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Risks and Rewards for Adults with LD

Adults With Learning Disabilities - Risk And RewardsLearning disabilities can affect skills in listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, mathematics and reasoning skills that adults must use every day in fulfilling their roles as family members, employees and citizens. They may occur with, and be complicated by, problems in attention and social skills.

The experiences and hardships you may have had as a child with LD don't always go away during the adult years. In fact, they may hold you back from reaching your goals, even though you may not recognize it.


Recognizing the risks and rewards of having a learning disability as an adult is the first step in helping you to manage your LD and lead a successful life.


The Risks

Limited Educational Opportunities

Not all educators understand or are responsive to the needs of people with LD. When teaching methods are not appropriate, people with learning disabilities may become frustrated and experience failure. This may cause them to drop out of educational programs or make them afraid to enter other programs.


Limited Vocational Options

People with learning disabilities may have trouble finding and keeping a job. Limited literacy skills and poor organizational skills are also factors that might result in low job satisfaction and underemployment. Some employers may not understand the nature of learning disabilities or know if they have a legal responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations.



Adults with learning disabilities may misinterpret others' gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice. They may have trouble responding appropriately in social situations. This may cause some adults with LD to be isolated from others, both at work and in their communities. Adults with LD may feel inadequate and incapable. They may remember being teased, criticized, or even rejected by their peers. As a result, they may have a poor self-image and lack the confidence to try new things.


Difficulty with Independent Living

Adults with severe learning disabilities may have difficulty with tasks such as writing checks, filling out forms, taking phone messages and following directions.


The Rewards

Creative Problem-Solving

Adults with learning disabilities must learn to work around their disabilities. This experience allows them to think "outside the box," often leading to more creative solutions and imaginative answers to problems.


Outgoing Personality

Many adults with learning disabilities develop outgoing personalities in an attempt to compensate for their learning problems.


Strong Compensatory Skills

To make up for their learning disabilities, many people develop strong skills in other areas.



Often, people with LD do not give up when attempting a difficult task. Despite frustrations, they keep trying until they meet with success.



Persons with learning disabilities often provide support and understanding for others. Because they themselves have experienced the frustration that can result from having a learning disability, they can be that much more supportive of others.


Adapted from National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities. Bridges to Practice: A Research-Based Guide for Literacy Practitioners Serving Adults with Learning Disabilities, Guidebook 1 (1999): 27-30.

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