You ask an excellent question about the need for ‘recent’ disability documentation. Each college or university develops their own policy for reviewing student documentation, determining barriers to education, and providing needed accommodations. When looking at schools for your daughter, read through the documentation policy for each disability office. Ask questions about what type of evaluation material is needed and how current it must be to access accommodations at their institution. Schools can vary greatly in what they require to determine accommodations for students with disabilities. The Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) is another excellent resource for information about disability services in the post-secondary setting. AHEAD provides the following explanation on their website about current, relevant and recent documentation:
“Disability documentation should be current and relevant but not necessarily “recent”. Disabilities are typically stable lifelong conditions. Therefore, historic information, supplemented by interview of self-report, is often sufficient to describe how the condition impacts the student at the current time and in the current circumstances. Institutions should not establish blanket statements that limit the age of acceptable external documentation”. (www.ahead.org)
Unfortunately, every state seems to handle disability accommodations differently. Some have policies mandating accommodations; others do not. The only thing you can do is contact your DMV (or whoever does the testing in your state) and ask them what accommodations you would be eligible for based on your disability diagnosis and documentation. Typical testing accommodations for paper-based or computer-based tests include:
Access to auditory format, either text-to- speech software or a reader;
Extra time to complete the test;
Private, distraction-free room for testing;
A scribe (someone to write or keyboard for you);
Calculator for math problems; and
Breaks, if needed.
You may also request other accommodations if needed and if your disability documentation supports the need.
An auditory processing disorder is a condition that adversely affects how sound that travels unimpeded through the ear is processed and interpreted by the brain. For more information, see https://ldaamerica.org/types-of- learning-disabilities/auditory- processing-disorder/
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiological disorder that is influenced by environmental factors. Typically, people with AD/HD have developmentally inappropriate behavior, including poor attention skills, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. For diagnosis, the behaviors must be out of the normal range for the person’s age and development. According to the DSM-5, characteristics include:
Many students working towards a high school equivalency diploma, including students in GED® adult education programs, may have learning disabilities, although many of those students have never been diagnosed. According to The Neurobiology of Reading and Dyslexia, by Sally E. Shaywitz, M.D., and Bennet A. Shaywitz, M.D., approximately 85% of people with learning disabilities have some type of reading disability. That percentage applies to all people with learning disabilities, whether or not they are enrolled in a GED®, HiSET®, or TASC™ adult education program.
So while students with learning disabilities include students with various types of learning disabilities, the most common learning disability is a reading 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 https://ldaamerica.org/adult-learning-disability-assessment-process/
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.”
Yes, learning disabilities are lifelong, so any learning disability diagnosed in childhood would still be present when the child is an adult. However, the learning disabilities evaluation is only valid for 3-5 years, depending on how it needs to be used. If you need to submit documentation of your learning disability to request accommodations in postsecondary school or in the workplace, you will most likely need to obtain a new evaluation of your learning disability from a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist.