Abnormal Psychology

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The Nature of Psychopathology and Abnormal Psychology
The Diagnosis of Mental Disorders

Learning Disabilities in Adults

S.H. Horowitz, discussed learning disabilites as they affect adults. He argued that although, learning disabilities are usually diagnosed during childhood, adults live and struggle with learning disabilities as well since there is no cure for them. Therapy may be helpful in assisting individuals deal with the challenges that learning disabilities may cause (Horowitz, 2006).

Horowitz also refers to a paper written in 1985 called "Adults with Learning Disabilities: A Call to Action," which addresses facts about learning disabilities across the lifespan. While this paper was written about 25 years ago, Horowitz claims that the following facts from the paper are still true for adults with learning disabilities (Horowitz, 2006):

  1. Learning disabilities are both persistent and pervasive across the life span. Also, the manifestations of a learning disability may change across the individuals life span.
  2. There is a lack of research concerning learning disabilities with adults. As a result, there has been misuse and misinterpretation in regards to adult with learning disabilities because the assessments in which the adult goes through are usually meant for younger children.
  3. Older adolescents and adults do not have access or are denied proper education in both the academic settings and the work place to achieve development in certain adult abilities and skills .
  4. Professionals are not usually trained in helping adults with learning disabilites.
  5. Employers do not have the awareness, knowledge of, or sensitivity to address the needs of adults with learning disabilites.
  6. Adults with learning disabilities may experience personal, social, and emotional difficulties that may affect their adapation to certain life skills.
  7. There is little advocacy concerning adults with learning disabilites.
  8. Federal, state, and private funding agencies concerned with learning disabilities have not supported program development initiatives for adults with learning disabilities

  • According to Horowitz, students who graduate high school have an assortment of options available to them to include attending a 2-year community college, a 4-year university, a vocational training program, or an apprenticeship. Students with learning disabilities face challenges in regards to the realistic options that are available to them. About 39% of students with a learning disability drop out of school without receiving a high school diploma. Only 13%, compared to the 53% of students who do not have a learning disability, will attend some form of continued education after graduating high school. While these statistics are specifically concering students, it does reflect some of the challenges that young adults with learning disabilites are facing today (Horowitz, 2006).
  • If an adult suspects that they might have a learning disability but has never been diagnosed or tested for one, then that adult can find assistance by having some sort of assessment done by a qualified professional. The assessment procedure can vary depending on the setting in which it is given (such as a community college, vocational setting, or other basic adult education programs). There are usually three stages to the assessment: evaluation, diagnosis, and recommendations. The evaluation includes a screening and should obtain all relevant information about the individual in question. The diagnosis is a statement on the specific learning disability in which the indiviudal may have. The recommendations should be focused in regard to the individuals employment, education, and daily living (Learning Disabilities Association of America [LDA], 2010).
  • Adults should be assessed according to their age, experience, and career objectives; and regardless of their diagnosis, the adult should know more abou themselves, have a better idea of their strengths and weaknesses, and feel better about themselves (LDA, 2010).
  • According to the LDA (2010), adults who find themselves in need of an assessment or who feel they need to be assessed can look to the following for help:

    • Learning Disabilities Association of America, often listed with the name of the city or county first
    • adult education in the public school system
    • adult literacy programs or literacy councils
    • community mental health agencies
    • counseling or study skills center at a local college or university
    • educational therapists or learning specialists in private practice
    • guidance counselors in high schools
    • International Dyslexia Association
    • private schools or institutions specializing in learning disabilities
    • special education departments and/or disability support service offices in colleges or universities
    • state Vocational Rehabilitation Agency
    • University-affiliated hospitals

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