Problem with working memory for visual information - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 09-24-2013, 02:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My daughter participated in a university study that included the WISC-IV and five other tests about 6 months ago when she was 10.5. We just got the results and pretty much everything was in the upper 90th percentile (95th to 99th) except for things relating to visual memory. For two subtests of working visual memory she scored in the 10th and 16th percentile and for the ability to process and analyze visual information she scored in the 25th percentile.

Here's a bit of background information: My daughter has never been formally tested for giftedness but read words at 2, chapter books by 3 and Charlotte's Web by her 4th birthday. She's always learned everything quickly and easily (music, physical skills, anything to do with language) except math. We homeschool and she is a bit above grade level in math but not many, multiple grades ahead like she is in other subjects. She's always expressed that she hates math but I always thought it was because it was the one thing she actually had to put effort into learning.

I'm trying to research what this discrepancy between her other scores and these visual memory subtests means and thought I would ask here in case anyone has been in a similar situation.

So,
1. What does it mean?
2. Should I have some other formal testing done?
3. Are there professionals that can help her to "fix" this?
4. Does this relate to her avoidance of math?

Thanks,
Kristen
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#2 of 8 Old 09-25-2013, 05:23 AM
 
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Welcome!

 

That's an interesting profile. I have no personal experience with this type of discrepancy but I'd say the first order of business would be to find out whether it is really and truly a processing and storage issue or whether there's a perceptive deficit involved, so I'd research for a good developmental optometrist and have them rule out (or treat) any eye problem that might have been under the radar so far - I'd imagine homeschooling may make it easier for a not-so-obvious problem to be compensated for and thus overlooked.

 

Next, I'd recommend a copy of the Eides' The Mislabeled Child (http://eideneurolearningblog.blogspot.de), which has a long chapter about this.

 

And lastly, I hope Miranda will chime in, who I am sure can help you!


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#3 of 8 Old 09-25-2013, 05:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you very much. I will get that book (hopefully from the library) and read up about it. I appreciate you taking the time to reply. I didn't consider that it could be a perception deficit. I really don't understand why letters and musical notes aren't visual information as she had never had any problem with those.
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#4 of 8 Old 09-25-2013, 10:47 PM
 
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I'm not quite sure why Tigerle thought I'd be helpful ... certainly not in interpreting the IQ subtests as I'm no expert and despite being a bit of a numbers geek harbour a lot of skepticism about IQ at the best of times. I really have no idea whether the discrepancy in your dd's subtests could have anything to do with her relative weakness in math. 

 

But I am a homeschooling mom of a bunch of gifted kids, and my ds did have a similar degree of discrepancy. He was assessed for dysgraphia upon entering the school system at the 10th grade level after a lifetime of unschooling, and they did a FSIQ as part of that -- I had no idea this was part of the LD assessment, but whatever: he found the process fascinating, and enjoyed hearing statistically derived comments about his certain learning preferences. His low score, however, was on visual processing speed. I was confounded by it, since he is some sort of expert in 3D mapping in computer game modding, and his reaction time playing video games is so incredible. But it did make sense of his anxiety overload when trying to sight-read music: he just couldn't process the pitch information fast enough to keep up with the beat. He's extremely strong in language and reading, but also very strong in high school math (wasn't so keen on K-7 arithmetic stuff on paper, but has come into his own as things have got more abstract). So he's different, but the amount of discrepancy was similar, and he was homeschooled for many years.

 

I totally get what Tigerle is saying about a not-so-obvious problem easily being overlooked in homeschooling because it's much easier to compensate. However, I'd put a different light on her interpretation. IQ scores, if accurately measured, are supposed to remain fairly fixed over time, so if a child has a significant are of weakness, you're not going to cure it: you're looking at developing compensatory strengths, alternative ways to learn, and various other work-arounds. I'd say that homeschooling often allows the discovery of compensatory strengths and coping strategies to occur naturally.

 

In my ds's case knowing about this gap in scores was reassuring for him because it armed him with information that removed him from blame when it came to certain aspects of his learning style -- or rather it was important when he entered the school system and was being asked to do visually-oriented stuff that didn't work well with how he thought and learned. Rather than thinking "this system of diagramming ideas is stupid and I suck at it and hate it," he could instead think "this system is designed for kids who learn by organizing things visually -- which isn't me -- but I understand why the class is being asked for it; it works for some." Until then I really think it was best that we didn't fuss over any of it and just went with what worked for him, and dug in and dealt with stuff like music sight-reading that was a challenge for him -- in a good way, since it helped him learn to push through things that didn't come easily.

 

So I guess if I was in your situation I'd rule out the visual perception issues as Tigerle suggested, and if she isn't suffering unduly from finding math challenging, and you're not dealing with school accommodations, I'd just move on as homeschoolers and continue enjoying her strengths and relishing the challenge that comes in her (relatively) weaker areas. 

 

Miranda


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#5 of 8 Old 10-01-2013, 01:46 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
 

I'm not quite sure why Tigerle thought I'd be helpful ...

Because of that:

 

Quote:

But I am a homeschooling mom of a bunch of gifted kids, and my ds did have a similar degree of discrepancy.

And that:

Quote:

I totally get what Tigerle is saying about a not-so-obvious problem easily being overlooked in homeschooling because it's much easier to compensate. However, I'd put a different light on her interpretation. IQ scores, if accurately measured, are supposed to remain fairly fixed over time, so if a child has a significant are of weakness, you're not going to cure it: you're looking at developing compensatory strengths, alternative ways to learn, and various other work-arounds. I'd say that homeschooling often allows the discovery of compensatory strengths and coping strategies to occur naturally.

Living in a country with mandatory brick-and-mortar schooling, it is really hard to look beyond the "needs to be able to function in an institutional setting by age 6, period" mindset! It would never have occurred to me to put it the way Miranda has, but of course homeschooling allows you to develop compensatory strenghts in ways that wouldn't be possible if a child had to function in a classroom, and may ease school entry at a later point. Depending on what the vision tests might turn up of course. There may be something treatable underneath there.

 

About the math thing:

my youngest was born with spina bifida and among of the functions affected may be things like spatial perception and sequencing, either due to mobility impairments or due to the accompanying hydrocephalus (they're not sure yet what the underlying problem is, but it appears that children who have not developed hydrocephalus have it too, so it may just be about the impaired mobility which affects spatial perception) and which translate into a learning disability in math, apparently specifically in algebra, not so much arithmetic. Not sure where I am going with this but maybe, looking at your daughter<#s scores and recalling what kind of areas she has trouble with, it rings a bell with you.


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#6 of 8 Old 10-04-2013, 05:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Miranda,

 

Thanks for your response.  Compensating rather than fixing makes a lot of sense. Like your son, my daughter seems to be able to use these scores to reframe for herself why she has struggled more in math and I've seen her progress much more quickly in the last couple of weeks.  It's changed her mindset about being "stupid" at math.

 

I was interested in the fact that your son blossomed in math in the high school years.  My daughter could always do the Hands on Equations problems instinctively + preferred to do them in her head rather than with the manipulatives.  We got to Grade 9 math at the beginning of the last school year but then I discovered that she didn't remember many of the things she had already learned so, instead of going on with Algebra we went back to review with Life of Fred + some other programs last year but it was a long slog through the material. Do you think it would just be better to go on (ie. start the grade 9 Algebra) or to continue reviewing (she would only be grade 6 age if she were in school this year)?  She has been moving very quickly through the material the last week or two.

 

Thanks,

Kristen

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#7 of 8 Old 10-04-2013, 06:50 PM
 
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I don't think of math as being nearly as linear as schools and traditional curricula tend to assume, so I would do whatever makes her feel confident and motivates her -- on the understanding that she may be leaving gaps that need to be filled in and reviewed as she needs those arithmetical skills. It may take a bit of experimentation, but being able to experiment is part of the beauty of homeschooling, IMO. 

 

My ds is a big-picture learner, and tends to have much less trouble dealing with details once he has seen where they fit. He would much rather build a mallet now, when he needs to hammer a dowel, than build a mallet three years ago because he was told he might have to hammer a dowel someday. If your dd is the same, she will probably do much better moving on into algebra and back-filling her gaps.

 

On the other hand, my youngest dd tends to really like having all the expected pre-requisite skills well in hand. With her we took the extra 18 months to review and consolidate and make sure about her mastery of pre-algebra stuff. She did a fair bit of enrichment learning and also just grew up a bit. It was time well spent with her, as she's now romping through Grade 9 math double-quick with total mastery, and loving that feeling. Different kids, different personalities.   

 

By the way, it sounds like you are under-representing your dd's math abilities if she worked through Grade 8 math during Grade 4. Even with a year or so of review to address retention problems, that still puts her two to three years ahead. I consider my youngest dd to be extremely advanced in math, and she's "only" four years up.

 

miranda


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#8 of 8 Old 10-05-2013, 07:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Miranda,

 

The grade 9 Algebra textbook she started last September had a review section of random grade 6-8 math problems in it at the end of each chapter and I found that she hadn't retained much of what she had learned.  So, she was significantly ahead in one way (having progressed through the other math programs - Miquon, then Singapore, Hands on Equations, then some online math) to get to grade 9 math by the beginning of what would be her grade 5 year, but, from my point of view, it didn't matter because she hadn't retained much of what she had learned so she was "really" still back in grade 6.  That's why I said she wasn't very advanced in math.

 

I think it was also that, before she got these test results, every math session was punctuated with comments about how much she hated math, how hard it was, how she couldn't do it, etc.  Now that she has something to "blame" her difficulty levels on she is progressing much faster and I've heard less negative comments. I think she may be like your daughter and want to feel she has the mastery before we go on (she hates feeling like she doesn't know something) so we will finish up the review and then start the algebra again.

 

I've also always wondered why memory ability is different for different subjects.  She's always loved spelling bees and actually came second for our province two years ago.  I don't know why she can memorize spelling words with ease, or tell you random facts that she read in a book/saw in a documentary years previously but can't remember how to divide fractions or convert fractions to percents or how to calculate the area of a circle (although it seems to be sticking now).  In her younger years, it took multiple revisits to learn regrouping and long division too - each time she would totally get it and be able to do any question correctly but if we didn't practice it for a month or two she would forget and we would have to start over again.

 

Thanks for all your advice.

 

Kristen

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