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. My wife was tested and diagnosed with a LD 5 years ago. She is in her mid 40s now. I have been trying to find resources or educational support information or groups, if such a thing even exists in the Los Angeles area. Can you help? She says something like that wouldn’t help, but other than the initial diagnosis we have not really found a way to move forward. She has a career she is good at but struggles in other ways. Most resources or counselors I have found online are for kids not adults. Please help if you can.

    • LDA of America says

      LDA is beginning a support group for adults with learning disabilities. Check out the Learning Disabilities Association of America’s Facebook page for more information.

  2. I am a college student with the intent to become an Elementary School teacher, and I am struggling with math, writing, and just being in the moment and paying attention.It’s as if my brain is recieving too much information and goes into overload. I feel like I am retaining nothing and my attention span is limited. I am tired of struggling and know I was never tested growing up, but remember being in Special Ed. classes and remediation classes for math. How do you test for LD and test anxiety? What about math dyslexia?

    • LDA of America says

      A diagnostician or school psychologist may conduct learning disability assessments. Many Universities have a graduate program in School Psychology, which is overseen by certified diagnoticians that may test at a reduced rate. Additional diagnosticians are available for a fee. These diagnosticians should also be able to test for dyscalculia. You may also want to talk to a physician about your attention challenges and anxiety to find out if medication might be an option for you. Good luck!

  3. Terraine Smith says

    Hello. I am a 76 years senior. I want to go back to college and get my Associate degree. I need 32 more credits to complete. But I thing I have “Dyscalculia.” While colleges have a disability dept, to help student with different diabilities. But to something specific as Dyscalculia, is not afford. I have one more math to complete but I am stuck. I think colleges need to reconsider, reincorporated, some kind of curriculum to help those that want to return to college with this type of disability. I want more attention, brought to this problem, so to help so many out there that feel their is no use, and they are just down right dumb-they are not dumb.
    Thank you!

    • LDA of America says

      Some higher education institutions offer a waiver for the math requirement, and even more will offer a course substitution. Check with the disability services office at your college to see what they recommend for you. If that college does not offer this support, maybe other colleges in your area will. Good luck to you in reaching this lifelong goal!!

  4. hello I’m 33 years old I had 5 brothers and a sister, I am the middle child, mom was single and sold drugs, needless to say education was not my main focus growing up, I believe I have an L.D but want to be assessed, I didn’t graduate and I tried to go back to school and had an anxiety attack, please I need someone’s help, I’m in Sacrament,Ca, and really just want to be able to have a career not just a job….
    please if there is someone with any advice I would appreciate it

    • LDA of America says

      Check with your local Vocatioinal Rehabilitiation office https://www.dor.ca.gov/Home/SupportedEmploymentProgram to see if you qualify for its services that may include testing and job coaching assistance depending upon your Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor assessment. Also, the Job Accommodation Network https://askjan.org/ offers assistance with disabilities and work place.

    • LDA of America says

      Often times, universities that have a school or educational psychology department conduct diagnostic testing as a reduced cost. Some insurance companies will pay for testing. One way to obtain a career is through obtaining a college degree or certification. One suggestion is to work with the college’s Disability Services Office for accommodations.

  5. All my life I have struggled with math and never knew why! I was always told it just “wasn’t my strong suit” but now I know there might actually be a psychological reason behind this! I am in college now and basic college algebra is the one credit preventing me from graduating. I have taken a learning support math class 3 semesters in a row and have failed multiple times. I’m wondering now if theres anything I can do to have this requirement waived on grounds of learning disability, if I get an assessment that confirms it?

    • LDA of America says

      Some colleges do offer a math waiver, and even more offer a math course substitution. Check with the Office of Disability Services at the college to see what your college offers. They would also be able to help you find out who in your area might get to complete the assessment for you. Don’t give up! It would be such a shame not to get a degree just because of a math class!

  6. Gerald Caldeira says

    My wife has a learning disability. She panics if she needs to do any type of test , or spell. She is not stupid. Who can we contact to get her evaluated here in Northern California? She is sixty-two years old and manages logistics worldwide. I feel so sorry to see her struggle like she does. I believe once she is evaluated she can remedy her situation Her mother drank alcohol and used drugs when she was carrying my wife. My wife was also premature. She weighed three pounds at birth. Please help.

    • LDA of America says

      Today, there are many apps that assist with people’s challenge areas. I suggest checking out the various reviewed apps at Georgia Tech’s Tools for Life at https://gatfl.gatech.edu/favorite-search.php. Personally, I am a terrible speller too; I have added Grammarly to all of my computers and devices. As for taking a test, I would request an accommodation of speech-to-text or a reader, which will allow her to demonstrate her knowledge and ability, not her disability. To find someone who does evaluations for individuals with disabilities in your area, you might contact the disability services office in a local college and ask who they recommend to students. Your wife is lucky to have you on her side!

  7. My mom is over 65 and growing up even though she took great care of us i noticed at a very young age that it was hard for her to understand things. She often smiled and nodded in conversations knowing she did not understand what the person was saying. It was very frustrating for me to have deep conversations with her because of this and it led to many arguments. She was known to proscrastinate and simple tasks could take months to complete. After working in the social services field and working with clients that has cognitive and developmental delays it really dawned on me that i need to seek help. I wanted to know how I can start the process of getting her evaluated. Where can I go in nyc if she has public insurance? What should i know about the process?
    I must admit i feel terrible because throughout the years we have argued over things that i could’ve been more considerate of.

    • LDA of America says

      A diagnostician or school psychologist may conduct learning disability assessments. Many universities have graduate programs in School Psychology, which are overseen by certified diagnoticians that may test at a reduced rate. Additional diagnosticians are available for a fee. You might contact the disability services office at an area college or university to see who they recommend to complete assessments for their students. It is wonderful that you are realizing now how you might be of help to your mother. Don’t beat yourself up about the past. Just move forward from now.

  8. Leslee Carles says

    I am now at age 57 Finding out I have a LD. Had math tutors when I was young back in the 70’s and HATED math all my life, I NEVER realized there was a actual name for it! Anyway I do really well in reading love to read. I graduated and even joined the Navy. But have struggled holding a job since getting out of the Navy. I know I also have ADHD. My question is this, HOW do I find documents for elementary school when the school no longer exists? My parents didn’t have me tested. Do you know if the VA will test me?

    • LDA of America says

      Whatever documents may have been in place in your elementary school are too much out of date to be useful. Documentation needs to be current within the last 3-5 years to request accommodations, depending on what type of organization you are asking to accommodate you (workplace, college, etc.). You’ll have to contact your local VA office to see if they will provide assessments or not. If not, you may want to contact your local Vocational Rehabilitation Services office to see if they can help you (1) identify any possible disability, and (2) get a more appropriate job or career. There’s information about finding your local Vocational Rehabilitation Services office at http://rsa.ed.gov/people.cfm. Just click on “State Agencies/Contacts.” There’s also information about how they help people with disabilities at https://ldaamerica.org/rehabilitation-services-administration-rsa/

  9. Phillip Troy says

    I believe finding the information on this website has just changed the course of my life. I am 49 years old, and this is the first time I’m hearing what I have struggled with all my life is called an LD, it can be diagnosed, there are people who understand it, and there is support and help available. I cannot describe how much life grief my inability to remember and memorize things has caused me when pursuing academics and career. In fact, today I once again backed away from an amazing job opportunity due to my inability of memory and recall that would be necessary for the job. I just couldn’t take the shame, stress, and heartache after today. I was searching the internet this evening for answers and eventually came to this website. There are so many things I relate to in it such as having built many strategies over the years to navigate life/work as to compensate for and hide my lack of memory from others. I read here that an intellectual disability and a learning disability are not the same thing. Many times in the past I’ve wondered if what I was dealing with was some form of intellectual disability. The majority of my friends and family have far exceeded where I’m at in life in their careers, finances, etc, and it’s greatly bothered me knowing what I must look like to other people when I’m not at a better place in life at my age. Now I’m 100% confident what I’m dealing with is a learning disability, specifically memory. I have no idea why I’m just putting this together. Thank you for the information on this website. My next steps are to use one of the screening tools, look for any local LDA chapters near Kansas City for further information or resources for adult, and get a professional assessment.

    • LDA of America says

      Your comment made our day!! We are thrilled that you found our website helpful. I hope by now that you have made a connection with someone in Kansas LDA. To get a comprehensive psychoeducational assessment, one suggestion if you are close to a university is to check and see if there is an Educational Psychology program, which often conducts diagnostic testing at a discount or sliding scale. These tests are conducted by graduate students and supervised by licensed diagnosticians. There are many strategies and apps available to help with the executive function issue of memory deficits.

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