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 https://ldaamerica.org/category/assessment-evaluation/assessment-evaluation-for-adults/
Common accommodations for dygraphia include access to a keyboard for writing, dictating to a scribe, or using a speech-to- text program that allow you to speak into a microphone on your computer and the computer will type what you speak. The ACT has previously approved the use of speech-to- text during testing, but the more common request is to ask for a scribe or keyboard access.
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.
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 www.chadd.org.
Yes. Postsecondary educational institutions, such as colleges and universities, are not responsible for providing learning disability assessments for their students. It is the student’s responsibility to provide the current documentation needed to request instructional and testing accommodations. However, some colleges and universities offer learning disability assessment through their graduate psychology program on a financial sliding scale. The testing is conducted by graduate students in the psychology program, then the results are reviewed and signed by one of the licensed professors overseeing the program. This type of testing can be more affordable due to the sliding scale cost. Some colleges provide testing through a comprehensive, fee-based LD support program.
Also, your local Rehabilitation Services Agency (RSA) (http://rsa.ed.gov/people.cfm, click on “State Agencies/Contacts”) may be able to conduct a free learning disability evaluation as part of their intake procedure that your college will accept as the documentation they need to grant you instructional and testing accommodations. Your RSA office would have to first determine your eligibility for their services, which is usually determined in an initial interview with an RSA counselor. Not all state RSAs offer the assessment as part of intake, so you would need to discuss that during your initial interview.
For more information about learning disabilities and postsecondary requirements, go to https://ldaamerica.org/category/post-secondary-options.
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.
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.
An IEP alone is not enough to get services in college. If a psychoeducational evaluation is included with it, then more than likely services can be obtained with that. Learning disabilities evaluations, including IEPs, should be valid for at least three (3) years, so if your last evaluation for your IEP was within the last three years, it should be fine. Sometimes colleges will waive the 3-year rule if the testing was last done in your later high school years. It’s always worth asking! If, however, your last evaluation was in middle school or junior high, you will probably need to obtain an updated evaluation to request accommodations in college or at work. Also worth noting is that some testing entities, such as those for high school equivalency exams, will accept learning disability evaluations that were completed within the last five (5) years.
You don’t have to be retested unless you need documentation for specific accommodations. If that is the case, there may be different criteria for how current the documentation is depending on who you are requesting the accommodations from.
High-stakes testing agencies usually require LD documentation to be current within the past 5 years. Many employers may not be concerned about how current the documentation is. Large companies would probably adhere to the 5-year rule; small companies may not.
Learning disabilities evaluations can be pretty expensive – usually running anywhere from $800 – $1500. So you might want to consider whether or not you actually need the diagnosis or if you’re just curious. If you need the documentation to request accommodations at work or on a standardized test, then you might want to explore getting a diagnosis. If you have a community mental health center nearby, they sometimes do LD evaluations on a sliding scale, which can cut your cost dramatically. Likewise, some colleges with graduate psychology departments may also provide LD evaluations on a sliding scale. If you are unemployed or looking for a better job, you should contact your local Rehabilitation Services Agency (http://rsa.ed.gov/people.cfm, click on “State Agencies/Contacts”).
For more information about the adult learning disability assessment process, go to https://ldaamerica.org/adult-learning-disability-assessment-process/