Screening Adults for Learning Disabilities

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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

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.

Resources

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Comments

  1. It’s been over ten years since I been out of school, now that I want to go back to school ( college) I can’t get into the program because I need more time to take the test. I know I have a learning disability because I have had one all my life, my is question to you is where do I go to get re tested so I can have accommodations. To attend school again

  2. Greetings:
    I am pursuing fragments of my adult 32 year old self through the Internet. I have always had some difficulty retaining information, following directions at some point, sustaining long conversations without losing focus, explaining a concept, discussing complex topics I have not been able to grasp, among other difficulties. I have survived without medication or even going to a doctor for a proper diagnosis, using mindfulness tools and grounding techniques found in my adulthood through my discovery of yoga and meditation.
    There are still bad days when I am not able to communicate satisfactorially when I need to. As socially charming as I have learned to be for most situations, I most feel at home by myself, away from scrutiny, possible awkward instances in which I feel like a social failure, etc.
    I would like to pursue this thread of knowing why I feel “disabled” somehow. What may I have, how to counter it. How to become better at being me because sometimes I rather find myself exhausting to try to understand on my own.

    • LDA of America says:

      I have a couple of suggestions for you. First, I would recommend that you contact a physician in your area who has experience in working with adults with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and make an appointment. Hopefully this professional can help to determine if you have AD/HD and if medication would help. Then find a licensed professional in your area to schedule an assessment to see if you might have a learning disability. A psychological evaluation will also include recommendations for you on ways to compensate for your deficits. Good luck!

  3. Bethany says:

    I live in Delaware, and I want to get tested for a disability. I have no idea where to go and this website does not have any information for my state. Where do I go?

  4. Hello! I am in the Province of Ontario in Canada….I need to get my
    Learning disability assessed. Is there free testing etc like on this site I can do? Struggling for answers. Thank you! Michelle

  5. PATTY REYES says:

    HI! I WAS ALWAYS IN SPECIAL ED CLASSES SINCE I WAS IN ELENTARY. I DIDNT REALLY UNDERSTAND ALL THAT AND ALSO BEING AN ADULT STILL DONT UNDERSAND ALSO MY 2 KIDS SUFFER FROM IT, I TRY TO HELP THEM WITH SCHOOL BUT ITS HARD FOR ME. I ALSO WANT TO GO TO COLLEGE AND GET A DEGREE IN BUSINESS TO HELP MY HUSBAND OUT BUT THERE IS TIME THAT I FEAK WHAT IM DOING TO GET BY. I NEED HELP.

  6. ajmal wahab says:

    Hello,

    My mother is 62 and has learning disability. Because of her disability she is not able to get US Citizenship. For the US Citizenship everyone should pass the English language and Civics test. Which my mother cannot take because English is not her first language and she never learned English.

    My mother lives in Portland, Oregon. Can someone guide me how and where to take the screening test for learning disability in Portland.

    Thanks,

    Ajmal

  7. My husband has always had a hard time reading and writing and now is at a crossroads looking for a job but we think it will be difficult for the same reason. Where can he get tested for a learning disability in southern California?

  8. Shaughn Van Suffelen says:

    I am a 40 year old male. All the way up until my college years i have had trouble with my reading comprehension and of math. i had to have teachers to read the questions to the tests i take and i would choose answers correctly most of the time. Even today i am having trouble understanding what i read. Math was the same way. Technical math i can do. Algebra never figured it out. I struggled through algebra in and college.

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