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Understanding WISC IV for ADHD child


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tigger-too October 5, 2009


Our daughter was diagnosed with ADHD about 4 years ago and is now 10.5 years old. We tried medication for a short period, but have given this up in favour of environment and behavior management. Our challenge is she appears really bright, but suffers with short term / working memory and writing things down. Any advice on her WISC IV interpretation and where we / the school should focus would be appreciated.
Verbal Comprehension
Similarities 14
Vocabulary 14
Comprehension 9

Perceptual Reasoning
Block Design 12
Picture Concepts 14
Matrix Reasoning 14

Working Memory
Digit Span 8
Letter-Number Seq. 12

Processing Speed
Coding 5
Symbol Search 9

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Psych523 December 9, 2011


"The reason I ask about your daughter's age at the time of the WISC was because certain portions (subtests like Block Design and Coding, I believe) have no time limits for kids under age 8, but there are bonuses given for quick completion at older ages. Since it's been almost 3 years, I'd really push for the public school to do a comprehensive evaluation of its own now, and I'd definitely want to see them give not just an IQ test, but also an achievement test like the WIAT, and the TOWL, since written language is clearly an area of difficulty for her."

I just wanted to clarify that this is not true. The timing is the same for all children (the WISC is normed for ages 6-16). Block design begins with a 30" time limit, and progresses to a 120" time limit as difficulty increases. The last six questions do have up to three bonus points awarded for speedier completion. The time limit for coding is 120", regardless of age. It works out because the WISC is so age-sensitive; it is not necessary to change the time limits around. There are too many things to remember when administering the test as it is!

Also, I very much agree with your sentiment regarding also giving an her an achievement test. Unfortunately, it seems that this dual-testing is often only done in two cases: 1) if mental retardation is expected and 2) if a mere lack of motivation is expected (there will be a significant difference, with IQ being higher than achievement). It would be worth a shot, and may help identify some strengths and weaknesses. I hope the WISC report identified some strengths and weaknesses? If not, the data collected can be used for this purpose, and SHOULD be used for this purpose.

If it hasn't been done already, another test such as perhaps the Conners (a very simple rating scale administered to parents/guardians and teachers) may identify some other facets of the issues.

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healthy11 October 6, 2009


There are several parents on this forum: www.millermom.proboards107.com who are trying programs like CogMed, but there doesn't seem to be any concensus about the long-term benefits of those programs yet.
Hypermobility issues can certainly have an impact on fine motor tasks, but as children get older, if remediation efforts like "Handwriting Without Tears" have not improved handwriting, then compensatory approaches like assistive technology training (for example, keyboarding and/or use of voice recognition software) should be included in IEP goals.
Greatschools also has a "Struggling With Writing Group" that you might want to join, at http://community.greatschools.net/groups/12817

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tigger-too October 5, 2009


The Ed Psych works for the local authority.

On a separate note, I have recently been reading up a bit more about working memory training (aka cognitive training?) as another possible aid and I'm interested if anyone has any experience in this area. This also ties in with Berninger and Winn not-so-simple view of writing (2006) which places working memory at the core of writing function.

Co-incidently our daughter also scores quite highly on the hyper-mobility scale which are another sub-group of people who can sometimes struggle with written work.

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healthy11 October 5, 2009


It's actually surprising that the public school took your educational psych's result on the WISC and simply qualified your daughter for an IEP with that. Public schools only have to "consider" outside private evaluations, and not agree with them. (Most schools don't agree.) I do believe the school should do a triennial re-evaluation and it would be in your daughter's best interest to have another IQ test, as well as the achievement testing and TOWL, at a minimum...

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tigger-too October 5, 2009


healthy11 - thanks once again for a quick reply, please refer to your mail for a more detailed reply. I will try and request some fresh tests and need to try and understand which ones best further expose her strengths and weaknesses. When I mentioned the possibility of a retest 6 months ago the initial reaction from the educational psychologist was that the results don't really change much in this time.

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healthy11 October 5, 2009


The reason I ask about your daughter's age at the time of the WISC was because certain portions (subtests like Block Design and Coding, I believe) have no time limits for kids under age 8, but there are bonuses given for quick completion at older ages. Since it's been almost 3 years, I'd really push for the public school to do a comprehensive evaluation of its own now, and I'd definitely want to see them give not just an IQ test, but also an achievement test like the WIAT, and the TOWL, since written language is clearly an area of difficulty for her.
Can you clarify what you meant by her just having one more year before high school? I'm still puzzled by that statement, but whenever your daughter heads to high school, you'll want to have accommodations like extended time already in place on her IEP, so when you apply for SAT/ACT college testing accommodations, she'll be more apt to get them.

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tigger-too October 5, 2009


Our daughter was 8 years old (just) when she took the WISC IV test. Her reading age is approx 3 years ahead, as a layperson I would say her comprehesion is very good, she is able to recognise context and similarity between words. She does have an IEP which is currently under review. She can be very creative with text if you sit with her 1-2-1 but has great difficulty with the whole process otherwise. I understand this is in part tied into her challenges with working memory. She goes to a public school.

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healthy11 October 5, 2009


Was your daughter 8 years old at the time of the WISC, or not quite? The way the test is administered varies depending on a student's age, and testing of younger children is considered less reliable than that of older students. It certainly seems like the WIAT and TOWL would've been valuable tests to do, given your daughter's writing difficulties.

I'm a bit puzzled by your statement that your daughter is now age 10.5, but you say that you want to make the best of her last year before high school? What grade is she currently in? Is it at a public school, or a private school? If it's public, does she have an IEP? Does she have an AT (assistive technology) goals? I'm not from NY and am not sure what level 1 gifted area means, but does it entitle her to be in a special program? If so, did they refuse to admit her, or ? It's really difficult to advise you, without knowing more....

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tigger-too October 5, 2009


The WISC IV report was carried out by an Educational Psychologist who met with ourselves, the school and monitored our daughter in lessons before interviewing her and running the WISC assessment. I am not aware of any other tests done - I had formally requested this test to get it done even though she was already diagnosed with ADHD and having significant problems recording information at school. She has had other problems being double incontinent so we have been seeing other specialists including clinical pschologists and school doctors who have crossed over with monitoring her ADHD problems. The WISC report was done about 2.5 years ago. I will look at these other groups you suggested - many thanks. We have gone through 3 school heads and 3 special needs co-ordinators so it can be challenging to keep things moving forward. Our concern is making the best of the last year before high school. Depending on what you read, her scores appear to place her in the level 1 gifted area. Through discussion, I believe she is often under challenged at school the only solution is she apparently has extra activities she can do, but this depends on her 'being aware' which is not always the case.

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healthy11 October 5, 2009


Hi. I have a bright son with ADHD, and he also struggles with working memory and writing issues. Your daughter's profile, with low scores in digit span and coding, seem to support what you say.
When was the WISC with the above scores taken? Who administered it? Was it part of a triennial review of an IEP? Were there any other tests given at the same time, like achievement tests, or a TOWL (Test of Written Language)?
No single test can form the basis of any evaluation or diagnosis, so that's why additional information is necessary. I invite you to join Greatschools Learning and Attention Difficulties Group at http://community.greatschools.net/groups/11554, and also the "2e" or "twice exceptional" group at http://community.greatschools.net/groups/16042 for additional support and information.



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