I’ve been asked a handful of times for my advice about getting officially evaluated for learning disabilities. Usually, the person is referring to themselves, but at least one was talking about their children.
With the high cost of evaluations outside of the school environment, I can understand why this is something that people may agonize over. When you’re looking at a bill for over $1,000, the reward had better be worth it.
In the US, children are protected under IDEA. They have the right to a free and adequate education, and when they’re struggling, LD evaluation should be covered. Of course, that doesn’t mean parents won’t have to fight for it.
In many cases, they will need to overcome some huge obstacles just to get the evaluation done, while others won’t. I’ve heard stories of districts refusing evaluation, and parents being forced to get it privately done.
That said, since the only way LD kids will get the help they need is to get formally identified, it’s best they be evaluated. There’s no question of that.
As with pretty much everything, adulthood complicates things. We have living expenses to think of, and that whole work/life balance thing so many of us struggle with. Between the worrying about how to pay for evaluation and trying to figure out when to fit in hours of testing, it hardly seems worth it.
Although I was diagnosed as dyslexic when I was in kindergarten, I’ve always wondered if they missed something. I held off on testing until I decided to go back to school, though, because having extra labels didn’t mean that much to me.
I plan on returning to college in August, and tomorrow, I have a consultation with a neuropsychologist to determine which testing I’ll need. If I had my original written diagnosis, I doubt I would be taking that step, though.
Unfortunately, assessment is very expensive, especially when you’re not already enrolled in a school that may be able to help with costs. Unless you have the money to spare, getting assessed as an adult may not be necessary.
But I think it could still be worth it. As we live with any unidentified difference, we naturally adjust for our challenges. Everyone does that, but when you’re part of any minority, especially an invisible one, it gets lonely fast. One of the things a diagnosis helps with is finding others who have gone through similar experiences.
Another is that it may be easier to help others help you. Once you find effective coping methods, they can then be applied to workplaces and classrooms.
A third is legal protection. In the US, LD is protected under the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act. This act is there to protect against discrimination based on ability level. Unfortunately, it does still happen, and it’s often done in subtle ways that can be hard to spot.
Fourth, if you ever decide to go back to school, the disability department will want to see your diagnosis in writing. That way, they can better help you with your accommodations.
When adults are pondering this question and ask for my advice, I usually tell them that it could help, but the decision is ultimately up to them.
I put it off until now, because the cost is so exorbitant and I don’t qualify for financial help, but I’m glad that I’ll be able to get the assistance I need from college this time around.