Adults with Learning Disabilities: An Introduction

Having a specific learning disability is an inherent, life long condition that can affect friendships, school, work, self-esteem or daily life. Many adults with learning disabilities have graduated from high school, college, trade schools or university, becoming successful in business, the arts or in their chosen profession.

But for many, success has not been easy. Even though they are intelligent, some adults are conditioned to believe that they are stupid, lazy and defeated, resulting in frustration, disappointment, low self-confidence and failure.

What Is a Learning Disability?

It is a disorder that affects individuals of potentially average to above average intelligence by interfering with the central nervous system and its ability to process information. Learning disabilities affect the way in which an individual takes in, remembers and understands information, as well as how an individual expresses that knowledge.

Some adults may experience problems in any or all of the following:

  • memory
  • reasoning
  • coordination
  • communication
  • social competence

Common Signs and Characteristics

Adults with learning disabilities may excel in the following areas:

  • imagination
  • creativity
  • motivation
  • perseverance
  • spoken language
  • verbal information
  • visual information
  • mathematics

Or they may have difficulty in the following areas:

  • reading, writing, spelling, communicating and calculating
  • following written instructions
  • expressing ideas in writing
  • completing job application forms
  • finding or keeping a job
  • budgeting and managing money
  • managing time and activities
  • short attention span, restlessness or hyperactivity
  • carrying out simultaneous tasks
  • remembering and following a sequence of instructions
  • breaking tasks down into segments
  • following verbal instructions
  • understanding appropriate social behaviour
  • poor coordination and spatial disorientation
  • classification and organization of information
  • problem solving strategies

How Many People Have Learning Disabilities?

You are not alone! Learning disabilities affect approximately one out of every 10 people. That totals more than 2 million Canadians.

Is It Too Late?

Before 1980, very little was done to help adults with learning disabilities. What can you do now? If solid coping skills and compensatory strategies are not developed, the learning disability may continue to interfere with work, education and social relations. By developing skills and taking advantage of new technologies, adults with learning disabilities will be able to succeed. Remember, it is never too late to ask for help!

Using Successful Strategies

You can make a difference by taking control of your life and achieving your potential.

  • develop coping strategies
  • know and manage your specific learning disability
  • find other adults with learning disabilities for sharing strategies and information
  • be assessed by a professional trained in learning disabilities (a neuropsychologist or educational psychologist, for example)
  • get counselling
  • develop your self-esteem through your strengths
  • set goals based on your abilities
  • know and use technology to compensate for weaknesses
  • know your legal rights

Things to Remember

  • having a learning disability is a condition for life
  • you are not alone
  • support and information is available
  • celebrate your uniqueness
  • never give up!

Reprinted from: http://www.ldao.ca/about_ld/adults/index.php#awithld