Screening Adults for Learning Disabilities

Download Screening Adults for Learning Disabilities


What is learning disability (LD) screening?

Screening is the first step in the process of gathering relevant information about an individual with a suspected learning disability. Screening does not determine whether or not the person has a learning disability. It may include observations,
informal interviews, the use of a written tool, and/or a review of medical, school, or work histories.

How is LD screening different from LD diagnosis?

An LD diagnosis is a formal assessment that determines the actual presence of a learning disability. LD screening is an informal process that shows whether there is a probability that the person might have an undiagnosed learning disability. Informal screening can be done by an advocate for the person with a suspected learning disability, but formal diagnosis must be done by a qualified professional who can evaluate learning disabilities.

Why should LD screening be done?

Adults who have struggled with school and work may have undiagnosed learning disabilities. Screening is a way for an advocate to better determine the probability of the suspected learning disability, and to help the person decide if he or she needs to continue with an LD diagnosis. Also, LD screening can identify areas of strengths and challenges that will help the person better understand why he or she has struggled in certain areas of life. Knowing one’s strengths can help
determine the best strategies and/or technology to use to succeed in school and work.


Observations may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Does the person show unexpected underachievement in some areas, but demonstrates at least average ability in other areas?
  • Does the person show signs of poor vision or hearing?
  • Does the person having problems in the following areas: reading (oral and silent), expressive language (writing, spelling, handwriting), or math?
  • Does the person exhibit social behaviors that can
    interfere with learning, working, or daily living?

Informal Interviews

Advocates who conduct LD screening may ask the person, in an informal discussion, some questions about their past successes and challenges. The answers may indicate past behaviors, events, or characteristics that are associated with adults who have learning disabilities. Typical questions may include:

  • Did you get special help in school?
  • Do any of your family members have problems learning?
  • Have you had difficulty getting or keeping a job?
  • Do you have problems with reading, writing, or math skills?
  • What do you enjoy most, and why?

Informed Consent and Confidentiality

Informed consent ensures that the person undergoing the screening process understands the purpose of the screening, who will conduct the screening, how the results will be used, and how confidentiality will be maintained. Individual screenings by advocates should include a signed consent which should include the following information:

  • The name of the screening instruments used
  • The interval of time for screening
  • The purpose of screening
  • Who will see the results
  • How the results will be used
  • Where the forms will be stored and for how long
  • The adult’s signature and date
  • The advocate’s signature

Screening Tools

There are a number of screening tools available for advocates to use with the person who may have an undiagnosed learning disability. Some of these tools require special training, while others are available online. Some tools are free; others require training and may have associated training costs.

It is important, however, to choose a screening tool that is designed for the appropriate age group. When conducted and reviewed appropriately, using the right screening tool can be a valuable step in determining the need to seek further advice and evaluation.
Screening tools should also be:

  • Inexpensive
  • Quick to administer, score, and easy to interpret
  • Narrow in purpose
  • Able to provide information in several areas, such as language, motor and social skills

LD Screening Follow-Up

Advocates should be familiar with follow-up resources for those whose screening indicates a strong possibility of a learning disability, especially if the lack of documentation is a barrier to completing educational and career goals. The appropriate next step is to locate a licensed diagnostician to complete a formal LD assessment. For more information about LD assessments, see the information page at Adults Learning Disabilities Assessment Process.


LDA encourages the distribution of this information. Please provide appropriate credit if portions are cited. Information may not be reprinted for the purpose of resale.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. I struggled through school up until they put me in special classes in high school which I really resented but I could not pass mainstream classes because they get harder in high school but even before that I was assigned special assignments and was in the dummy classrooms. I have been unemployed moat of my adult life because it is hard passing an interview first of all but when I was hired I could not learn things quick enough and got fired. It takes me extra longer to learn things and employers do not have the time to wait it out. I have been attempting to take community college classes since high school and I cannot pass anything and can not get a certificate in an thing so I can have a chance of independence for once in my life. I am a huge burden to my family. I don’t know where to go to get tested and have help with employment. I’m as sick as my mother is that she has been burning money on college courses for nothing. I have gotten tutors for many years and it still doesn’t help. I also think that college has raised the bar all the way to the sky since I graduated high school 28 years ago.

    • LDA of America says:

      Contact your local Vocational Rehabilitation office. Find information about that agency at They help people with disabilities find jobs that match their strengths, and provide counseling to help you better understand your disability and how it affects your life. They may also be able to help you go back to college. If you decide to try college again, be sure to contact their Disability Support Services office FIRST. If you have current documentation of your disability, they will determine what accommodations you can have in class and during tests. There are many articles about this and other information about how to succeed in college as a person with a learning disability at If you don’t have current documentation of your disability, go to to learn how to get it. That documentation will help you pinpoint your areas of strengths and challenges to more effectively choose accommodations that will work for you.

  2. I have a granddaughter who was in an special school. She never graduated she has been looking for work and can not find work.i am really concerned because she is really trying and seem to be getting very discouraged. She had an hard time in trying to keep up in school. Please, please help us find some help. Is there any school out to help young ladies like to to try and get an diploma. She has problems counting too.

    • LDA of America says:

      Contact your local adult education program to see if they can help your daughter learn some basic skills and begin working towards earning a high school equivalency diploma. They should be listed under “Adult Education” in your phone book, or you can search for your state’s adult education website, where they will list local programs and contact information. Be sure and take your daughter’s disability documentation with you when you go to the adult education center for the first time so they can start the process of requesting accommodations on the test.

      You might also want to contact your local Vocational Rehabilitation office and set up an appointment for you and your daughter. Find information about that agency at They help people with disabilities find jobs that match their strengths, and provide counseling to help you better understand your disability and how it affects your life.

  3. America Lopez says:

    Hello.. I’ve struggled to get & maintain a job most of the time. I was in special ed for being a “slow learner” since elementary all the way to graduation.. I went to college for dental assisting, and to God be the glory i graduated, found a job as a dental assistant, but i was too slow to catch up on things, on top of being a shy person. I made mistakes, and my boss would humiliate me infront of everyone, until one day after about six months i just quit after he started nagging me off so loudly infront of patients & staff.. I also worked in a convenience store but would always come over or short with the money in the register, i never really caught up with it.. that store was going to close soon but i was told they’d call me to go to the new location but they didn’t call me back and id call but they’d give me the runaround. I had sheltered myself eversince my last job, gave up on a job but im back and now I’m even looking for a provider job from 8-2 mon-fri, but nothing.. They just tell me to leave my name & # but no call. I’m concidering the thought that i might have a learning disability after all, but i believe God can heal me if He wanted to, though it so seems this is the way He meant for me to be. And what can i do about that.. Even in all these things blessed be the name of the LORD.. God bless you all..
    Ps. I enjoy painting, arts & crafts, im learning to work with wood, i never worked with the clay to make pottery, always wanted to try it.. I easily get distracted though, with jumping to do other things, leaving the previous thing unfinished for a while, but evenso i can’t help but think that perhaps my Lord Jesus Christ has given me a talent or passion for art because He wants me to work with my hands 🙂

  4. Rebecca Preston says:

    Okay I need help. More ways the one. I hope some one can help here. I’m thinking about going back to college. But put it off because I have a learning disability. And I use to have a speech problem. In Highschool. I can’t find any of my paper work to prove it. I only have my report card that show I was taking out of classes. How do I prove it. Mine is miner. That I don’t know if I would show up. I’m worried about that. So could some one please help. Or send me where to go. I try the one link above but got the page doesn’t exist anymore. Okay. Thank you so much. Have a wonderful day.

Speak Your Mind