While the gold standard for identifying children as ‘gifted’ has been the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children for decades, researchers from the University of Missouri’s Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders believe an amended test may be accurate and less repetitive for kids with special needs.
As we learn more and more about the brain, we find some pretty incredible things. When looking at the brains of children, we find neural connections with endless possibilities, and we’re overwhelmed with the options.
But if you’re the parent of a child with special needs, for decades, the testing that would identify your child as ‘gifted’ has been sort of stacked against your child. The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) has been the gold-standard test for intelligence quotients (IQ) and has been used to determine intellectual abilities in children for decades.
The thing is, though, that it’s a pretty involved and comprehensive test that can take up to two hours to complete, and for many children with varying special needs, this puts them at a distinct disadvantage.
Researchers at the University of Missouri’s Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders analyzed the test and identified measures that appeared to be repetitive and redundant. In doing so, they were able to shorten the test by up to 20 minutes, but still maintain accuracy in determining a child’s IQ.
John Lace is a doctoral student who is completing an internship in clinical neuropsychology in the MU School of Health Professions. He says that as neuropsychologists, he and his colleagues spend an awful lot of time–often a full day–with patients they evaluate. They are able to ‘get to know’ them some, and they can see that the duration of a test like the WISC can be a lot for a child with a neurological disorder like autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Because this can penalize children who would otherwise score in the gifted range (typically a qualitative score of 130 or higher), he felt the need to efficiently maximize the information from the tests without overburdening the patients taking them would save time and money for both patients and clinicians.
Not to mention, would remove the barriers that redundant assessment brings against gifted children who have difficulty neurologically with enduring the testing lengths and repetitiveness. Lace says this would also help reduce overall health care burdens on families who had children with neurodevelopmental disabilities.
The WISC is not just used to give children IQ scores, but to help diagnose children with neurodevelopmental disorders. It is also used to help make informed decisions about education plans and treatments. Lace said the overall goal is to help people understand that learning or cognitive differences should not be barriers for best meeting the needs of children with regard to behavioral therapies or interventions (or enrichment) at school. They hope that the test would help clinicians streamline care and positively impact patient care.
For many parents of children considered 2E, this is incredible news. A child considered 2E is one who has two diagnoses (or exceptions) that a ‘typical’ student doesn’t have. Often this looks like a child who has ADHD and a specific learning disorder or Autism and ADHD. But, quite often this ALSO looks like a child who has ADHD and is academically gifted. Or a child who has Dyslexia and is academically gifted.
Unfortunately, for many of those children, several aspects of the WISC –namely length and redundancy-prevent children from scoring high enough to be considered ‘gifted’ and it’s solely because there are minimal accommodations that can be made for the WISC’s presentation. Their academic giftedness is not nurtured or tended to, and they suffer for it.
Here’s to helping our 2E children shine and excel with more equitable opportunities to show their abilities, and more customized educations to polish their talents.