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Interpretation of WISC-IV Scores

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: Hello, my daughter is 7 years old, and I am suspecting that she is dyslexic and is probably with ADHD as well. In her father's side, there are family members who are dyslexic, with ADHD and other developmental disorders.

No one has ever pointed out about her tendencies at schools yet but I can see her struggling with her dyslexic - like tendency, and took her to a doctor. She was recently given 30mins WISC-IV test.

We are not native English speaker except her father, and we are also living in non-English speaking country, and the situation here is unfortunately very behind regarding dyslexia. Majority of people here including school teachers don't even know the word of dyslexia. So we have very limited information too.

Could you please tell me any information that you can see from her result? I really want to find the best support with better understanding to suit her. Thank you very much.
Her scores were as follows ( the test was done with her language):

VCI 111
PRI 74
WMI 94
PSI 76

similarities 11
vocab 12
comprehension 13
digit span 9
letter number sequencing 9
block design 8
picture concepts 4
matrix reasoning 6
coding 6
symbol search 5

A: I am a little concern that the WISC-IV was done in such a short time, especially with someone suspected of dyslexia. Apart from timed subtests (coding and symbol search), other tests are not timed and only stopped after a certain number of incorrect responses or inability to carry on. The psychologist should encourage the child as much as possible to attempt the test items especially if the child is very young, anxious, takes time to respond etc. (all of which would affect the scores). I feel that the test administrator completed the test too quickly (average time for testing is around 90 minutes and sometimes done in two sittings).

There are a few indications of dyslexia based on the WISC-IV but it is not a diagnostic test and unless a proper test is done, it should not be assumed that a child is dyslexic based on an intelligence test. Over the years, studies have indicated that Working Memory has been consistently found to be impaired in children with dyslexia. In many studies involving dyslexics, it is observed that their lowest index score is for WMI, which is connected to phonological memory deficit (note that there are other subtypes of dyslexia therefore, this is present in all dyslexics).

In you daughter's case, him WMI appears to be in the Average range (may not be indicative of dyslexia based on the WISC alone). VCI shows a high average, PSI is borderline (usually affected by WMI), PRI is borderline and him overall FSIQ is in the low average. Under PSI there is Coding and Symbol Search, both of which involves both visual serial scanning, but Coding also implicates graphic movement. It has been studied that those with dyslexia performed significantly more poorly than the normal readers on the Coding subtest and on a writing speed task but showed no evidence of impaired memory for the number or symbol associates. In normal development, working memory and processing speed are strongly linked. In your daughter's case, him WMI is average with borderline PSI.

You would need to see the doctor again to get some questions answered with a breakdown on results and percentiles. Ask why the test was conducted in such a short time and if possible a retest should be done if their response on the short testing time is unsatisfactory. I am concerned about him borderline PRI scores. But first, you need to make sure that the test was done properly otherwise the scores may not even be reliable. If you suspect him of being dyslexic, get him specifically tested for dyslexia and ADHD to rule out or determine any learning difficulty in order to best cater for him needs. I am sorry there is so little help in your country but if possible, get him tested in another country especially since there may be genetic links as your husband side has family members with dyslexia and/or ADHD.

If he has any learning concern, early intervention is the best to enable him to learn as normally as possible and not feel dejected by the education system. Do also speak to him school with some information on him condition once you have it diagnosed. I wish you all the best.


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