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How do you help an adult who has had many diagnosed learning disabilities throughout his life and has low self-esteem?

It can be helpful to first assist the person in determining

what his strengths are. A good starting question is, “What do you do

well?” That may be a hard question for him to answer at first, but

you can make suggestions based on what you know about him

already. Ask him what he likes to do in his spare time, and what skills

are involved in that? Is he creative? Is he a good listener? Is he reliable? Does he tell interesting stories? Is he artistic? Does he know how to build and/or fix things? Is he a good cook? Once you determine some basic areas of strengths, it may also help to set some short-term goals (one or two weeks) that use those strengths to succeed. Longer-term goals can be set later.

It may also be helpful to introduce him to some of the new, affordable (or free!) assistive technology that will help him to function better with tasks that he has difficulty with due to his learning disability. There is a lot of information about assistive technology at

What can an older adult with LD do to compensate for and or work around their LD?

Typical strategies and accommodations that may help adults with LD include reading out loud, audio texts, color-coding for organization, use of graphic organizers (charts, diagrams, etc.), having opportunities to re-state information in one’s own words, and one-on- one instruction in school or job training. Assistive technology (AT) is also helpful for adults with LD – at home, school, and work. See LDA’s information about AT at

For more information about adults with learning disabilities, go to basics-for-adults/

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.”

If I was diagnosed with a learning disability as a child, does that still apply now that I am an adult and graduated from high school?

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.