Adult Learning Disability Assessment Process

If you are an adult and suspect that you have a learning disability (LD) you may be at a loss about how to obtain testing and the assessment process. This article will explain what is a learning disability assessment for adults, why should someone be assessed, who can conduct an assessment, how much an assessment might cost and what are the questions to ask a qualified assessor. It is important to choose a qualified professional to conduct the assessment so that it can be done thoroughly and assure that you obtain the accommodations necessary in school and in the workplace.
Psychologist talking to patient

What is a learning disability assessment for adults?

An LD assessment is a gathering of relevant information about an individual’s areas of strengths and challenges to determine whether or not he or she may have a learning disability. The components of the assessment process may vary depending on which individual, clinic, or agency is conducting the assessment, but most assessments include the following:

  • Screening (informal interview, brief test, career interest inventories, and/or review of medical, school, or work histories)
  • Evaluation (formal testing for achievement, intelligence, and processing)
  • Diagnosis (a statement specifying the results of the assessment, including the type of LD identified)
  • Recommendations (for work, school, and/or daily living)

Why should someone be assessed?

Adults choose to undergo an LD assessment for a number of reasons, including:

  • Significant problems at work or school that prevent them from reaching their career and/or educational goals
  • Significant problems in daily life ( e.g., relationships, managing finances, decision-making)
  • A desire to know why they have always struggled to learn and remember information

The first step to overcoming challenges is to determine the cause of the challenges. By completing the LD assessment process, adults can obtain the information and documentation they need to formally request accommodations at work or in school, and to determine effective strategies for learning and living based on their areas of strengths.

Who can conduct an LD assessment?

Only qualified professionals can conduct LD assessments. Such professionals have been certified to select, administer, and interpret a variety of neurological, psychological, educational, and vocational assessment instruments. The professional chosen should:

  • Have experience assessing adults for LD
  • Have information about local and state services and resources
  • Be able to help adults use their assessment results to determine their legal rights and responsibilities, strategies, accommodations, and next steps to meet goals

To find a qualified professional in their area, adults should consider the following resources:

  • State and local LDA chapters
  • Community Mental Health Centers
  • Rehabilitation Services Agency (http://rsa.ed.gov/people.cfm, click on “State Agencies/Contacts.”)
  • Local private psychologist or psychological clinic
  • Local college or university psychology department
  • University-affiliated hospitals and clinics

How much does an LD assessment cost?

The cost of an LD assessment varies depending on where it is conducted geographically, type of professional who administers the assessment, and the assessment’s  comprehensiveness. The cost of the assessments typically range between $500 – $2,500.

Some insurance policies will cover the cost of the assessment. Local mental health clinics and university psychology departments sometimes offer a sliding scale fee for the assessment. Vocational Rehabilitation agencies sometimes provide LD assessments at no cost as part of their intake process for agency applicants who are accepted as new clients.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) clients who have either a history of LD OR disclose to their case managers that they think they have LD have a right to an LD assessment as part of their TANF services.

Questions to ask the qualified assessor

  • Have you tested many adults with learning disabilities before?
  • How much will the assessment cost, and what does the cost cover?
    • Can insurance cover the costs?
    • Are there other funding sources?
    • Can you provide a payment plan?
  • How long will the assessment take?
  • What will be involved in the assessment?
  • Who will have access to the assessment results?
  • Will there be a written report of the assessment?
  • Will you explain the written report to me?
  • Will the assessment give me more information about why I am having trouble with my job, school, or daily life?
  • Will you give me ideas about accommodations for my disability?
  • Will you give me information about how to self-advocate for my disability at school or work?
  • Will the report make recommendations about where I can go for further help?

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Comments

  1. Do any of you know if FSA can be used to pay for this testing?

    • LDA of America says:

      Many insurance companies approve the use of FSA funds for an LD evaluation, but you should check with your insurance provider first to make sure that type of evaluation is covered as an “eligible” expense for using those funds.

  2. Hello. I am 57 yrs old and have been married to the same man for 21 years. While I am a clinical social worker & very insightful and perceptive, I am just realizing, after a lot of confusion, frustration and loneliness that my husband must have a learning disability. He, naturally, is unwilling to be evaluated; is there ANY way I can try to assess so I can understand it better?

    • LDA of America says:

      If your husband is unwilling to be evaluated by a licensed professional, it will be difficult to determine if he has a specific learning disability. However, if he is having difficulty finding or maintaining a job, vocational rehabilitation could be suggested, and they would recommend an evaluation before they suggested a career path. Also, if you know of an adult that he admires who has a diagnosed LD, that person might be helpful in talking to him. To assess him yourself would be difficult. However, in general if he has some areas that he tends to excel in and other areas that he is extremely deficient in, chances are that he has some sort of a learning disability.

  3. Jermaine Jackson says:

    Hello. I believe that the mother of my child has a problem. I think that it may be a Learning Disorder, but I don’t know. Will the “Adult Learning Disability Assessment Process” be able to identify (within reason) that a person’s problems may stem from something other than a Learning Disability…perhaps even a mental illness, etc.?

    Does the Evaluation (formal testing for achievement, intelligence, and processing) portion of the thesting generally include an I.Q. exam?

  4. I was always an average to slightly above average student. I always did pretty well in every subject except math. I am very “right brain oriented” and always struggled heavily in math because it’s so analytical and “left brain.” focused. Since I was an overall “B” student I always just assumed that I was struggling with math because I didn’t like it. I got very frustrated because I could never understand the logic behind the problems. Recently I went back to school and I am required to take another math class, and that feeling of anxiety and frustration returned. I began reading that it is possible to have a learning disability specifically in math. I wondered if that might apply to me. I mentioned that thought to my wife, who dismissed it because “math is just a weakness for you, doesn’t mean you have a learning disability.” I wonder if anyone else has a similar situation. I don’t whether I am just trying to rationalize my poor math skills or if there truly could be an underlying cause.

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