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Please help interpret Wisc-IV scatter? IEP coming


Hope77 March 21, 2011

Hi, my son is 7 1/2 years old and currently in the first grade.
He was retained in kindergarten and still struggles with reading, phonemic awareness, and spelling. He had history of language delay and at age four was identified as having a phonological disorder and worked with a SLP. He has not received any speech at school because he had passed every screening with the minimum score required. We are in the process of having him evaluated at Children's Hospital to rule out Auditory Processing Disorder. The school agreed to administer cognitive testing to assist the Audiologist, to rule out other Specific Learning Disabilities, and to assess his strengths/weaknesses. He was given the WISC-IV and there was a 34 point difference between his VCI and his PRI. The school "cautioned" his FSIQ but then averaged it and compared it to the WIAT-III and determined he did not qualify for Specific Learning Disability. My son did qualify for Speech/Language Services because of a rank of 8 on The Expressive Language Test (one standard deviation below the mean)
Though I am happy they found he qualified for speech, I am concerned that the school used his "cautioned" FSIQ to rule out other learning disabilities. I am afraid to set up IEP without more comprehensive testing.

If any one has any insights on his scores and what the discrepancies could indicate, I would greatly appreciate it.

Here are his scores:
WISC-IV FSIQ-108 70% - significant difference in VCI/PRI

VCI 95 37%

PRI 129 97%
Block Design -16
Picture Concepts-12
Matrix Reasoning-16

WMI 102 55%
Digit Span-10
Letter-Number Sequence-11

PSI 97 42%
Coding-7 (low average)
Symbol Search-12

WIAT-III- Total achievement-105 63%

Basic reading composite-102 55%
Total Reading Composite-104 61%
Oral Language Composite-105 63%
Mathematics Composite-
basic skills & oper.119 -90%
Math Fluency- 111 -77%
Written Expression Composite-91 -27%
Listening Comprehension 108
70th Average
WIAT_III Subtest scores
(Receptive Vocabulary) 113
81st Average

(Oral Discourse Comp) 99
47th Average

Early Reading Skills 101
53rd Average

Reading Comprehension 102
55th Average

Math Problem Solving 122
93rd Above Average

Alphabet Writing Fluency 89
23rd Average

Sentence Composition 91
27th Average

(Sentence Building) 102
55th Average

(Sentence Combining) 83
13th Below Average

Word Reading 96
39th Average

Pseudoword Decoding 111
77th Average

Numerical Operations 112
79th Average

Oral Expression 102
55th Average

(Expressive Vocabulary) 93
32nd Average

(Oral Word Fluency) 118
88th Above Average

(Sentence Repetition) 96
39th Average

Oral Reading Fluency 88
21st Average

Spelling 101
53rd Average

Math Fluency-Addition 108
70th Average

Math Fluency- Subtraction 113
81st Average

Told-P:3 Total 93


ELT -78 8% one standard dev.below mean

Metalinguistics Total-83
Generating examples-87
Id Categories-103
Defining Categories-89
Generating examples-69

Also CogAt Results last year
Verbal-89 25% 26/44
Quantitative-102-73% 34/44
Nonverbal-139 99% 44/44

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TeacherParent March 21, 2011

I would try to connect with other parents in the school to see what services the school has provided their children and how happy those parents are with the provided services. Yes, your district is trying to pull a fast one but it's not an uncommon stunt they're pulling.
Many children in any school would benefit from extra services and schools spend their time and energy trying to cut down on the numbers of children getting extra services.
I would not be worried about what exactly everything means and I wouldn't feel it necessary to wait until you do to begin an IEP. IEPs tend to be filled with words and long sentences that usually aren't very specific to any child's needs. My own son had/has several learning disabilities - his school wrote a long IEP but it had more words than substance and in my experience IEPS often have more words than substance.

I would do this - I would keep my ear to the ground every year to hear about next year's teachers. I would go and visit all of the possiblities for next year - spend time in their classrooms and then request the teacher you feel is the best match for your son. There are teachers who will be better teachers for your son and you'll be able to tell if you visit the classrooms. Ask other parents particularly other parents whose children have learning differences. Ask them what teachers worked well with their children. Any language-delayed child could deserve to work with a speech pathologist on a weekly basis. Anything they will do or can do to give him extra attention with his reading skills would be great.
The other concern is how will they test him and grade him - we want to protect his self-esteem as much as possible. Extended time on tests if possible can't hurt. Reduced homework? Ideally you'd want him with a teacher who already knows that children are fragile and who cares about his level of confidence and works to help him feel confident.
And at home - read aloud to him every night - 15-20 minutes to give him an edge. And he should be reading every night in a book that's easy for him - another 15 -20 minutes every night. You read from the harder book aloud and he reads silently in the easier book. He needs that practice and that language stimulation. In the car, listen to books on tape - you can rent them from the library.
In summer, keep it all up - all the reading, the tapes - keep it fun and light-hearted but keep it up.
Good luck.


Hope77 March 22, 2011

Thanks TeacherParent,
We do a lot of extra reading at home (over breakfast, after school and at bedtime). I also do a lot of creative games with him to keep him engaged in learning the entire day without him "knowing" so to speak. I agree that it is so important to keep learning fun and to make sure the child's self esteem doesn't suffer. He also has been in a specialized reading group at school since kindergarten 4x a week and is not making the gains expected which is another reasons the school administered the test. My son is an extremely hard worker and so sweet. His deficits are always before him at school while his talents unfortunately are rarely recognized. He is very good with mathematical concepts, shape manipulation, taking apart things and understanding how they work. He loves Legoâ??s and desperately wants a Neocube. He understands multiplication but is slow (but accurate) in basic addition. He is actually asking me for more Math homework. He has always had a complex learning curve which has been very difficult to understand let alone express. Because he had hit all of his other milestones early, my concerns about his language delay were often met with reassurance rather than direction or the implications of what it may hold in the future. I feel terrible that he may not have made the connections he needed to early on with language because of what I didn't know to do.
Had I been more educated or assertive maybe he wouldn't be struggling the way he is now. I am not alone though and trying to stay productive on what I can do now for him. The school also was not able to identify his language disability (even though I was now assertive) by conventional means because he had passed the screenings every time. Thus he lost two more years of valuable speech/language services he desperately needed. This is why I am here, not to place blame, but to do everything within my power to help my son and try to not let him slip under the radar again. I am trying to make this portrait of numbers meaningful to better understand his learning style to teach him more efficiently. By under estimating his talents and his weaknesses and combining the two may prove very destructive to his most valuable asset which is his perseverance and love of learning. His self esteem is breaking down and he is very cognizant of his academic achievement in relation to his peers. He is in first grade already worrying about being unintelligent, being held back again and as a result becoming a perfectionist. Without meaningful interpretation and knowing if he has receptive language issues too (or other learning disabilities) how can we design an IEP? I will try your other suggestions and I apologize for the painfully long post this is all uncharted waters for me and I am afraid to make mistakes.


TeacherParent March 22, 2011

Your son in many ways sound classically dyslexic to me - based on your description. Dyslexics tend to be very good with their hands and good with putting things together. One of my own sons is dyslexic.

School however does not value skills like putting things together or working well with our hands. It tends to emphasize speaking, writing, reading and attentional skills and to judge children on those several skills.

Your son's gap between VCI and PRI is a large one - but that shouldn't puzzle you or the school. It happens. Any child and certainy dyslexics can be weak in both their receptive and expressive language skills. Dyslexia means a weakness in language of which reading a language is only one part.

That your son has such a strong PRI is great - it bodes very well for his future and it means he's likely much brighter than his Full Scale IQ score is suggesting. Your son's overall scores can be understood in the simple light of his weakness in language areas and his strength in reasoing.

How to remediate that? By doing exactly what you're doing. How can a school remediate it? All of the many scores you give are far less important than the overall scores. He's scoring in the 99th (!) percentile for nonverbal - wow! He's likely quite bright but also likely has a considerable weakness in language. Overall his intelligence will help him to compensate for his weaknesses. I didn't tell my son he was dyslexic until he was in 6th grade - I might not wait as long if your son were mine particularly if he's asking questions as to 'is he dumb?' No, but he has a learning style and profile all his own and Nature gave him a great strength but also gave him a certain weakness.

There's no magic any school district has up their sleeve. Any dozen different children each with different testing results will yet be given very similar IEPs. The delay in recognizing the level of language abiities your son has did no harm - not to worry. Any mother who's reading with her son daily is only able to do good so it's clear you are - don't beat yourself up.
And don't let him beat himself up. He may not grow up to be a trial lawyer and argue cases in court but he may grow up to be a great engineer building new bridges. (my dyslexic son lived for Legos and K'nex) The best way to know what you can get out of this school district is to connect with other parents who've gotten services from the district.

Sadly children with the profile that your son has and my son still has at age 26 have to struggle - they don't fit the mold and as mothers we have to bear up with that and support them the best we can. There are some schools out there that do a better job than others and there are definitely some teachers out there who do a better job than others especially with children with a big seeming split between their VCI and PRI. Find those teachers and make sure he's in their class - it's better medicine than any IEP and its false promises can ever be.
Good luck.


esesos March 22, 2011

Wow. A difference of over 2 standard deviations is significant. Have you the results fron the audiologist? The full scale IQ is solidly average- but there is nothing typical or average about your son's cognitive profile.
The written expression composit of the 27% is very low compared to other subtests of verbal cognitive ability. That suggests a problem with orthography- a disability with written expression that is due to a sensory processing disorder. It is dysgraphia. Read about dysgraphia. I suggest that you get him using a keyboard, and that he have OT to support handwriting specifically for dysgraphia. Also, I noticed sentence combining as comparatively low- does he have difficulty with the pragmatics of language? How does he do communicating with peers?

Now let's talk about gifted/learning disabled kids. None of his "low" scores are in themselves significantly below average- with the exception of the written expression subscore in the 27%.

But, the 99% is a VERY Superior IQ. This child needs careful monitoring. He has a great intellectual gift; don't let the teachers- who are not well equipt to understand this great potential- well, in plain English- mess him up. It is not at all uncommon for intellectually gifted children to develop with a very UNeven cognitive profile.

Are there engineers or Mathematicians in your family? Well, anyway there is now! Remeber: Albert Einstein was not normal.

I have a hunch that a word processor will open up his verbal ability. You should have a neuropsychologist interpret his scores and further advice you. None of his teachers are likely to be anywhere near as intelligent as your son. How exciting! But it won't be easy. Gifted kids don't fit in.
Provide him with math and other enrichment activities to feed his marvelous mind. Don't worry that it will detract from reading, or make him more different from other kids. He is different, his path in life is different, and I'm sure that with understanding, you will be able to support the special growth of this wonderful child.

I am a special education advocate, and my website is

Best of luck. Don't let the school try to cram your son into a box- his brain is way too big!


Hope77 March 30, 2011

Thank you Sienna,

They do not consider him gifted because of his one subtest score in picture concepts despite his scores in the 99th percentile on the Cogat.
I am not sure if his language disability depressed this score a little because I've been told that children who do well on this, also tend to have a high VCI. If his scores had been reversed( a high VCI and low PRI)
I think their views would be different. His VSL profile just doesn't match up with conventional school teaching techniques. I am worried because his self esteem is breaking down. He so desperately wants to be recognized for something he is good at. I am not looking to have him placed in their Gifted program if it is more designed for children who have high acheivement, fast paced, and good with language because that may prove to be more overwhelming to him. The main reason I want to know if he may be twice exceptional is because I know first hand the negative effects of perfectionism in gifted children and with the added frustration of a language disability hindering his ability to express what he knows compounds the issue. I want to be able to give him the support he needs, strategies to cope, and understand his learning profile before the negative seeds germinate and sprout into bigger issues. Any suggestions would be appreciated!


PsychJD April 14, 2011

Make sure you have him retested when he is 10 or older. Generally we see that one's IQ score is more reliable at this older age.

But in looking at his scores-- the significant discrepancy between the PRI and VCI makes the FSIQ noninterpretable. The higher of the two should be used as a estimate of the child's cognitive ability-- so the PRI score, if determined to be unitary (that there is not significant scatter among subtests), should have been used to determine if a significant discrepancy between cognitive and academic scores exists.

Part of the reason is because highly intelligent and gifted kids can also have a learning disability. Their average performance can mask this learning disability. These kids' learning needs are especially unique. They are the ones often in danger of feeling alienated, being overlooked, not recognizing their potential and eventually not caring about school. I would encourage that he invest in his area of interest to maintain his love of learning. Help him to find a intrinsic motivation-- that learning new things is fun, its not about just grades and test scores. Have him join clubs like Odessy of the Mind, science camps, math leagues, etc. to keep him involved and interested. If you can, contact a gift teacher for their advice. These teachers are very knowledgable about educating gifted kids with and without learning disabilities.

His involvement in extracurricular activities is especially beneficial as it gives teachers a chance to see his uniqueness outside the classroom-- these people can become highly involved mentors and advocates on his behalf as it is often the case that these kids with their quirks and love of knowledge are often the ones that have teachers fighting for them. You will see this especially as he gets older. Continue to be a strong advocate for him, to encourage his learning and interests and also-- you can also request an independent educational evaluation from the school. In some cases the school district may pay for an outside psychologist to test him.


Hope77 April 15, 2011

Thank You so much PsychJD,

I appreciate your suggestions for extracurricular activities to keep him engaged in learning and give him an opportunity to further develop and express his talents. He loves Math, Science experiments, Art, and especially building(Legos and Neo-cube). Unfortunately, his language disability really interferes with his ability to verbally express what he knows and our schools gifted program is geared for children who are high achievers and very strong readers.

We did start an IEP for expressive language and the School Psychologist is hopeful that it should help bridge the gap between his strengths and weaknesses. They assured me that by signing the current IEP I was not closing doors for my son and they will monitor him very closely and offer more testing if he does not show improvement.

It does concern me that they cautioned his FSIQ but used it any way to rule out Specific learning disability/giftedness. I think it is just easier to "average" him off than to come up with a teaching stradegy that can accomodate the duality in his cognitive profile. I understand that the school may not be equipped with programs that suit his needs or have the time in the classroom to devote to the many different learning styles that children have.

I take my children's education very seriously and want them to develop a love for learning that extends well beyond their school years. When I asked if my son could be twice exceptional and how "I " can enrich & incorporate and his talents to help remediate his weaknesses, They told me that "because he is of average intelligence, preforming at an average level, I should be very proud that all the hard work that I have done with him has clearly paid off" This statement, though probably well meant, is such a disservice to my son. He is working so hard and and yet still struggling immensly in the classroom with reading and writting. I wish it was as simple as they stated.

I do truly appreciate everyones help and suggestions. It really does help!



Hope77 May 25, 2012

Still slow going and he is still struggling in 2nd grade with reading,spelling & written expression. Got new Cogat scores and the verbal section has improved :) Any one familiar with CoGat score interpretation. I do wonder if he is twice exceptional. Any insight are appreciated.

2010 Cogat
Verbal 89 25%
Quantitative 102 55%
Nonverbal 139 99% perfect score
comp:113 79%

2012 Cogat
Verbal 113 79%
Quantitative 107 67%
Nonverbal 144 99% perfect score again
comp: 127 95%
For some reason his math on Cogat is low when compared to his achievement on iowa 93% nationally. Does the Quantitative have a lot of reading? Math is his strength. Any thoughts?

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