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Adults with Learning Disabilities

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Adults with Learning Disabilities

The field has not quite reached consensus on definitions of LD, and there are professionals as well as members of the public who do not understand them or believe they exist. For example, in a Roper (1995) survey of 1,200 adults, 85% associated LD with mental retardation 66% with deafness, and 60% with blindness. In Rocco's (1997) research, faculty "questioned the existence of certain conditions or if they existed, the appropriateness of classifying the condition as a disability" (p. 158). However, most definitions describe learning disabilities as a group of disorders that affect the ability to acquire and use listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or math skills (Gerber and Reiff 1994; National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center 1995a; National Center for Learning Disabilities 1997). These difficulties vary in severity, may persist across the lifespan, and may affect one or more areas of a person's life, including learning, work, and social and emotional functioning.

Federal regulations for implementing the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act use the term "specific learning disabilities" disorders in one or more central nervous system processes involved in perceiving, understanding, and using verbal or nonverbal information (Gerber and Reiff 1994). "Specific" indicates that the disability affects only certain learning processes. Although adults with LD consistently describe being labeled as stupid or slow learners (Brown, Druck, and Corcoran in Gerber and Reiff 1994), they usually have average or above average intelligence.

People with learning disabilities are the largest segment of the disability population, and growing numbers of col...

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..., DC: NALLD, 1995b. (ED 387 988)

Reiff, H. B.; Ginsberg, R.; and Gerber, P. J. "New Perspectives on Teaching from Successful Adults with Learning Disabilities." Remedial and Special Education 16, no. 1 (January 1995): 29-37. (EJ 497 555)

Riviere, A. Assistive Technology: Meeting the Needs of Adults with Learning Disabilities. Washington, DC: NALLD, 1996. (ED 401 686)

Rocco, T. S. "Hesitating to Disclose." In Proceedings of the 16th Annual Midwest Research-to-Practice Conference in Adult, Continuing, and Community Education, edited by S. J. Levine, pp. 157-163. East Lansing: Michigan State University, October 1997.

Roper Starch Worldwide, Inc. Learning Disabilities and the American Public. Roper Starch Worldwide, Inc, 1995. (ED 389 101)

Telander, J. E. "The Adjustment of Learning Disabled Adults." Ph.D. diss., Biola University, 1994. (ED 372 586)

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the field has not yet reached consensus on definitions of ld, and there are professionals and members of the public who do not understand them or believe they exist.
  • Explains that successful adults with ld face challenges in education, employment, daily routines, and social interactions, but are able to make successful life adjustments.
  • Explains that adults with ld need a range of skills and abilities to manage their disabilities in education, training, and employment situations.
  • Cites gadbow, dubois, and reiff, in learning disabilities in adulthood: persisting problems and evolving issues.
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