First Advisor

Stephen Isaacson

Date of Publication

Winter 2-2-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Special and Counselor Education


Special Education




Learning disabled women -- Case studies, Poor women -- Case studies, Learning disabilities -- Diagnosis -- Case studies, Autonomy (Psychology), Learning disabled women -- Social aspects -- Case studies, Learning disabled women -- Services for -- Case studies



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 175 pages)


This collective case study explored the impact of a later-in-life learning disability (LD) diagnosis on women in poverty. The study focused on the perspectives of four women who were not identified with LD as children but accessed assessment services as adults receiving Oregon's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). All four reported painful awareness of learning differences as youths; as adults they voluntarily engaged in a "labeling event," furthering a process toward personal transformation and enhanced well-being initiated by their own awareness and curiosity. The women described critical social and emotional support systems and relationships that helped them integrate understanding of the LD construct, education and employment opportunities that came in the wake of the diagnosis, and decisions made regarding disclosure. Self- determination theory and interpersonal neurobiology undergird reflections on narratives and themes. Recommendations for practice include providing low-income women assessed with LD (1) access to an LD specialist; (2) case planning and case management with a strength-based focus; and (3) assistance working with the public schools for those who are parents. The study underscores the significant services provided by Oregon DHS to low-income women with learning disabilities who have not been identified by K-12 school systems and recommends that DHS undertake further quantitative and qualitative research in collaboration with a research institution.


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