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Simple Screening Tool for a Learning Disability

When a One-Stop customer experiences difficulty performing certain tasks, there is a possibility they may have a learning disability (which may not have been previously identified). One-Stop staff are not intended to be diagnosticians. However, this simple screening tool can assist One-Stop staff in determining the possible presence of a learning disability.

  • Keep in mind, a checklist is a guide, a list of characteristics. It is difficult to provide a checklist of typical characteristics of adults with learning disabilities because their most common characteristics are their unique differences. In addition, most adults exhibit or have exhibited some of these characteristics. In other words, saying yes to any one item or several items on this checklist does not mean that an individual has a learning disability. However, if the customer answers yes to most of the items, and experiences these difficulties to such a degree that they cause problems in employment, education, and/or daily living, it might be a sign that the person could benefit from further specialized assessment from a qualified professional.
  • This information should obviously be collected discreetly and in a way that respects the individuals right to privacy.
  • A specialized assessment from a qualified professional will help the One-Stop staff determine how best to support the individuals employment and training goals, and help the individual obtain additional support services. Such an assessment cannot and should not be used to exclude the individual from One-Stop services.

There are many useful checklists available from a number of organizations. The following checklist was adapted from lists developed by the following organizations: Learning Disabilities Association of America, For Employers... A Look at Learning Disabilities, 1990; ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education, Examples of Learning Disability Characteristics, 1991; The Orton Dyslexia Societys Annals of Dyslexia, Volume XLIII, 1993; and the Council for Learning Disabilities, Infosheet, October 1993

Checklist for Possible Presence of a Learning Disability

  • Does the person perform similar tasks differently from day to day?
  • Does the person read well but not write well, or write well but not read well?
  • Is the person able to learn information presented in one way, but not in another?
  • Does the person have a short attention span, impulsivity, and/or difficulty maintaining focus?
  • Does the person have difficulty telling or understanding jokes?
  • Does the person misinterpret language and/or have poor comprehension of what is said?
  • Does the person have difficulty with social skills?
  • Does the person misinterpret social cues?
  • Does the person find it difficult to memorize information?
  • Does the person have difficulty following a schedule, being on time, or meeting deadlines?
  • Does the person get lost easily, either driving and/or moving around large buildings?
  • Does the person have trouble reading maps?
  • Does the person often misread or miscopy?
  • Does the person confuse similar letters or numbers, reverse them, or confuse their order?
  • Does the person have difficulty reading the newspaper, following small print, and/or following columns?
  • Is the person able to explain things orally, but not in writing?
  • Does the person have difficulty writing ideas on paper?
  • Does the person reverse or omit letters, words, or phrases when writing?
  • Does the person have difficulty completing job applications correctly?
  • Does the person have persistent problems with sentence structure, writing mechanics, and organizing written work?
  • Does the person spell the same word differently in one document?
  • Does the person have trouble dialing phone numbers or reading addresses?
  • Does the person have difficulty with math, math language, and math concepts?
  • Does the person reverse numbers in a checkbook and have difficulty balancing a checkbook?
  • Does the person confuse right and left, up and down?
  • Does the person have difficulty following directions, especially multiple directions?
  • Does the person appear to be poorly coordinated?
  • Is the person unable to tell you what has just been said?
  • Does the person hear sounds, words, or sentences imperfectly or incorrectly?

Locating a Qualified Professional

To find a qualified professional who can assess whether an individual has a learning disability, One-Stop staff should begin with the resources available for assessment from various One-Stop partners, including Vocational Rehabilitation, education, and others. The resource section of this manual contains a listing of learning disability resources that can provide referrals to professionals qualified to conduct adult-appropriate assessments.

Note: There are many useful checklists available from a number of organizations. For example, an alternative to this checklist is the Learning Needs Screening Tool (pdf) developed by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

Written by:

Institute for Community Inclusion