How does a graduate student determine if he has a learning disability? Are there any signs to look for? At what point is it worth seeking a professional opinion?

Some people, at least, believe there are a significant number of adults who would be identified as having a learning disability if they were children now. Some of these adults are in academia, and have succeeded academically despite their disability, perhaps through developing good coping mechanisms. Never-the-less, it may be that there are other techniques they have not thought of/come across that would benefit them.

What signs might suggest that this is the case, in a context where past academic success is the norm and future academic success is the expectation?

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    Ask your M.D. for a screening. – Daniel R. Collins Nov 28 '15 at 7:22
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not specific to academia. It may be on-topic on Medical Sciences or Psychology & Neuroscience. – Wrzlprmft Nov 28 '15 at 8:10
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    @Wrzlprmft: I don't suppose we could close this one yet. This question seems to be an interdisciplinary overlap between the SE sites you've suggested and Academia.SE. It can be part of Life as a graduate student and it doesn't lie within the 'don't ask about...' part. The question seems acceptable to me. – Ébe Isaac Nov 28 '15 at 9:18
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    I think this could be made more relevant by focusing on the academic side: how to you identify a learning disability in a graduate student, who must be very intelligent and may have developed very good coping mechanisms, but maybe is still being held back from achieving their full potential. – Jessica B Nov 28 '15 at 9:36
  • A screening with a primary care doctor (for example, at the campus student health center) is a good place to start.... The type of specialist who focuses specifically on this is called an educational psychologist. Unfortunately, the testing tools used in that field are generally not available unless you buy them from the publisher. There are some checklists for specific conditions, however. Here are some useful ones: tourettesyndrome.ca/… – aparente001 Nov 28 '15 at 14:14

From http://ldaamerica.org/adults-with-learning-disabilities-an-overview/ :

Positive characteristics of adults with LD may include problem-solving skills, compensatory strategies, persistence, empathy, and outgoing personalities. Areas of difficulty include: difficulty with reading, writing and/or math; poor memory; difficulty following directions; inability to discriminate between or among letters, numbers, and/or sounds; eye-hand coordination problems; difficulty putting things in the right sequence; disorganization; and/or difficulty adjusting to change.

Determining whether an adult has a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) depends on the type of disability (e.g. Auditory Processing Disorder, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, Language Processing Disorder, Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities, or Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit). Each disability will manifest itself differently, and the degree of influence will vary by individual. In general, you will need a professional to determine whether you have said disability (see http://ldaamerica.org/adult-learning-disability-assessment-process/ ).


Going to a psychologist!! Only a person responsible for mental health and prevention of disorders can diagnose you. However, before engaging with a psychologist, a student should compare their academic progress with other graduate students from the same field. Also a student needs to know and detect what concepts are crucial in their area of study, so a psychologist can help assess how well person is capable of extending their knowledge of these topics and learning them in depth.

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