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. hello im 34 years old me name is Jenine , i have always struggle with learning as a child and have stayed behind in few grades … when my mother moved us to a new town the school started noticing i was having trouble … they tested me founds thing but i never knew anything and my mother didnt keep up at all … i have aways been in special ED classes since 5th grade to high school.. at 19 got pregnant and didnt finish 12 grade … 6 years ago i have bee trying to pass the GED and cant i need to figure out what LD i have can some please help me finding a way to get tested LD in Florida..

    • LDA of America says

      One suggestion is to check with your local Vocational Rehabilitation office https://www.askearn.org/state-vocational-rehabilitation-agencies/. You might also check with your local adult education program. If you are not sure where they are located, check with a local high school. Finally, if there is a college in your area that trains people to be school psychologists or licensed psychological examiners, they probably offer assessments for LD on a sliding scale.

  2. Carolyn Jones says

    My son is 30,We took him years ago to a Dr. And that Dr.said he had a.d.d. plus he could have athisum. No testing was ever done.He quit in the 9th grade.when he was a baby he flapped him arms a lot and squealed alot.He was taken to a Dr. That put him on adderall. Ritalin. And stratera.Some of that medicine nearly drove him crazy.I don’t know where to turn for help anymore for him.He can’t drive,cook,He won’t take a shower unless I tell him I’m not going anywhere with him smelling,with 4inch nails.He really needs help,He needs to learn to live on his own without me before I die because I’m in poor health.Please reply to me I will consider any advise you give me.Please help.Carolyn.

    • LDA of America says

      It sounds like your son is quite a challenge for you. If you don’t have a current diagnosis, I think I would take him to your family physician to get a diagnosis and to help determine what services might be available for him in your area. The specific diagnosis will determine what services he might qualify for.

    • Ms. Jones I’m sorry to hear about the challenges you’re facing. I have 3 children with a variety of learning challenges. There are some things that will always be difficult. One of the things is how we interact with them. We expect certain things and sometimes forget the mental aspect of how they receive it. I kept things simple, used videos, pictures, reward/encouragement strategies. Although they are adult in body, their minds don’t always demonstrate that. There are resources at libraries that have child like videos that are engaging audio and visually that teaches healthy habits. If you are concern about what will become of him once you’re gone, discuss with family and friends whom you trust what your wishes are. Lay out a plan of action. Guardianship Appointment, Live-In Facilities for the Disabled; Life Insurance that may help cover expenses; Family Lawyer that could map out strategies; State-funded programs that could clarify/document diagnosis, as well as teaching him, helping him understand how to help and protect himself. The government has a list of service sites that test and help with rehabilitative, developmental skills. I wish the best for you and your son. Pray to Jehovah God for his holy spirit for direction and support.

  3. Good morning.
    i wanted to find out if la frontera does testing to find out if i have a learning disability . im trying to study to do my citizenship. My step mom used to tell me i did but i would like to find out if is true .

    • LDA of America says

      It would be best to contact La Frontera directly to see if they do the testing to determine if an individual has a learning disability. If they do not, you might check with your local Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Good luck with this process and with getting your citizenship!

  4. 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.

  5. 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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