I've been a lurker on here for some time trying to work out the best way forward with our son.
He started school last year (here in Australia) and things immediately went pear shaped. He was constantly complaining of being sick, of being tired, of not learning anything and not wanting to go to school and was having full blown meltdowns as soon as he was in a private place ie our car on the way home and at home. He is always apologetic when he calms down and we have very insightful conversations as to why he was upset. Mainly he did not want to be different from the other children and it became the practice all year to avoid anything that would make him stand out in areas that he saw as not being of social importance to others. Regardless if it was something he himself enjoyed. Therefore, it was okay to be good at soccer and chess but not good at reading. The problems with other boys were most intense in playground social interactions so we had him attend after school care to try and widen his social circle. He was a different child the minute he was taken away from his age peers. He was one of the most popular kids at the program and hung out with kids who were two or three years older and they treated him as an equal. The after school care program became the only reason he would go to school.
His class teacher had a very positive, in fact glowing, account of him in the classroom, the very opposite of what he described to us at home and was surprised by what I described as going on at home. I called our state gifted association and spoke at length with one of their education officers and in her opinion I was describing a gifted child that was under challenged at school but had enough self control to not act out until he got home. Though the school considered him smart, they were hesitant to talk about giftedness and so we had him tested by a private psychologist at the end of the year to see if he was indeed gifted with the purpose of asking the school for a grade skip.
He was administered the WPPSI-III in one three and a half hour session. I was present in the room and had never seen him behave so distractedly and in my opinion disinterestedly before. He did not sit still, often turning around to face away from the psychologist and then gave half hearted answers. He was however polite and the psychologist noted this is her assessment as well. His results show he is not gifted, being on the 94th percentile, so obviously still bright, but the results were confusing for me because his processing speed was at the 73rd percentile. It was suggested to retest in a couple of years as this was attributed to his bilingualism and perfectionism and could possibly have repressed his results. Because of the results he was not accelerated. He is still just as unhappy as last year, despite the school insisting that this year is more rigorous he is still ahead of the other students or gets the concepts faster and with less repetition than his classmates.
Has anyone been in this situation before and can give me some advice? I am at a total loss. I am so sorry for the long post I didn't know how else to explain.
we have a bit of a similar problem, since due to visual problems our DD1 is not really "testable" in a proper way. She is very bright, but she emotionally not really her age, a classic "twice exceptional" I think.
The same problem is coming with DS1, who is very bright, very into numbers, but emotionally not really ready for school, but to far intellectually for NOT going to school. He is going to start at a private school though, so we'll see how that goes.
We live in germany, so it's probably all totally different for your place, but what helped us was a kind of "at home enrichment". We do read a lot, I try to do science stuff with the kids (unfortunately with my pregnancy I am not able at the moment) - and DD1 had a planned activity every day. Which was exhausting for me, but for her - not so much :)
I personally did not go the "testing" path into extend, we had them tested once; but I think it makes the kids feel weird and "tested" - maybe that was the reason for him to act so strangely at the official test? Here in germany there are very little programs for gifted kids, and we applied for one, but did not get a place, probably due to the missing "test scores" - but I am alright with that now.
I let them (the kids) guide me - at the moment at works. ;)
Trin with DH , DD(7) and DS(5) , DD(2) , ,
I am not regularly online at the moment due to the above ...
funnily enough my husband is German and my children were born there. We do a lot of enrichment at home and I believe this has actually not gone in our favour as the school seems to think our son is somewhat hot housed. We taught him how to read before he started school because he really wanted to learn and to be honest I think the main reason he doesn't read at a higher level is because we actively encouraged him to read books that were more age appropriate. At the moment he reads the kids junior chapter books that we borrow from the library and I haven't been too crazy about this idea because so much of the preteen stuff seems to be slanted at being cool means not liking school. We deliberately tried to not teach him academic skills last year and focused instead on projects that were of interest to him but he kept bugging me to teach him concepts that were not being covered at school so I would now and then cave in. I have no idea how capable he would actually be in these because I deliberately keep everything simple. However, every time I have started to teach him something new I have been surprised by how quickly he got the concept and was able to expand on it. We are rethinking this approach and also exploring other education options at the moment as I am at wits end with our current situation. The more I read, I think the sensible approach for us is to not put so much weight on the results of his tests. Really we only went along with it because we felt silly saying to the school "hey we think our kid is underchallenged can you skip him a grade" when they were clearly resistant to the idea. We thought an independent, objective assessment would have made things easier. It was our first real experience with the whole idea of gifted education and I am beginning to realise how complex the whole thing is. I have been very naive in my approach to this whole issue.
odd they let you stay in the room.I thought they were supposed to send parents out si the kid would not be distracted?
Hi Tigerle, I'd very much appreciate those links when you can spare the time. The school district uses the guideline of 98th percentile and from what I have heard from others they don't look at much else. At his school they don't offer subject acceleration and they weren't willing to do a trial acceleration. We also broached the subject of taking him out of school one day a week to do extra work but that was shot down too. The guidance counselor who is a qualified psychologist and the special needs coordinator mentioned the Iowa acceleration scale and sounded as though they were going to do a proper evaluation but came back with a basic we don't think he will cope with no mention of having used the scale at all. Their reasoning is that he was anxious and he was anxious about going to school but our response to that was because he was so unhappy and didn't know what to do about it except avoid the situation. They however felt that anxiety would prevent him from succeeding with a grade skip. He is actually in the younger half of his class though he is big for his age and could easily pass for a kid two years older. I do know about the GAI and understood that a twenty point difference is quite significant despite it still being in the average range and did ask to have one calculated for him but the psychologist said she felt that there was a need to show the processing speed as an issue to be addressed as it was significantly lower than the rest of his scores. However she confused us by saying that he is very much borderline and because of the language complications to give it a couple of years and try again as she feels his results were repressed but can't say it like that in a report as she has no proof. I don't know if she was saying that to be kind or if it is true.
I meant to say too that part of the confusion for us has been that since he was a baby we thought he might be gifted and at two and a half we looked up indicators and he really seemed that way. We assumed that the test would confirm why he was the way he was. We have never pushed any learning on him and actually most of his enrichment has been through pretend play, mostly building things and visits to places of interest as well as books and dvds. He doesn't do any real sit down learning at home if that makes sense. I find it frustrating that the school hesitates so much because every time he has been shown something new the uptake has been incredibly fast but they keep insisting it is nothing special because they believe he is given so much extra help at home. I help out at school and can see the difference. Other parents who help out have commented about it to me too. It's just the teachers that can't seem to see anything worth taking note of. To make matters more complicated he won't show other people he can do something unless he believes that they will approve of it and he can tell when the teachers say "good job" but don't really mean it. Or if they ask him to do something but don't really think he can do it, he meets their expectations even though it is something he can do quite well. For example, when the teacher said the 50 piece puzzle would be too tricky he suddenly struggled yet he does 300 piece puzzles in half an hour on his own at home. Is he that good at hiding his abilities or are they simply not at that level? We don't know whether to go ahead and keep pushing to have him treated as gifted and seek acceleration in some form at the school or elsewhere or to just leave things be. The only reason we are still pursuing things at all is because he remains unhappy.
I don't know if this applies to your child, but my daughter has ADHD and Aspbergers as well as being gifted. My understanding is that aspies are often gifted, though maybe in a narrow way. My DD was doing 3rd grade level work at home in K, then in 1st grade at school she was barely keeping up with her peers. For her it wasn't a matter of meeting low expectations or trying to fit in, but of being distracted and bored.
I don't know enough about the schools where you are to offer advice on that subject. I wish you luck in finding a solution for your son.
This abstract talks about some of the questions raised by your son's assessment, particularly the part about whether lower processing speed is normal in the gifted population and which socres should determine need for/access to gifted services. No idea whether it might be worth it to show it to the psychologist or people at your district. Maybe your gifted association can help advocate for you. It should be noted that a processing speed in the 73rd percentile, while of course not in the gifted range, is still way above average and the discrepancy, while it might come up in a super-mega-accelerated gifted program, should not be a problem when simply skipping from one regular classroom into the next regular classroom - the pace of instruction and the processing speed required will still be below what your son can do.
The other question raised that you have not addressed yet is how come they used the WPPSI for a child that is presumably gifted and, if he started school last year, must be about 6 by now? the WPPSI is normed for kids up to 7, and, like all the Wechsler scales, not initially conceived for testing for giftedness, but for testing within the 70 to 130 range. For a kid that is 6 or almost 6 and presumed gifted, there MUST have been ceiling effects. They should have been using the WISC! And if he was not quite 6 and they felt it was a problem should have recommended to wait the few months. Nor do I understand why this should have taken over THREE HOURS. It says on the web that it should take 40 - 50 minutes, which is reasonable for a child that age. Did the psychologist know what she was doing? Maybe that was the reason your kid tuned out!
Tigerle has a good point about using the WPSSI for a gifted child. Hitting ceilings can bring the score down because the child can't show what she's really capable of, so if your child is close to the top age range that might be an issue. Do you have subtest data available? When we did testing with the WISC recently we got a number (up to 19) for each subtest, and based on that I suspect DD's FSIQ is probably underestimated because she ceilinged out about half the subtests. There's an article about scoring here: http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/highly_profoundly.htm
I have not found our local school people very knowledgable about IQ tests. For example, the school psych urged me not to bother having DD tested until she was 9 or 10, but that's not good advice for gifted kids because of the ceiling effect.
I think it's odd that the psych who did the testing wouldn't opine about the results. When DD did the WPPSI when she was 4, the tester did state in the report that she felt that DD would probably test higher in the future because she had been distractable and disinterested in the testing process at that age.
Thanks everyone for your responses.
In answer to why the WPSSI was used, my son was almost six when the test was taken and the psychologist felt a more pictorial test would reduce the effect of his bilingualism. He had only been attending formal education in Australia for 18 months and she felt this didn't give him enough mastery of English to do a WISC. He is however not an ESL student and on meeting him does not strike you as having reduced command of English however, the issue of bilingualism seemed to be a big thing for the psychologist and I didn't know enough then and even now to know what questions to ask about this. I have read since that contrary to popular belief processing speed does not slow down because of bilingualism and that it was most likely lack of familiarity with vocabulary, particularly more complex, abstract academic vocabulary that he had trouble with.
I was allowed to stay in the room because it was a private practitioner and he had never met her before and was nervous. I was actually under the impression that the test would be broken up into shorter segments and we would go back multiple times as another friend said happened with her child. The test was also that long because a reading test was done beforehand which took about 30/40 mins. The psychologist was recommended by our gifted association.
I have not raised the idea of ceiling effects with the psychologist as his scores don't look like it was warranted but I will now after your point about his age and the test that he took just to know what her view on that is. In the meantime are you able to recommend other material to read up on this? I will do a google in the next little while but would appreciate sources you know to be reliable.
We are considering home schooling for him but I want to have a real idea of a curriculum I can follow and feel the distance education ones on offer would be as restrictive as what he does at school after having spoken to several distance schools so when I feel more confident about what approach to take we might go down that path. He doesn't have ADHD and isn't on the autism spectrum and so far no other learning difficultly has been diagnosed. He is very sporty and absolutely thrives playing with the older kids so we would like to keep him in the school environment if at all possible.
Odder and odder. Sounds like she did not get the difference between a child growing up with two languages and one that has heard the test language for the first time on starting school 18 months ago. Why would she test him with a test for preschooers that is bound to depress his scores, if he is gifted as expected, due to the ceiling effects, because the WISC only might depress them due to his being bilingual? If she was so worried about that, she could have chosen a so called "culture fair" tests which have only nonverbal components for the latter situation...but for yours, why not take the WISC and just see what he makes of it? Strange that she was specifically recommended by the Gifted association.
Definitely get hold of the subtests! They will tell you more about whether ceilings came into play. You may have to talk to the school again and ask whether they would consider a retest and when.
Sorry it has taken me a few days to reply. The school has been no help in diagnosing him with the counselor essentially saying that because he has such an enriched home life school is bound to be a let down. I initially was very upset by this as I took it personally but now I am just frustrated because its damned if you do and damned if you don't if we cater to needs not being met at school at home. The psychologist recommended waiting two years and my husband has reached the stage where he isn't willing for any further testing to be done. It costs an arm and a leg here (over a thousand dollars) to test privately and the waiting periods are roughly 8-12 weeks. I have spoken with the gifted association about the tests but they don't offer specific help either in explaining results or on the best test for him to take etc. They provide a lot of support in terms of creating an ILP but since he is not recognised as gifted at his school my son can't really benefit from their expertise in this area.
I somehow understood that you had to wait at least two years before they would reconsider testing? Is there some guideline on that? Also, Tigerle, given what I have written above,in your opinion is the WISC the better test for him to take? I have read on one of the links posted above that various tests cater to different strengths and that that can also affect the outcome. Do you have personal experience giving tests and if so how do you decide what is best for each child?
I don't think it's a ceiling effect unless there were a couple of ceiling scores. The WPPSI-IV is good to 7.5 - did they use the III or the IV? I would look at the anxiety first, and the overall testing approach. 3.5 hours in one session seems onerous, particularly if a child required a parent's presence to participate. Were there lots of breaks in there?
I wouldn't worry about the 73 on PS, it's a good score. It's more common for gifted kids to have spread between their scores than not (balanced profiles are relatively rare), and I'd be more worried about a sizable discrepancy between verbal and quantitative, or much lower WM or processing speeds.
You may find this article interesting. Ignore that she's addressing 2E kids (gifted/learning difference), and note what she's saying about the effect of the brain being unengaged:
I would be looking at the anxiety as first priority. I would be looking at ways to support him to deal with those feelings (CBT, mindfulness etc). And I'd be asking the school to be involved in that.
When I said I don't think it's a ceiling effect, I wasn't saying he's not a 98 percentile kid. I don't think that's yet been determined. If you have to have test evidence to get services, then I think it's a worthy investment.
Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.
I have no personal experience with the wisc. We have a testing date lined up for ds1 in june preparatory to applying for a gifted program and i made sure to schedule it with agifted researcher whose extremely commonsensical book on gifted kids and how to find them i liked.(her nane is aiga stapf and if you as well as your dh read german you may be intetested in her writing). From this book, from hoagies and from reading here i took away that no iq test is ideal and that choosing the right test in the first place and being able to interpret it in a way that answers the qzestions you had in the first place is as imposrtant as administering it.If yiu choose a test with an age range the child is already at the top of, the test cannot answer the question of whether the child is gifted because the child cannot show how far ahead of the age range he really is. The one personal experience we have with testing was when asd came up for ds1 when he was just over four . They tested him with a full range developmental test for 3 - 6 year olds and i remember shaking my head at the report that opined that he had scored "average overall". Admittedly his scores were all over the place but considering that he'd ceilinged on all the nonverbal cognitive subtests, scored in the nineties in the verbal subtests, bottomed out on some of the socioemotional stuff
Sorry, I got cut off having to put my kids to bed! And sorry for the spelling, I was typing on my phone...
I meant to say considering all this and that all the average stuff was about gross motor skills, hearing and the like, they might have come up with more interesting things to say about the spread of his scores and how it might help address his anxieties and rigidities in our case. So test interpretation sometimes isn't as easy as looking at the full scale IQ and saying oops, it's above or below the cutoff - not that the full scale IQ is an average, but using it to the exclusion of the subtest profile conceals how the subtests might be relevant. Which is what I think your psych might have been driving at when she she said the processing speed was an issue to be adressed - however, as it is the discrepancy between his GAI and the processing speed relevant here you need to know exactly what the discrepancy is. Meaning, you need the subtests and the GAI in order to be able to make a decision where to go from here. Get the data and get her to stop waffling on being "borderline" - for over a thousand dollars, I think the psych might come up with the subtest scores and the GAI, and in case his GAI does happen to be above the 98th percentile, with a report explaining to the school why they should use the GAI over the full scale IQ. And if it's not, well, a kid above the 94th percentile might still be bored out of his wits if the teacher isn't addressing the spread of abilities in class at all.
As far as I am aware, the two years' wait applies to testing with the same test, not if you use another test normed for another age group, as the questions are different anyway. You don't want your little one to develop testing fatigue or anxiety of course, or for the school to get suspicious about "test-shopping".
I just wanted to come back to this thread and say thank you to all those who responded with such helpful information a few months ago and also update you on what we have done. I really appreciate your having shared your knowledge and experience and it certainly helped me in discussions with the psychologist who we used and whom I now feel may not have been the best choice. I spoke to her again after having read up on your comments here and she was confident that there was nothing amiss in her methods. At the meeting where we discussed my sons results she had specifically told my husband and I that she felt there were developmental issues relating to the bilingualism that should resolve itself without treatment over the next few years and she felt a retest in a couple of years should result above the 98th percentile. When I rang to clarify if we could have a GAI score calculated for him or retest using a different method she declined saying that a GAI score or a different testing method would not result in a higher score as he is not at the 98th percentile. I felt she thought I was being pushy and insisting that he be found gifted which was not the case. It has never mattered to us whether he was gifted or not only that he was happy at school. It was frustrating and confusing at the time but I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall and chose to walk away from testing as we had by then chosen to take our son out of school to homeschool as we felt he had reached a point where his emotional well being was of greater importance.
Since we began homeschooling his anxiety has essentially resolved itself. Upon consultation with a different psychologist we were told to monitor him as at present there was no anxiety to treat. I suppose we became caught up with having him tested as we felt that without being officially verified he would continue to not receive help at school and from our point of view would continue to be unhappy as he was clearly underchallenged and mismatched with his peers. Given that he is now being home schooled the need for official verification no longer exists. He is thoroughly enjoying learning at home and again showing signs of giftedness which went away as his anxiety at school increased and he lost his enthusiasm for learning. We have chosen to simply provide him with material that interests and challenges him and this seems to be working well for us for the time being.
We may go back down the testing path at some time in the future if necessary when he goes back to traditional schooling but at least we will be better informed. For now we are just enjoying seeing our son happy and thriving and I guess at the end of the day that is what matters.
Once again a big thank you for all your help.