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Learning Disabled Adults in the Workplace

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Learning Disabilities at Work

A Man with a Disability at Work

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Learning Disabled Adults in the Workplace:

Learning disabled adults face challenges in the workplace, but they also have unique strengths that can be an advantage. Learn about how learning disabilities affect them and what can be done to support them in the workplace and increase their job satisfaction.

Many Learning Disabled Adults Were Never Diagnosed:

Before special education programs existed, students with learning disabilities were too often regarded as slow learners, mentally disabled, or lazy. Few of these students graduated from high school or continued into postsecondary education. As a result, many adults with learning disabilities were never diagnosed and did not receive appropriate instruction for their disabilities.

Advantages of Learning Disabled Adults:

Depending on the type of learning disability involved, adults experience their learning differences in various ways. Having a learning disability as an adult can be an advantage:

  • They are often creative problem-solvers;
  • Their skills in non-disability areas are just as strong as, or better than, other adults; and
  • They are frequently very resourceful and can use and adapt materials and processes in creative ways.

Disadvantages of Learning Disabled Adults:

Problems LD Adults May Face:

  • Lack of understanding and support from employers;
  • Difficulty with promotion and advancement opportunities;
  • Being forced into low-paying jobs;
  • Feelings of inadequacy; and
  • Lack of assistive technology or adaptive equipment at work.
  • Lack of technology to allow them access to continuing education courses and reading materials.

    While adults may struggle with their learning disabilities, they can achieve well with appropriate supports in the workplace.

Learning Disabled Adults Can Succeed with Appropriate Resources:

Learning Disabled adults who need support in their careers should:

  • Learn their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504, Equal Employment Opportunity Laws, and Rehabilitation Act of 1973;
  • Contact their state or local office for vocational rehabilitation;
  • Contact non-profit organizations for information and to develop a support network of other adults with learning disabilities and advocates; and
  • Take advantage of area public service agencies that offer tutoring in the area of learning disabilities.
  • Learn how to deal with discrimination in the workplace.

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