Learning Disability Assessment Program
UMass Medical School's Disability Evaluation Services and its agency partner, the Department of Transitional Assistance, launched the Learning Disability Assessment Program in 2005. While the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 requires recipients of public benefits to work, except parents with very young children, some individuals have undiagnosed learning disabilities that may prevent them from obtaining and retaining a job. The Learning Disability Assessment Program offers Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients the opportunity to participate in a voluntary evaluation process. This personalized approach identifies learning disabilities and provides strategies to help participants overcome challenges that may otherwise prevent them from obtaining gainful employment.
Workers in the Department of Transitional Assistance screen individuals ages 19 and older for potential learning disabilities. After giving consent, appropriate candidates speak with a trained Disability Evaluation Services professional, who gathers information about their educational background, previous vocational experience, preferred learning style, medical history, motor skills, and hobbies.
A psychologist from our provider network also performs a comprehensive, clinical diagnostic evaluation that includes information regarding the following:
- Intelligence and achievement test results
- Learning disability diagnosis, if present
- Other significant findings
Together with the Learning Disability Assessment Program vocational rehabilitation counselor, the Learning Disability Assessment Program psychologist develops a report based on specific test results and pertinent personal information. The report outlines and summarizes the findings regarding the individual's vocational strengths and weaknesses, employment challenges, and appropriate job opportunities, and develops recommendations and strategies to assist the client in successfully maintaining employment. The client and the Department of Transitional Assistance receive the final report, which is utilized to design an individualized employment services program.
The keys to the success of Disability Evaluation Services' Learning Disability Assessment Program include
- Personalized approach that fosters optimal understanding of each case
- Detailed and comprehensive evaluations by community-based providers
- Experience with community service providers and resource development
- Research and analysis of the state and federal special projects
- Coordination, collaboration, and communication among all involved parties