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

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.

Resources

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.

Comments

  1. NEED HEL & INFO ABOUT RETAKING GED TEST

  2. WAS TOLD I WOULDNT HAVE TO NOW THEY SAY I DO HAVE TO TO GET MY GED.WAS IN SPECIAL ED CLASSES AS A CHILD SO IT WAS TRULY A MIRICAL I PASSED THE TEST AT ALL NOW 45 AND NEED A JOB A REAL JOB THIS TIME NOT GETTING ANY YOUNGER JUST WONDERING IS IT TRUE THAT I HAVE TO TAKE THE WHOLE TEST OVER AGAIN OR WAS I MIS INFORMED?

  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

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