I noted that it is inadvisable to inform a person that he/she might have a learning disability. So how can we approach a writing student to do an "informal" assessment, or to let them know about the testing and resources available to them here at CSU? Authors from several sources offer these kinds of guidelines:
Avoid the word "disability." It can be effective to talk to the student about different learning styles, and ask her what kinds of situations learning or writing make learning or writing difficult, and also when she feels most capable.
It helps to be casual, conversational, and kind. You do not want to make this a "big deal," even if you think that this student's awareness of her potential learning difference could greatly change her ability to have success in college. The following are "lead-ins" provided by several of your colleagues:
"There is a great place on campus that you can visit where they work with you to figure out your learning style, so you can start to use some different strategies for studying and writing that are best for you."
"We all learn differently, only some ways of learning are seen as ‘standard’ and so classes don't always accommodate all of the different styles -- but you can find ways of compensating for this."
"I am a very visual learner; I have to draw pictures of ideas, of new ideas, or outlines in order to get the most out them. You seem like you are more of an "hearing" learner, since you like to have things read aloud rather than written down."
Meet in a private and confidential setting.
Listen attentively and avoid talking too much.
Keep note-taking down to a minimum; you don't want the student to feel like a case study subject.
Follow the verbal and non-verbal cues the student gives you in order to determine whether you should continue with this approach.
Avoid making any judgmental, or for that matter "remedial" comments.
Be tactful, but honest.
Ask open-ended questions.
Remain relaxed and avoid defensiveness and sarcasm.