Very big difference between verbal and non-verbal scores - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 01-18-2012, 06:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ds has always had much higher verbal than non-verbal abilities.

 

He's gifted in reading/language as tested both by achievement and the WISC for children (we're taking part in a research study on ADHD (we're controls) and they tested him for that).

 

But for non-verbal scales he's NOT gifted. We just got back test scores from the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability test that they give in 3rd and 5th grade in our school. (We have a lot of English language learners, and so they hope to catch gifted kids who may not yet have strong language skills.) When ds took it in 3rd grade, he was in the 53rd percentile. 2 years later, he's in the 43rd percentile. I have no doubt that this is accurate. Ds has never willingly built anything, never played with Legos, never done puzzles. He'll happily debate my ear off,  has got a great sense of verbal humor (he can do puns swifter than I can!), and can find a loop-hole in anything.

 

My question is: Is the discrepancy between verbal and non-verbal abilities something to worry about? And indication of something more than average ability in visual-spatial stuff?

 

I'm OK if he's just never going to be an engineer or an architect. I'm sure he can live a long and happy life never doing jigsaw puzzles. But, if this is an indication of a learning issue, then I'd rather address it now, at age 10, than wait until he reaches high school.

 

Thoughts?

 

 


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#2 of 10 Old 01-19-2012, 08:29 AM
 
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My DD is like that. She was much stronger in her verbal subtest scores than non-verbal (as well as testing average for processing speed and low for working memory). She struggled in math and spatial-related tasks in elementary school, on a relative scale - she still did well in class, but personally found it challenging compared to other subjects that played to her verbal strengths. In high school, she's getting over 90's in math and all her sciences, she loves these subjects and plans a career in science. 

 

I don't want to worry you, but if you are researching I'm sure you'll find out that a very large discrepancy between verbal and non-verbal scores is a signal for Non-Verbal Learning Disorder. Aside from academic implications (difficulty with visual-spatial concepts), it is often somewhat akin to Asperger's, with difficulties processing non-verbal social cues from body language and facial expressions. I dismissed this as an issue for DD, because she has never had any social problems. 

 

So I don't know what to tell you, other than that sometimes our kids are more than their test scores. Her WISC profile fits a student who might struggle in math and science and has social relationship difficulties. Yet, she doesn't have problems in those areas. I did encourage her in activities that used a lot of visual-spatial skills - card games like Set, origami, asked her to read maps and navigate when we traveling, playing sports (soccer and hockey), sewing and handcrafts. She has a strong creative streak so it helped to tap into it with the crafts. 

 

The psychologists who administered the tests may be able to give you some more insight, if you talk to them about his subtest results. 

 

I'm not sure if any of that was helpful, but I hope it was. 

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#3 of 10 Old 01-19-2012, 09:59 AM
 
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I'm a little unclear.  Are you comparing the WISC Verbal Comprehension Index to his Naglieri scores?  How do the Naglieri score compare to his Perceptual Reasoning Index from the WISC?

 

I would likely make more of a difference between composite area of a given test.  They are cross-correlated, developed on consistent populations, and are given under the same conditions as each other.  It sounds instead like you're comparing parts of a test given individually (VCI of the WISC) to something given as a group in class.

 

 Did he take the paired WIAT?  How does the achievement align with the cognitive testing?

 

The experimentalist in me would be suspicious of making too much from the differences, but real differences evidently can point to something like a NVLD.  There's a WISC interpretation manual out there online you can read through to figure out how to tease out the meaning of differences in the composite areas.  I'm guessing that because this was part of a study, you're not getting a complete report?  Maybe you could call in a "fellow academic" favor and sit with the PI who did the testing for a bit of interpretation over coffee.

 

I'm mostly spouting here about things I don't know much about.  DD has now finished her neuropsych testing, but we don't yet have a report, and I'm very certain based on previous testing that we won't be seeing these discrepancies.  We'll be seeing discrepancies, just of a very different flavor.  ;)

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#4 of 10 Old 01-19-2012, 10:45 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post

I'm a little unclear.  Are you comparing the WISC Verbal Comprehension Index to his Naglieri scores?  How do the Naglieri score compare to his Perceptual Reasoning Index from the WISC?

 

 



Ah, and see, I thought she meant there was a significant discrepancy between VCI and PRI on the WISC, and the PRI scores were supported by consistent results on the Naglieri.  

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#5 of 10 Old 01-19-2012, 02:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post



Ah, and see, I thought she meant there was a significant discrepancy between VCI and PRI on the WISC, and the PRI scores were supported by consistent results on the Naglieri.  



that's actually what I meant. His overall score on the WISC was in the 'average' range, but that's because he was far below average on the PRI. The Naglieri confirmed this for me. I've looked at the NVLD stuff and he doesn't fit. He has decent social skills, good conversation skills and picks up on social cues as well as any other 10 year old boy that I know. He does well with non-verbal cues such as warning or teasing looks.

 

His achievement in both math and language arts is high, but that's mostly because he really "gets" patterns and can do the algebraic type stuff. When faced with a unit on tangrams, for example, he didn't even know where to begin. His performance on things like the block design is dismal.

 

I may call the study back and see if I can get a copy of the report.

 

 


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#6 of 10 Old 01-19-2012, 02:59 PM
 
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Yeah, you need the full scores and someone to interpret them for you, then.

PRI should broadly correlate to math performance, and since it really doesn't, together with the diffence from the verbal, PLUS evidence from multiple tests, then you ought to follow up. Thankfully, if you don't see any red flags from daily life or school, you can take your time to find the right evaluator.

How are his eyes?
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#7 of 10 Old 01-20-2012, 08:45 AM
 
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IIRC, a 23 point spread  between scores indicates a learning difference on the WISC.

 

That said, a lower score that's in the average range means they'll likely be fine in that area academically, it's just another asynchrony.


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#8 of 10 Old 01-23-2012, 06:04 AM
 
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Just a word of caution: NVLD is a spectrum and lots of people with NVLD don't have significant social impairment or might be good at some types of math, etc.  Just like someone with a language based learning disability might  have great receptive language but poor expressive, you could have someone with NVLD who doesn't have much trouble socially but can't do a jigsaw or has messy handwriting.  I and a huge portion of my father's side of the family have NVLD, and there's a pretty big range.

 

I had a diagnoses based on discrepancy but nothing lower than a low average score.  I still had to work harder at a lot of things where to others I appeared to be excelling.  If you are gifted in one area, you can cover up a lot of difficulty.  High school and university were the point where it was a lot more stressful to deal with needing to work that much harder.  I think that regardless of diagnoses, if your son has low scores in some things, one thing you can do is expose him to those things in a funner way.  My grandmother (who I lived with off and on as a child) was a seamstress and pattern drafter.  Because she got me curious about how she did her work, I learned to improve my speed at processing visual information and "getting" 2D patterns  (I was lucky that I already intuited 3D easily, which is probably why I love seamless knit design).  If I'd been given puzzles or tangrams, I would have thrown my hands up in despair, but making clothes was fun.

 

You can also use the strengths to help.  My 11 yo, who has NVLD as part of Aspergers, initially learned to draw from following directions given verbally in books or having me verbally get him to "notice" things.  Now he can draw really well "intuitively" but really he's using his natural analytical skills to help.


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#9 of 10 Old 01-23-2012, 08:07 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarmerBeth View Post

Just a word of caution: NVLD is a spectrum and lots of people with NVLD don't have significant social impairment or might be good at some types of math, etc.  Just like someone with a language based learning disability might  have great receptive language but poor expressive, you could have someone with NVLD who doesn't have much trouble socially but can't do a jigsaw or has messy handwriting.  I and a huge portion of my father's side of the family have NVLD, and there's a pretty big range.

 

I had a diagnoses based on discrepancy but nothing lower than a low average score.  I still had to work harder at a lot of things where to others I appeared to be excelling.  If you are gifted in one area, you can cover up a lot of difficulty.  High school and university were the point where it was a lot more stressful to deal with needing to work that much harder. 

 

This is a good point. Re-reading my first post, I neglected to say that while I almost immediately dismissed the idea that my DD had any NVLD-related social problems, I remained alert for any academic issues. She seems to manage well and as I said, enjoys her math and science courses. She likes puzzles, has very neat handwriting (much more so than her more globally-gifted brother) and has a strong creative, artistic streak. She did well in a gifted program. Her teachers agreed that she belonged in the class with gifted students. Yet her scores are what they are. She had more than a 30-point discrepancy between VCI and PRI (this thread inspired me to go and dig out out her scores). I have no doubt that she's developed techniques to compensate for her weaker areas. 

 

I agree with getting a copy of the scores and some help with interpretation. I would also consider a vision check, as suggested upthread. DD has some difficulty with convergence, and I suspect she had some tracking problems earlier but learned to compensate. A developmental optometrist diagnosed the convergence issues but apparently her tracking ability was within normal.    

 

 

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#10 of 10 Old 01-23-2012, 10:56 AM
 
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We are having the oddly reversed situation that DS' scores on a developmental test (not an IQ test) showed a huge discrepancy between ceiling scores on what would be PRI subtests and way below average scores on what would be verbal subtests in an IQ test (despite our child being extremely verbal, with an extensive vocabulary and excellent grammar). Wich in our case was considered a possible indication of an ASD, not borne out by a subsequent evaluation. In our case, I am wondering about a mild case of pragmatic language disorder, but we haven't pursued it so far because DS' social difficulties show signs of being greatly improving with maturity.

I really want to find out more about this by having a proper IQ test at some point (I am waiting till DS is a little older, and maybe a need to test comes up ona school-related context anyway, at which point we might get IQ testing for free.


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