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WISC-IV Verbal much lower than Perceptual reasoning- could she have a LD?


Back2Work September 29, 2009


I am new to this group and thought you might be the ones to ask this question.  Have you ever seen scores like this?  My daughter's perceptual reasoning score is 27 points above her Verbal comprehension. What might this mean?

She is almost 9 and doing "fine" in 3rd grade so the school sees no problem since she is scoring well enough on her achievement tests in reading and writing.  To me she seems to have some difficulty expressing herself- explaining things either verbal or written.  Also, an odd thing I realized last night- she is trying to memorize her multiplication tables, she must pass an oral quiz at school on each number up to 12 and answer quickly.  The odd thing is that she can do this (she is working on her 3's, most kids in her homeroom class are up to the 7-8s) using the flash cards, but gets many of them wrong when she doesn't see the numbers (3x 11=  ).  She is taking a 4th grade math pull-out class, so she is very good in math.

I wonder if she might have a relative learning disability in the auditory/reading/verbal/written areas.  Have any of you experienced this?

Any insight would be welcome,


Subtest Scores on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale

for Children, 4th Edition (WISC-IV)

Verbal Comprehension Index       108 

Similarities  12 

Vocabulary  12

Comprehension  11

Information 14*

Word Reasoning   11*


Perceptual Reasoning Index         135

            Block Design  15

            Picture Concepts  17

          Matrix Reasoning  15

          Picture Completion  16 *


Working Memory Index      113

            Digit Span      10

            Letter-Number Sequencing  15

            Arithmetic      15*


Processing Speed Index     123

            Coding          12

          Symbol Search         16

          Cancellation   13*


*Scores are supplementary subtests

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healthy11 September 29, 2009

Hi. I've got a son whose PRI scores are also his highest, in the very superior range, although his lowest area is in WMI. There's over a 40 point spread. My son has ADHD, dyslexia, and dysgraphia. I'm not saying your daughter does, because you can't diagnose LDs from a single test instrument. Did they give your daughter the WIAT-II or any other tests at the time of this WISC? (and did the school administer the WISC, or a private evaluator?)

Kids who have strengths in PRI on the WISC are generally considered visual-spatial learners, and they often do best when presented with information in a "hands-on" way, rather than an auditory-sequential way. Your daughter's difficulty with oral multiplication tables doesn't surprise me in the least. Go to for starters, and also there's a great book called "Upside Down Brilliance: The Visual Spatial Learner" by Linda Silverman. It's out of print, but if you can find a copy at your local library or somewhere else, it gives an excellent perspective on children like ours!


dhfl143 September 29, 2009

Your daughter is bright.

You are saying that she is in a pull-out class in math so she does very well in math. I may be misunderstanding the term "pull out" as it relates to your school, but in my daughter's school when she was "pulled out" it was to provide her additional supports. In my experience, "pull out" was provided to students that needed extra support -- either because they are struggling and need additional interventions or because they are gifted and need more content to stay engaged.

My daughter had the same problem when she didn't see the numbers. I found that, in her case, it was that she had just memorized the picture 3 X 11 = 33 and didn't really understand the concept that stood behind those numbers. I found that it helped my daughter to understand from the concrete to the abstract. The next paragraph explains what I mean.

For example take the multiplication table for threes, when you are multiplying 3 X 1 = 3, that means that you have one set of three. So I would have her count out three and put it in a cup. Now two times three is three, twice. I would have her count out three and place it in a cup (that's one three) and then have her count out three and place it in the same cup (that's two threes). Now she would count how many pennies are in that cup when you put three in the cup twice to understand the concept that 3 X 2, is three twice, which equals or is the same as 6. We would do this for all of her three times table.

I usually teach kids their ones, two, fours, fives, nine's, and 10's first because these are easier to learn using various techniques.

One times any number is the number.

Here is a trick to learning the nine's times table:

Tens all end with the number followed by a 0, So if you are multiplying 10 X 3 it is easy to figure because you take the "3" and put a "0" behind it, which is "30".

In addition, here is a web site that provide additional resources:



michellea September 30, 2009

As the others have noted, your daughter is very bright. While it is unusual to have this must spread between VCI and PRI, it does happen, and in and of itself does not indicate a LD. In fact, most people with LD have lower processing and working memory scores as Healthy described with her son.

You can't diagnose a LD from one test. There are many realms of cognition, and the WISC gives you great information to begin exploring for strengths and weaknesses. Based on this one test, it appears that your daughter's strengths are in her ability to think in pictures and the non-verbal realm. When words are involved, he scores are much lower. But - as you see, they are very solid pushing toward the high average range.

Were any other tests given? What behaviors drove the need for testing? Tell us a bit about her early development. Did she learn to speak on time? How is her language? As part of the evaluation did she take any tests that measured language processing? Auditory processing? How is her reading? Spelling? Organization? Social Skills?

Again, from these scores it would be impossible to identify a LD. My son's scores for the VCI and PRI are very similar, but reversed. AND he has a language based learning disability. Even though his cognition in the verbal realm is superior, he has difficulty with the lower level reading and writing skills. This does not show up in the WISC. It's possible that the same is happening for your child. She is clearly superior in the non verbal skills that support math. But maybe there is a processing difficulty in a related area of cognition that gives her trouble at the lower levels of math. You would need more testing to tease this out.


Back2Work October 8, 2009

Sorry for the delay in getting back to everyone's comments, been off-line for a week!

Healthy11- the school did not administer the WISC IV and did not do WIAT-II, we paid privately to have the WISC done. She was "screened" for ADD and it was "normal", whatever that really means! I will check out the book, it sounds interesting.

dhfl143 Her pull-out is for a one grade level advancement. Thanks for the links, I've tried the nines trick before, it is pretty cool!

When my dd sees the numbers she can do the math and understands the concepts, too. It is when she doesn't see the numbers that she can't do the math. We are working on trying to teach her how to visualize the numbers/equation..., we'll see if that works.

michellea- you asked; Were any other tests given? She had two reading comprehension/fluidity tests done. She can read grade level material with accuracy and fluidity (in fact her speed in WPM was off the chart, somewhere above grade 5 when she was in 2nd grade) but, she understood very little of the factual information in what she read in most of the passages. Interestingly, she mostly got the emotions that were expressed "He was sad when.... then he was mad.... then he was embarassed, then surprised... then happy"

What behaviors drove the need for testing? Her reading scores on the NWEA test went from 91% in Spring of '08 to 54% in winter of '09 and she said she hated reading, couldn't answer the question the teacher asked about the story and she avoided reading.

Tell us a bit about her early development. Did she learn to speak on time? Yes

How is her language? Nobody would see anything "wrong" except her close family. She speaks normally but, if she is asked a complex question or tries to explain something relatively complex, such as the rules of how to play a game, it is almost impossible. She must show you how to play the game.

As part of the evaluation did she take any tests that measured language processing? No

Auditory processing? No

How is her reading? She is currently reading at a bit above grade level, which is why the school sees not "problem" that they should investigate and utilize their resources to investigate, such as further testing.

Spelling? She can learn her spelling lists, get most or all of them right, but withing a few weeks she spells them wrong again. She will mis-spell words that are printed in the instructions or are in the paragraph she read. She also won't look back in he text to find an answer to a question and will only answer using what she remembers of the story.

Organization? - not very. She is a pack rat, her room is a mess, everytime I help her organize it, it is a wreck within a few weeks. Yesterday I almost threw out a bag of "trash" that, on further inspection contained her jacket and MP3 player.

Social Skills? Seem ok, she has several friends but has been bullied a by one of her "friends"

Her lower-level math skills are good- as long as she sees the written problem. I hope to figure out a way to get further testing in terms of language processing, but figure that it is something we will have to pay for!

Thanks all for your input!


michellea October 8, 2009

I think your hunch about language and or reading issues may be right. If I were you, I would want more information about her auditory processing, sequencing, and most importantly language processing.

Some of this could be taken care of by a neuropsychological evaluation, much of it would be examined in a speech and language evaluation.

The issues you raise about her being able to organize what she wants to say, organize her room point to executive functioning issues. Difficulty with spelling and remembering math facts point to reading issues. I really think you need to follow your instincts, share this information with a team of professionals and get further diagnostic testing.


Back2Work October 8, 2009

Thanks Michaellea, I appreciate your insights and suggestions.


Brigid2 January 21, 2013

Hello Back2Work. I know this is an older post, but I'm really hoping you will still see this message! My daughter is in 3rd grade and has ALMOST IDENTICAL test scores and a very similar history. I would love to hear more about what steps you took next and if you are up to sharing what results you have found. The school feels there is no problem, but the reading avoidance and other issues are a concern to me.
Thanks for any information you can share!


user4827131 January 14, 2014

Hello Back2Work, I was wondering the same as Brigid2. I recently had my daughter tested for both gifted and LD (O believe she has some reading comprehension issues) While reading your response to everyone, I felt as if I was reading about my child. The only difference is she tends to be more of the boss then the one being bullied.

Here scores were almost identical as well.
Verbal Comprehension= 100
Perceptual Reasoning 125
Working Memory Index 102
Processing Speed 115

We also performed teh wechsler Individual Achievement test- 3rd edition. The average score is 100 with the difference of 85-115 being the average range. She scored between 87-93 in all the areas, therefore disqualifying her from receiving any support in this area. Although the school psychologist felt that her IQ may be higher then tested bc of the reading requirements (ugh).

I am truly curious what you have done to help your daughter. My child will avoid reading at all task. Like i said, I felt as if I was reading about my child while reading about yours!


user5425249 January 26, 2014

As an educational psychologist I frequently hear about school psychologists who tell parents that their children do not have learning disorders because they do not "qualify" for services. Learning disabilities can be mild, moderate or severe, and children like your daughter probably have a mild learning disability in the verbal/language/auditory processing area. The huge discrepancy between her Perceptual Reasoning and her Verbal Comprehension is significant in that the two sides of the brain have developed unevenly. Children with lower verbal comprehension skills often have difficulty comprehending what they read and hear. Considering the Superior visual spacial skills of your daughter, her academic scores between 87-93 should have been compared to the 125 visual perception standard score and not the 100 of her verbal comprehension, because that is her weak area or most likely area of disability.
You may not convince the school that your daughter should in fact have been provided services, but research shows that children who stay in the regular classroom and receive outside interventions often do BETTER than children who were placed in special ed. Having said that, you do need to get help for your daughter. You don't say how old your daughter is, but if she hates to read, that means it is difficult for her. If you are capable of teaching her yourself, get the manual Toe By Toe: A Highly Structured Multi-sensory Reading Manual for Teachers and Parents and work on it at least 15 minutes 2 times a day. Don't waste your money (approx'ly $36) if you are not going to start from the beginning and do it regularly to the end. Kids don't like it at first, but they will grow leaps and bounds in their ability to read if you stick with it. Also any reading program based on the Orton-Gillingham method is good. Those books and manuals are more expensive but worthwhile. If you can't teach your own child (and most of us have trouble in that area - we can teach someone else's child easily!!) then hire the neighborhood high schooler to come and do homework, read, and work through the reading materials mentioned above. You don't necessarily need a professional tutor to help your daughter. It is time spent on reading that counts. The more your child reads, the more she will improve, and the more she improves, the more she will like it.

Get books on CD (or audio download) and have her listen and read along with the book. Then ask her comprehension questions. If she can't answer comprehension questions, then go back to the passage and reread to find the answer. In this manner, she will improve her verbal comprehension. Find subjects she is interested in and order those books and CD's from the library, internet or book store. By listening and reading stories, she hears new vocabulary words; she can learn to pronounce words she didn't know, and she will integrate the visual with the auditory which will help develop both sides of the brain. Good luck to you.


ang1973 February 8, 2014

Hello user4827131,

My daughter's perceptual reasoning scores are also well above her other scores and I also had trouble with her not wanting to read. The first book she ever voluntarily read was the first Wimpy Kid book. She turned the light back on after bedtime to read more. I was delighted!

I have since found the following works for her, especially with her probably having a bit ADD as well:

Anything that doesn't capture her attention fully, she has trouble with. Therefore I help her find books she absolutely loves to read, even if they are below her reading level. At least she reads.

As for vocabulary - I have literally spent hours trying to explain the meaning of words with her remembering absolutely none of what I said. I have her write them on index cards and she learns them in minutes.

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