For Adults

Think you might have an LD or ADHD?

Check out some of our fact sheets on learning disabilities and other common/related disorders:

Self-Advocacy Guide for Young Adults

In order to be officially diagnosed with a learning disability, you need to be assessed by a member of the College of Psychologists. Not sure what to expect? Here’s a guide to the steps you’ll go through in a typical assessment.

1

Initial Interview

This interview will cover:

  • Nbirth history and early development;
  • Nlanguage and cultural background;
  • Nmedical history including vision, hearing, neurological status, illnesses, allergies, medications and current health conditions;
  • Nfamily and social history to determine social, behavioural or emotional factors or any hereditary patterns;
  • Nacademic and work history;
  • Nprevious psychological evaluations and relevant medical tests.

This gives your assessor a thorough understanding of your background, which can help determine if there are any other factors that might impact your diagnosis. You will also discuss the reasons that lead you to seek an assessment, as well as current problems and challenges, and what the assessment will accomplish.

2

Tests of Cognitive Functioning and Information Processing

According to the Canadian definition of a learning disability, individuals with an LD must have average to gifted intelligence. In order to test this, assessors use the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, or the newer WAIS-III to assess cognitive functioning. These assessments will test:

  • NShort- and long-term memory
  • NUnderstanding and communicating with others
  • NVerbal and non-verbal abstract reasoning and logic
  • NAttention span
  • NVisual perception and spatial awareness
  • NSequencing – the ability to perceive items in a specific order, and to remember that sequence
  • NRight-left orientation and fine motor dexterity
  • NOrganizational and planning skills (executive functioning)

3

Tests of Academic Achievement Levels

These tests will evaluate skills in reading, spelling, written expression, and mathematics. This includes specific skills like reading vocabulary, word recognition, phonemic awareness, math computation and programming, and the mechanical and creative aspects of writing. These detailed tests will help the assessor to outline an effective plan to remediate or compensate for academic difficulties.

Study skills, organizational and workplace skills, as well as time management, are other areas that are typically assessed along with the basic skills. Screening questionnaires may also be used to assess your perception of areas of ability and difficulty, life skills, specific academic problems, and workplace issues.

4

Social and Emotional Evaluations

This part of the assessment will determine whether social/emotional problems occur concurrently with or are secondary to learning disabilities. Anxiety, depression, poor self-esteem and attention deficit disorder are key areas to examine.

5

Feedback Interview and Written Report

Once you have finished the testing, you will have a feedback interview with your assessor. They will go through and explain your results and provide suggestions for remediation, as well as strategies and accommodations you can use. You will receive a full written report either during the interview, or sometime after the session. This report will include your diagnosis, as well as an outline of your strengths and weaknesses, and a guideline for your possible next steps. You will be able to ask questions both during the interview and after you’ve received the report.

Cost

The cost of assessment typically ranges from $2000 to $2500. Psychologists are usually not covered under provincial health plans. Many insurance companies cover some portion of psychological testing and most require a letter of referral from a physician to the psychologist or psychological associate, if covered.

Some people may be covered by the extended benefits plan of their work health insurance plan. It is sometimes possible to gain access to an assessment through an institution (college, university or hospital) or government agency (ODSP, Worker’s Compensation, Service Canada) if an individual meets their requirements and is willing to wait.

Always check cost and coverage before starting the assessment, and consider asking about a sliding scale fee structure and/or payment over time.

Benefits of an Assessment

Many adults have grown up feeling inadequate, attributing their difficulties to a general lack of ability. Knowing that there is a specific reason for their difficulties can be a great relief. A better understanding of their strengths as well as their weaknesses can be an important first step towards building self‑esteem and developing more effective coping strategies.

I’ve Been Assessed – Now What?

Many employers and schools are willing to offer accommodations for their staff and students, and you are entitled to reasonable accommodations under Human Rights legislation.

I’ve Been Assessed – Now What?

Many employers and schools are willing to offer accommodations for their staff and students, and you are entitled to reasonable accommodations under Human Rights legislation.

Possible Workplace Accommodations

  • NUse screen-reading software, which highlights and reads aloud the information on a computer screen.
  • NAllow employees to give verbal, rather than written, responses or provide speech-to-text software.
  • NAllow employees to organize their workspace as best fits their strengths and ideas for organization.
  • NColour-code materials, folders, labels, etc.
  • NPromote the use of calendars and schedulers that provide digital reminders of meetings, deadlines, upcoming tasks, etc.
  • NProvide checklists for tasks.
  • NUse flowcharts to describe steps of complicated processes.
  • NAllow the use of a voice-activated recorder to record verbal instructions.
  • NAllow the use of a voice-activated recorder to record verbal instructions.
  • NDivide large assignments into smaller tasks with specific goals.
  • NTeach the employee to “learn the ropes” by initially providing a job mentor.
  • NAllow the use of a calculator or a talking calculator if needed.
  • NProvide additional training time on new tasks or processes.

For additional support with workplace accommodations, see PATH Employment.

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