Being a beginner all over again is tough - whether you're starting a new job or the first year of college. Here are some tips on finding the social and academic support you'll need.
College & Adult
Living with a learning disability (LD) is no easy task. Throughout your life, your LD accompanies you everywhere—to the workplace, the supermarket, the bowling alley…it's always there. Adults need to understand how to manage their LD and the risks and advantages of disclosing their LD status in college, at work, and beyond.
Are you a college-bound teen who relies on assistive technology (AT) to compensate for your LD or AD/HD? As you prepare for college, it’s important to know your rights and responsibilities regarding AT accommodations as a college student. Once on campus, it’ll be up to you to advocate for your needs and take the initiative to get the AT accommodations you need to succeed.
Maintaining a long-lasting and satisfying relationship with a spouse or partner is challenging enough. But having a learning disability (LD) may make it even harder. You may want the relationship to be a stronger one, but you don't know how to make that happen. Some of the behaviors associated with your learning disability may annoy your partner, and your partner's criticism of you may cause you to feel dissatisfied with the relationship.
Many who struggle to learn as adults (and who struggled in their earlier school years) aren’t aware that they have a learning disability (LD). Other adults who were identified with LD when they were children face new challenges in managing their LD in college, on the job, and in carrying out other adult responsibilities. If either scenario describes you or someone you care about, you’ll benefit from the following information on evaluating, identifying, and managing LD in adulthood.
Learning to successfully interact with others is one of the most important parts of a child’s development. This can be yet another stumbling block for children with learning disabilities (LD): many struggle to develop the skills they need to be competent in social situations. But as a parent, you have the power to help guide your child to social success.
Whether you’re applying to a two- or four-year college, there are many important factors to consider. Use the following checklist to help you determine which college will best meet your individual needs, keeping in mind the level of support your learning disability requires.
As you and your teen look ahead to college, make sure you’re both aware of key differences between high school and college: special education services and the laws that support and protect those with learning disabilities. There are no IEP’s in college!
If you (or someone you care about) have always had a difficult time with math and spatial concepts, you may want to learn more about a learning disability called dyscalculia. Dyscalculia involves a range of math-related challenges. Below you’ll find a list of common warning signs of dyscalculia in college students and adults.
Have you always struggled with reading, spelling or writing and wondered if you (or an adult you care about) might have a learning disability (LD) such as dyslexia? It’s never too late to seek help to discover whether LD is contributing to or underlying these problems. Dyslexia is a language-based processing disorder that can impact an individual’s ability to read, write, spell and speak, as well as their social interactions and self-esteem. The following is a list of common warning signs of dyslexia in college students and adults. This list may describe struggles that have perplexed and plagued you for years!
Guiding Teens with Learning Disabilities: Navigating the Transition from High School to Adulthood is the book from former National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) Professional Advisory Board member, Arlyn Roffman. In her book, Dr. Roffman offers advice, tips, and information to help families and high school guidance and support personnel understand the extra challenges posed toward students with learning disabilities (LD) as they face the already daunting task of transitioning from high school to adulthood.
Are you a high school student who uses assistive technology (AT) in school as a way of compensating for your learning disability? Do you have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that requires your school to provide you with a personal talking word processor, an electronic keyboard, or other useful devices to help you stay organized and complete work assignments? If so, beware! Once you graduate from high school, you will most likely need to leave behind any AT equipment your school provided.
As the parent of a student with a learning disability (LD), you play a crucial role in helping your child build a successful future. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for students age 16 and older include transition services, a clear plan of coordinated activities that facilitate the student’s life after K–12 education.
There are many reasons for going to a two-year college that should be taken into consideration when deciding which direction you’d like to follow when you graduate from high school. Don’t think of a two-year college as a second-choice option or one that holds less value. Many students (both with and without learning disabilities) opt to attend a two-year community college – and benefit from the experience.
Whether you’re a junior or senior in high school or a new graduate making decisions about your future, it’s important to get some real work experience. A volunteer or paid job can help you “try out” a career field or job setting to see if it’s a good fit for you.
Senior year of high school—time to relax, coast, wait for college, right? Wrong! You may have been accepted to your college of choice, but the work doesn’t end with an acceptance letter and a trip to the mall for new sheets and jeans. How will you finance your college education? Where and when do you begin the hunt for financial aid?
We live in a world where "early" is thought to be "better," and in many ways, this mindset serves us well, especially as it applies to learning. With increasing success, we are able to focus well-deserved attention on early recognition and response to struggling preschoolers, early intervention services for young children with identified special education needs, early and well-targeted instruction to school-age students who are falling behind in skills development, and early identification of learning disabilities (LD). In an ideal world, students who struggle are able to overcome their challenges and grow to become adults who enjoy personal satisfaction, high self-esteem, self-sufficiency, and productive relationships within their families and in the general community. If only this was the case.
Some people with learning disabilities need more intensive services than a community college, university, or vocational-technical school can offer. Life Skills programs are post-secondary educational programs that help young people learn skills needed for independent living.
Living independently—managing your life on your own—is probably one of your major goals. One key aspect of independent living is managing your money: budgeting, controlling spending, balancing your checkbook, saving for major purchases, paying bills on time, banking, estimating costs and so on. Many people with learning disabilities (especially those with the math LD “dyscalculia” or ADHD) find that managing money is among the most difficult problems they face.
A student with a learning disability planning to attend college needs to take several steps to prepare for selecting the right college and for a successful college experience.
A job interview can be a stressful event. There are, however, ways that you can prepare yourself for the experience.
If you have been called for a job interview, congratulations! Your resume, letter, or phone call has gotten the employer interested in you. Your interview will allow the employer to get a better sense of whether you’re a good fit for the job. The interview is also your opportunity to learn about the job responsibilities and expectations, get a sense of how it might be to work for this employer, and discuss ways you could be a valuable employee. From the interview, you’ll determine if the job is right for you. You’re also likely to better understand how your learning disability might or might not present challenges in this job and workplace.
When parents begin planning for their child’s transition from high school to post-secondary education, it is important to remember that the concept of post-secondary education is not synonymous with college. There are many venues where education can occur, many of which do not involve a traditional four-year university.
Employers use job interviews to get a better sense of whether the applicant is a good fit for the job. The interview is also an opportunity to learn about the specific job responsibilities, the employer, and the work climate. It is an opportunity for you to determine if the position is right for you. It is also a chance to determine what challenges you might face because of your learning disability at this potential place of employment.
What Is Stress?Everyone is affected by stress and reacts to it in different ways. Stress is a way that our body responds to the demands made upon us by the environment, our relationships and our perceptions and interpretations of those demands. We all experience both “good stress” and “bad stress.” Good stress is that optimal amount of stress that results in our feeling energized and motivated to do our best work.
To identify jobs that use your skills and abilities, try the following:
- Check the Occupational Outlook Handbook. This guide allows you to explore information about many different careers.
- Read the "Help Wanted" ads in newspapers to find jobs that might tap your strengths and skills.
- Talk with people in the workforce who have interests and strengths similar to yours. Ask them about their jobs. You might even be able to spend a few hours "shadowing," or following them at work. This will give you a good sense of what their jobs are like.
- Volunteer to work in a job area that interests you. This might be a good way to find out more about a specific occupation firsthand and determine if it is right for you.
As the title of Dr. Ned Hallowell's book would suggest, these days, we all seem to be “crazy busy.”
Throw adult Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD) into the mix—and staying organized and on track can be a tall order.
You’ve gotten a job. Congratulations! Here are some suggestions for working around your learning disability so you can become a productive, valued worker.
A survey by mtvU and The Jed Foundation found that 63 percent of college juniors had been so stressed that they couldn’t get things doneat some point during the preceding three months.
You can help by acknowledging signs of stress in your children, understanding the causes and helping them determine the best course of action to reduce or redirect it. Fortunately, it’s possible to manage and maintain stress at relatively healthy levels. Here are some approaches to discuss with your child:
What is Transition Planning?
Transition planning is a process that should help ensure your child's happiness, success, and satisfaction after high school and onto further work, future education, and adulthood.
Authoritative research-based data on successful transition to post-secondary school and work settings for adolescents and young adults with LD. Information must apply to all post-secondary students (regardless of school location, graduation status, prior school experience, parental expectations, and socio-cultural factors), and address issues including: academic achievement, social-emotional development, work-related competencies, and family involvement.
The following is a transcription of the podcast, “Transitioning to College for Students With Learning Disabilities (Audio).”
This podcast features Vincent J. Varrassi M.A., LDT-C, Campus Director, Regional Center for College Students with Learning Disabilities at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck Campus and Karen Golembeski, NCLD’s Assistant Director of Educational Programs.
Mr. Varrassi discusses the planning necessary to ensure a successful transition from high school to college for students with learning disabilities.
Understanding Your Strengths
The ideal job allows you to tap your areas of strength on a regular basis. Knowing what you do best (and how you can circumvent the challenges of LD) can help you to succeed in the workplace.
If you’re in high school and you’re thinking about going to a four-year college, you’ll be happy to learn that today, more than ever before, there are many options and opportunities in post-secondary education for students with learning disabilities (LD).
There is only one way to know for certain if you have a learning disability: through a formal evaluation by a qualified professional who has been trained to identify learning disabilities. Such professionals may be clinical or educational psychologists, school psychologists, neuropsychologists or learning disabilities specialists. It is essential that the professional have training and direct experience working with and evaluating adults with learning disabilities.
Many employers will ask you to complete a job application. Your application gives the employer important information about you, including your contact details (address, telephone number, email address, etc.), education, skills, and job history. Sometimes you’ll fill out the application online and then submit it online. Other times, especially for smaller companies, you’ll print the application, fill it out in black or blue pen, and then mail or fax it to the employer. You may also visit a business and fill out an application there. However, it’s reasonable to ask if you can take an application home to complete and return later. That allows you to take your time and check your work.
If you have current documentation of your learning disability, you likely have the right to:
- Participate in educational programs without discrimination.
- Receive reasonable accommodations in courses and examinations.
- Receive reasonable accommodations in the workplace (required if there are fifteen or more employees).