Help for Adults with Dyslexia From the Government: Complete Guide
Every adult with dyslexia is unique. Some have found their own ways to get through challenges, while others are unable to cope effectively. Sometimes, life events occur that make living with dyslexia more difficult. Work changes and new demands can make it tougher to manage.
But at times, every adult with dyslexia needs some extra support.
Government support for dyslexic adults can make a significant difference to wellbeing, financial health, and meeting the practical challenges of everyday life.
It can be hard to know where to turn when trying to access government dyslexia support for adults. What government help is there for adults with dyslexia? Is financial assistance for dyslexia available?
We look at the different forms of government support and check how they differ depending on where in the world you live. Discover how you could receive assistance to help yourself or a loved one navigate the challenges of dyslexia.
What Government Help Is There For Adults With Dyslexia in the US?
In most cases, dyslexia in adults is diagnosed in childhood. Dyslexia is a type of specific learning difficulty. It is not linked to how intelligent a person is, but it can make learning challenging. It is a life-long condition, and it affects work, social life, family life, and study. Dyslexia is often found alongside attention deficit disorder, dyspraxia, and dyscalculia.
Most government support for dyslexia in the US, both at state and federal level, focuses on children with dyslexia. But you can find forms of government assistance to assist with adult financial problems and work issues.
This includes legal protection from discrimination, and, potentially, disability benefits. In the UK, you may be eligible for financial assistance from Access to Work or the Disability Living Allowance. Other countries have their own dyslexia laws. Dyslexia is recognized in Australia under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) and the Human Rights Commission, for example, according to the Australian Dyslexia Association.
First of all, let’s look at the issue of dyslexia as a classified disability.
Is Dyslexia a Federal Disability in the US?
Americans with disabilities are protected by law from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.) The ADA defines disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, and major bodily functions.”
So, is dyslexia covered under the ADA?
Dyslexia substantially limits a major life activity: learning. It is a life-long condition with no cure. Therefore, it likely qualifies an individual to be protected under the ADA. However, it is usually down to the courts to decide if an individual’s disability affects their life enough to be covered by the Act.
Can I Get Disability Benefits For My Dyslexia?
While dyslexia in the US is normally considered a disability under the ADA, it does not usually qualify an individual for disability benefits. Children may get disability benefits for dyslexia if they meet the Social Security criteria for a neurodevelopmental disorder or when their disability is severe.
An adult may qualify by showing he or she can meet a listing in the Social Security Blue Book. Or you may be able to claim if you demonstrate there are no jobs you can do.
But under the neurodevelopmental disorders listing, an adult must experience “significant difficulties learning and using academic skills (including reading).” There must also be a severe limitation in mental functioning, for example in understanding or remembering. It is not typical that an adult with dyslexia will have severe or significant limitations in this area. Therefore, it is very unlikely that a dyslexic adult would receive disability benefits in the US based on his or her dyslexia alone.
However, if you have another impairment (mental or physical) that prevents you from working or impairs your actions, this could be combined with dyslexia to meet the criteria for disability benefits.
Can My Boss Fire Me For Being Dyslexic?
Employers in the US are legally bound not to discriminate based on a person’s learning disability. In the US, the ADA protects adults with disabilities against discrimination in the workplace and other areas of life.
Discrimination occurs when you are treated differently because of your dyslexia.
You may be passed over for promotion because you cannot pass a written test. You may not receive the same benefits as a non-dyslexic colleague. You might not get a job when the interviewer finds out you have dyslexia. Or you may be fired. If you have been fired because you are dyslexic (i.e., the employer is letting you go because he or she thinks you cannot do your job as a dyslexic adult and is only considering your dyslexia), they are discriminating against you.
Your employer must, by law, be able to provide reasonable accommodation, or adjustments, for you to do your job. This is true in the US and the UK, and in other countries too.
If you feel you have been wrongly dismissed – or treated badly – because of your dyslexia in the US, it is important to check with a lawyer on your rights and the correct procedure to take. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) exists at the federal level to enforce the ADA.
Dyslexia Laws By State
Different states have different dyslexia laws. The landscape of dyslexia law and regulation is rapidly changing, so new legislation is being passed frequently. Most state laws on dyslexia concern children and students, although state laws for adult dyslexia are also included in the legislative books.
Government Assistance for Dyslexic Adults in the UK
In the UK, the government’s Access to Work (AtW) program helps disabled people in the workplace. AtW helps employers make reasonable adjustments to the workplace for anyone with a disability.
You may be able to claim benefits from the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions if you have a child with dyslexia. This is called the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and it covers caring and mobility needs. The Personal Independence Payment is for adults with disabilities, although it can be difficult to access funds through this route.
Adult students at college or university can claim funding from the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). Dyslexia is included in the list of conditions that affect learning and student life. There are three funds, which are designed to pay for personal assistance like training, or buying equipment or specialist dyslexia tools. The allowance doesn’t need to be repaid.
Where Else Can I Find Support For Adult Dyslexia?
Government dyslexia support may be relatively scarce. But thankfully there is an increasingly wide range of resources available for adults to get the help they need to thrive in the workplace and their personal lives.
There are many informational websites run by governmental and non-governmental agencies about dyslexia in adults. National associations in the US and UK serve as dyslexia advocates and important sources of information. Local support groups can help you cope. Government organizations are also undertaking important research into dyslexia to further our understanding of the condition.
Rest assured, there is help available for adults with dyslexia. With the right support, any dyslexic person can improve their health, welfare, and job opportunities, and live a rewarding life.