Strategies for Managing a Learning Disability as an Adult

Schools support students with learning disabilities in math, reading, and writing. But once you’re an adult, that support is gone. Yet, you’re still expected to carry out professional roles requiring these skills. As an adult, learning disabilities can interfere with workplace performance, as well as self-esteem and social relationships. Where can you turn for help managing a learning disability as an adult?

Understanding Learning Disabilities

A learning disability is a neurological disorder that affects some of the brain’s abilities. It can’t be cured, so no one should expect that you can get over it. Instead, support and intervention can help you manage the learning disability for a successful career and life.

Types of learning disabilities include:

  • Dyslexia: Affects reading and language processing
  • Dyscalculia: Affects math and numbers
  • Dysgraphia: Affects handwriting and fine motor skills
  • Oral/Written Language Disorder: Affects reading or language comprehension
  • Non-verbal: Affects interpretation of nonverbal cues

Strategies to Manage a Learning Disability as an Adult

These strategies can help adults live with a learning disability and thrive within their personal and professional lives.

Be Your Own Advocate

Get assessed for a learning disability by a psychologist with specialized training. This assessment identifies the correct diagnosis so you can get proper support and have documentation to share with those who may need it, such as an employer and health insurance carrier.

Then, learn more about your diagnosis through experts and resources. Develop a plan to help, which could include steps like:

  • Understanding your learning challenges and identifying possible solutions
  • Learning what you need and speaking up to receive it
  • Seeking out resources that allow you to reach your goals

Ensure Your Surroundings Facilitate Success

Talk to your loved ones and employer about your learning disability and the challenges it presents. Seek their understanding and patience, and let them know how they can help, such as certain ways to communicate. Also, gain their assistance in creating home and work environments that support you. For example, your employer may offer access to software as a critical component to help you succeed.

Take Advantage of Technology

Modern life offers many tools that support adults with learning disabilities within their jobs and lives. Utilize computer tools and software for your type of learning disability and are customized to your learning pace. Examples of assistive technology include:

  • Text to speech, such as Kurzweil 3000, or speech to text, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking
  • Talking calculators
  • Grammar software, such as Grammarly, that points out written problems and gives suggestions
  • Computers/laptops to type instead of using handwriting
  • Computer-assisted instruction that offers feedback and practice
  • Graphic organizers, such as Inspiration
  • Word prediction software, such as WordQ
  • Calculators
  • Math software

Set Realistic Goals

Develop goals for yourself that recognize the challenges your learning disability creates. Make sure the goals are specific yet also realistic and attainable. You may want to create smaller goals that help you reach a larger goal. Also, it may be helpful to ask a learning disability professional for help in setting your goals.

For example, you may set a goal of improving your reading skills and comprehension to a specific level compared to where it currently is. Try to take a small step at a time, rather than shooting for a giant leap in skill level too quickly. Smaller goals toward the larger goal could focus on obtaining assistive tools and technology, and determining how often you’ll use the technology and practice reading skills.

Resources That Can Help

Adults with learning disabilities can thrive. Despite no longer having the support of school, there are resources in place to help adults. Here are some available adult learning disability resources:

What to Do During a Mental Health Crisis

Not realizing you have a learning disability or struggling to cope with one may lead to a mental health crisis. If this happens to you, call us at Jonas Hill. Our team is here for you to help you.


Jonas Hill Hospital & Clinic, a division of Caldwell Memorial Hospital provides our community with safe, dignified and integrated care for adult patients experiencing an acute mental health need. We provide hope, treatment, and healing through a holistic program of evidence-based psychiatric treatment, team-based medical care, and education provided by engaging and dedicated professionals in a safe and healing environment. Contact us today for more information. A safe space to heal.