People with non-apparent disabilities are the largest number of individuals with disabilities. It is important for youth service practitioners to have a basic understanding of how to (a) identify; (b) screen; (c) connect to formal diagnosis, if necessary; (d) provide appropriate accommodations; and (e) guarantee that support services are accessed in order to assist youth in the career preparation process.
According to the US Department of Education, of the approximately six million children in special education programs in the United States, almost one half, or 2.9 million, have learning disabilities. Further, there are several studies that suggest workforce development programs, and particularly those focused on literacy, may include a substantial proportion of participants (ranging from 50% to 80%) with learning disabilities. Based on the high prevalence of youth with learning disabilities and the fact that the well being of youth with mental health needs are of increasing national concern, it is important for workforce development programs to learn how to serve individuals with non-apparent or hidden disabilities.
This guide provides information on the range of hidden disabilities, identifying or diagnosing specific learning disabilities, and providing accommodations and support services to young people with hidden disabilities, as well as additional resources and references on the subject.