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. Molly M Jacobsen says

    What would be the most valid tests to see the residual effects dyslexia has on an gifted adult? I have a son who was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was younger. He did intensive OT, intensive OG, and intensive fluency training in math, reading, and writing. He spells, reads, and writes at the average level according to tests…even his fluency is. However, homework still takes twice as long as his peers and he gets burned out due to the cognitive stress. When given a choice and if his grades can asorb it, he will forego doing extra assgnments or assignments that aren’t required but would bring up his grades. (IE There was a research paper for 10% of his grade in one class. He chose not to do it due to being overwhelmed with the prospect and still being able to obtain a “B” in the class.) Despite this, he has maintained a 3.0+ GPA. He has had three internships in his chosen field and has done well. He is a junior in college and ready to take his licensing exam (NCEES). However, he has been denied accommodations because the testing agency says he doesn’t have a disability since he scores “average” on achievement tests and evidence/testing results is inconclusive. He is at the 12th percentile with cognitive fluency and the 90th percentile as GAI. He received accommodations throughout his school years and in college. In addition, he’s received accommodations on the SAT and another high stakes employment related test. However, on this test, he was denied. He MUST pass the test to get his license to continue in the field. He can’t do that without accommodations. He is so discouraged. Where do we go? How do we do it?

    I thought the newer 2016 law on testing accommodations would help. They don’t seem to make a difference for bright adults that still struggle.

    • LDA of America says

      I suggest going to the Disability Services Office to discuss his current strengths, challenges, and accommodations that enable him to maintain good grades. This person may be able to write a statement, as well as your son’s statement disclosing his use of accommodations that level the playing field along with hard work that enables him to maintain good grades. Another suggestion is to work with a coach to learn strategies to assist with testing strategies.

  2. Terri M Hester says

    I have been in Special Needs classes since high school I didn’t finish my high school diploma or get my GED I’ve been trying to go back to school so I can get my GED but I need to get tested to see where I’m at cuz I was going to Adult Learning Center in Brockton Massachusetts but I think I need to be tested see where I’m at where can I go to get that help

    • LDA of America says

      Check with a local Vocational Rehabilitation Services office to see if you are accepted into their services, which often will pay for testing. Check with your local college to see if it has an Educational Psychology program that conducts testing at a reduced rate.

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