Save the date for our 59th Annual Conference in New Orleans! January 27th - 30th, 2022


I am a poor speller and have been all my life. Is this a learning disability?

Difficulty with spelling is one of many characteristics of learning disabilities; however, poor spelling alone does not identify the presence of a learning disability. If you are interested in determining whether or not you have a learning disability, read about the evaluation process at

Why do we still use the term learning disability?

The term “learning disability” was first used by Dr. Sam Kirk in a paper he submitted to a conference in 1963. That term was widely accepted and used in civil rights legislation and the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) until 2013, when the DSM-5 replaced the term “learning disability” with “learning disorder.” However, most people still use the term “learning disability,” primarily because civil rights legislation that protects people with disabilities uses the term “learning disability.”

What is the easiest way that an adult can become qualified under the ADA (American with Disabilities Act) in order to receive reasonable accommodations and services in work, school and licensing bureaus where taking standardized tests are required for licensing?

To request and receive job and/or testing accommodations, an adult must be diagnosed with a disability. For information about learning disability evaluations for adults, go to

Can a learning disability be diagnosed with help of MRI, CT scan and EEG by a neurologist?

No. However, some tests such as an MRI or CT scan may be helpful in diagnosing a traumatic brain injury or other neurological damage that may be at least part of the cause for a learning disability. Some researchers are exploring the possibility of using those types of tests as part of a learning disability diagnosis, but at this time, a learning disability can only be diagnosed with psychological testing, administered by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist.

I am currently attending a four-year college I have always felt as though I have trouble focusing and paying attention. What type of doctor will diagnosis my condition and what do I ask when I call them?

The first step would be to contact your family doctor and report your problems with focusing and paying attention. It may be that you have some level of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which can range from mild to severe. Most general practitioners can diagnose ADHD, and it’s usually the most inexpensive way to go.

There is an adult screening tool for ADHD developed by the World Health Organization here. You may want to print the document, fill it out, and see if it indicates a likelihood that you may have ADHD. If so, it would be helpful if you could take it with you when you visit your doctor.

A good resource for learning more about ADHD is

I have struggled with math all my life. What types of tests are used to diagnosis a math disability?

There are no specified tests in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the latest publication used to diagnose disorders. Rather, there is a list of diagnostic criteria that includes symptoms that have persisted for at least six (6) months, despite the provision of interventions that target difficulties with learning, including difficulty learning math.

That said, when a psychologist or psychiatrist completes a learning disability evaluation for someone who is having difficulty in the area of math, the evaluator will use a variety of tests to determine difficulties mastering all areas of math, including number sense, memorization of arithmetic facts, accurate or fluent math calculation and ability to reason with numbers. There are a number of standardized achievement tests that may be used as part of a math disorder diagnosis, but it is the diagnostician’s choice to determine which tests they choose to use during the evaluation. The diagnostician will also examine the person’s history of learning in all areas, not just in the area of math.

Does someone with a documented learning disability need to be retested at any point in order for that diagnosis to be considered current/relevant?

Learning disability documentation is considered current if the testing was completed within the last five (5) years. Sometimes that 5-year limit can be waived, but it depends on the age of the person, how long it has been since testing, any major life changes since the time of testing, and the reason for submitting the documentation. Once the documentation has passed the 5-year mark, it is generally up to the reviewing school or organization to determine whether or not the report should be updated.

Does a learning disability diagnostic report need to be specific about the types of learning disabilities one has?

Yes. Learning disability evaluations should include a list of all diagnosed disabilities. If the evaluations were completed within a school district, the specific educational diagnoses will be listed. If completed by someone outside of the school district, the report will include the corresponding Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) Axis Codes. However, some evaluations conclude that the person has LD-NOS (Learning Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified). The LD-NOS category is a broad, catch-all category for people with notable learning difficulties that affect education and/or work, but do not fit the criteria for some other category.