GAI score and Giftedness
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My son, aged 11, was tested and scored with GAI 128 (verbal understanding
118 and perceptual reasoning 131, full scale 118). Is he a gifted child?
If so, do you think this is connected with mood change, stress,
restlessness, sensitivity, depression and bedwetting? If so, what can I
do to make his life less stressful and prevent psychological problems in
the future? Any literature you can recommend? I'm afraid for his mental
health and I need advice!
GAI (General Ability index) which is based only on two subsets of the
WISC, which is the Verbal Comprehension Index (VCI) and the Perceptual
Reasoning Index (PRI), hence not taking into account the Working Memory
Index (WMI) and the Processing Speed Index (PSI). Children with learning
disabilities, attention problems, or other neuropsychological issues may
result in working memory and processing speed deficiencies which in turn
lower the FSIQ (Full Scale IQ). Therefore, the GAI may provide a
comparable approximation of overall intellectual ability as represented
by the FSIQ for this group of children. So, when the processing speed is
included, the overall intelligence quotient would be lowered.
There has been evidence suggesting that low scores on PSI might indicate
ADHD. ADHD, with or without hyperactivity, does appear to affect both
processing speed and working memory. If the child has ADHD, there is
evidence that medication can increase processing speed. Because the
processing speed test on the WISC-IV is heavily influenced by fine motor
skills, if the child has dysgraphia that may bring down his scores.
In short, the Verbal Comprehension Index (VCI) or the Perceptual
Reasoning Index (PRI) are also independently appropriate for selection
to programs for the gifted, especially for culturally diverse,
bilingual, twice-exceptional students or visual-spatial learners. It is
important that a good match be made between the strengths of the child
and the attributes of the program. Students who have special learning
needs should be admitted to gifted programs, provided that there are
other indications of giftedness and instructional modifications are made
to fit the needs of the students.
In your son's case, his GAI score is high (and especially perceptual
reasoning), which is a good indication of higher cognitive ability.
However, there are other criteria, which may be considered. In any case,
I feel he is very able cognitively and may need further attention. Being
gifted may make a child more sensitive than others, especially if not
recognized at an early stage. He is 11 already and I am not sure if he
has been identified but it appears that you are aware of his cognitive
I believe it may not be a good idea for you to handle this matter on
your own and I am not in position to suggest intervention at this point
as I think your son may need a professional who can interview and run
some tests. At this stage, the best thing to do without delay is to see
a child psychologist as he is a little older and it would be better to
be diagnosed professionally especially if there is an underlying issue
for a long time (which may have worsen now). Please act fast;
professional help is needed here as he is manifesting symptoms that may
not get better without proper intervention. Wishing you all the best.