of failure , but the challange of success and all that comes with it. Is there still hope and help for me. David.

  20. John OHara says:

    I’ve Ben blessed to have always had work but I struggle in classes that I have to take for my job last grade complete was the sixth grade I’m fifty one now and was in spechel Ed classes I have panic attacks just because I know I have a learning disability in the last one in the class room when it come to taking a test but at least I’m passing for now I’ve Beñat my present job for fifteen years . I just don’t know how much longer they well put up with me . I’d like to get my GED but was always afrade I’d fail. God has blessed me with three beatyful and very smart kids all are in advanced classes and two of them have already gotten thur high school…..I’m worried that I’ll never get my ged

  21. My Son is almost done with college. All his school life he was in special ed his IEP expired but now college is asking for testing and diagnosis so they can accommodate his test. Where can I go to get him tested?

  22. Since I was younger I have always suffered with phonetics and spelling. It is now as an adult in grad school, that I noticed how bad I really am. I am looking for away to test for a learning disability. Please, any advise would be great.
    I’m from South Florida. Looking for a testing center for adult near by.

  23. I would love to learn more about this. I was searching the web looking for help in this area. I have never been diagnosed with any learning disability, however, I have had constant struggles. I have managed to get around it with high verbal abilities and great proof readers.

    I have been limited through my whole career because of my poor grammar, and spelling. I would just avoid situations that would call me out. This has limited my writing and moving forward in my education. I have been asked to consider returning to school for my masters- but fear that I will not be able to move forward. So can you teach an old dog, new tricks?

    I live in IL what would be my first step?

  24. nicole biegley says:

    I have a learning disability and started college now I am struggling with it and was told I need to get an education evaluation. I am struggling to find out were to go for it. I need help I am getting frustrated cause I don’t understand the stuff and it takes me longer than others n my class can someone steer me in the right direction as to what exactly I need to do to get this stuff started.

  25. I am looking for a place in the Dayton, OH area that could preform the screening. Any suggestions?

  26. Yes I’m disable with a deafness in my right ear and with RA (arthritis),also High blood pressure also with so many heavy blow in my head (such car accident and bat, hockey buck etc) cause mental impairment, I always try to improve myself reading and comprehensive in listening carefully and expressing verbally to others, I’m bilingual (Spanish and English) I relearn again the English and Spanish language and willing to embrace my skills to a challenging world of today’s technology ” it has been said by many: not knowing how to use a computer and comprehends it’s technology ,is like not knowing how to read and write

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