Determining When to Disclose One's Learning Disability
Self-disclosure is a critical issue for adults with learning disabilities. An adult may find it helpful to reveal his or her LD for many reasons, including the following:
- It may be needed so that the adult can access rights provided by Section 505 and the ADA. These laws protect only those adults who have documented disabilities. Click here for more on Legal Issues.
- It helps provide a context for employment, community involvement, and personal relationships. Self-disclosure can help employers, colleagues, and family members better understand and support the efforts of adults with LD. Click here for tips on disclosure related to jobs.
- It can be a mechanism for establishing independence that is central to the adult years. Adults who disclose their learning disabilities in appropriate contexts can gain the kind of counsel and assistance that will allow them to function in more self-sufficient ways. It is consistent with the concept of empowerment for people with disabilities. Openness about one's learning disabilities can demonstrate self-acceptance, a growing self-esteem, and a willingness to take charge of one's own life. Understanding the learning disability is key. Click here to learn more.
- It requires introspection, which is key to an adult's ability to adjust to a variety of environments and circumstances.It is part of the larger picture of self-advocacy. Adults who are able to reveal their learning disabilities are more likely to be able to speak out in their own behalf and to persist in getting the services and assistance that are within their rights. Click here for more on self-advocacy.
Although the benefits of self-disclosure can be great, there are also risks. How and when to self-disclose is a matter of real importance, and it is crucial for adults with LD to think through the many issues involved.
- They need to understand what learning disabilities are in general and specifically how they themselves are affected. They need to understand the difference between LD and mental retardation so that they can deal with the tendency to confuse the two conditions. Most importantly, the adult with LD should know that the decision to self-disclose is his or hers alone.