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Diagnosing and Assessing Learning Disabilities

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 14 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
Diagnosing Assessing Assessment Learning

When one hears about a learning disability, they frequently assume that the term refers to students or children. While this is often true, there are many adults that learn in different ways and may be challenged by certain features of everyday life. Diagnosing learning disabilities among the adult population is an important and necessary activity.

Why Assess Adults?

You might be wondering why diagnosing adults with learning disabilities is a concern at all. Isn't it true that most learning-disabled adults were once children with learning disabilities? Since today's schools are fully equipped for assessing learning disabilities in children, one might assume that adults and their families would be fully aware of their special needs. However, many adults, especially seniors, may have grown up without ever realising their learning disability. They may have been seen as slow or lazy, but the system in which they were educated was largely unaware of their needs.

The Process

So how is diagnosing learning disabilities among adults accomplished? There is no single assessment that identifies learning-disabled adults with certainty. The assessment procedure may vary depending on whether diagnosis is required for educational needs, employment needs, placement in services or self-awareness. The process usually begins with an initial interview followed by tests to establish intellectual and academic abilities. Assessment also includes evaluation of social skills and emotional behaviours.

Diagnosing learning disabilities in adults is essential because these individuals face many extra challenges in daily living. They are unable to process information quickly, but at the same time are reluctant to seek assistance. Managing money is difficult as well. The basic maths skills required to balance a cheque book, pay bills or even make proper financial choices is beyond their comprehension. The work history of adults with learning disabilities almost always means that retirement income will be minimal. These individuals are also at much higher risk of being victimised by fraud.

Achieving Goals

The goals of adults with learning disabilities are no different than those of other adults. They are looking for ways to become more independent, they would like to be engaged in a job that is personally satisfying, and they want to establish meaningful relationships with friends.

The tendency for families of children with learning disabilities is to continue caring for them into adulthood. While this may be emotionally satisfying for the family carer, it limits the independence of the adult with a learning disability.

There has been a shift toward focusing on independent living for adults with a learning disability. One reason for this new direction is that this generation may be the first to see learning-disabled adults outliving their carer parents. Advances in health care have resulted in the ageing of the population. The number of learning-disabled seniors who have outlived their family carers is growing.

Diagnosing and assessing learning disabilities in adults often results in relief when a positive finding is made. The learning-disabled adult has likely fought with difficulties throughout their life and may have chalked up their problems to a general lack of ability. Assessment of a learning disability opens the door to available services, equips them with coping skills and moves them toward a more successful and secure status of independent living.

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[Add a Comment]
Hi .My daugther is being in a psychiatrist hospital since 24th march 2017 and now the referral her to do learning disability test. How long to get one appointment?There is any number I can calling to check?Thanks
Renata - 14-Apr-17 @ 10:12 PM
Am - Your Question:
Hi my father went to a special needs school due to spending a lot of his childhood in hospital, my father is unable to understand his bill, I really would like to have a proper report to point out his difficulties, as I was diagnoised with learning difficulties which my psychologist thought it may be hereditary, is ther any place in the north west I would be able to get my father tested. Thanks

Our Response:
Please speak to your GP, they should be able to make a referral for you, especially if your father's learning difficulties are affecting his daily living as you describe.
AboutLearningDisabilities - 2-Mar-17 @ 12:09 PM
Hi my father went to a special needs school due to spending a lot of his childhood in hospital, my father is unable to understand his bill, I really would like to have a proper report to point out his difficulties, as I was diagnoised with learning difficulties which my psychologist thought it may be hereditary, is ther any place in the north west I would be able to get my father tested. Thanks
Am - 28-Feb-17 @ 9:34 PM
Hi I would like to know if i have any learning problems but live in Burnham on sea in Somerset is there any local places I could go to to get diagnosed
Mu - 13-Feb-17 @ 4:07 PM
I would like to seek some advice please. My dad has recently been diagnosed with severe ADHD and Dyslexia. A number of years ago my mother took me to a center and they did some tests, they determined that i had a learning disability, but never said what it was. They just said that my mind works different to other children. I struggle with reading and writing and i struggle with sticking to one conversation and i seem to 'hedge-hop' from one subject to another. I also get easily frustrated. Kind Regards, Eve
eve - 26-Jan-17 @ 12:54 PM
Hello My Name is A Friend. Thinking of you and really think you should give this serious thought. it will help you get to the next level. Do not be full of pride anger or fear.#Do not be offended# It is done with love and concern. Please follow this up. Ask around for advice.
na - 1-Dec-16 @ 9:58 PM
I a learingdifficulties becausse have globally learning due to me being premature and I need a assessment please can you help me.
Hamza Ali - 1-Feb-16 @ 4:27 PM
@TM. If your daughter is unhappy and you think it would help her to be officially assessed, the try the BILD the British Institute of Learning Difficulties. They will point you in the right direction.
AboutLearningDisabilities - 9-Oct-14 @ 2:17 PM
My daughter is 20 years old and I have often wondered if she has a mild learning difficulty. She has always seemed to have a problem with her comprehension. When she was at school I would mention this to her teachers but they all seemed to think there was nothing wrong. She seems unable to talk about anything 'too complex' so conversations usually revolve around 'simple' subjects. Whenever she reads anything she often says she doesn't understand what is being said or what something means. She doesn't understand irony and many jokes tend to go over her head. She often gets frustrated and says she is 'dumb'. I feel this problem is holding her back from getting a good job. She just missed out on doing an apprenticeship because of not clearly understanding or remembering what was said to her so she didn't turn up the next day as she apparently was told to do. There's a lot more I could say but the main thing I want to know is if there is any kind of test she could have to see if she does have a mild learning disability. Mnay thanks
TM - 9-Oct-14 @ 12:12 PM
Hi there, I have often wondered why I do so badly in exams, failing most of the time. In the working environment it is quite the opposite because I pick up on things a lot faster. I despise sitting behind a study desk but I believe is it purely because I know I will fail, no matter how hard I try and study. I have come to the conclusion that I possibly have a LD, but I don't know how to establish it. Any advice? Thanks and regards B
B - 29-Aug-12 @ 8:47 PM
I an interested to know more about adult learning difficulties and have found your article interesting. Do you think that an adult who has fled his country of origin and has little English because he lacked education in his homeland would be considered to have learning difficulties
annie - 16-Mar-12 @ 2:42 PM
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