WISC IV - Verbal and Nonverbal Discrepancies
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
What is the significance of the following verbal/non-verbal
discrepancies for learning. WISC IV. Child 8 years old. Composite scores:
Verbal Comprehension 128
Perceptual Reasoning 100
Working Memory 91
Processing Speed 94
The child appears to have Superior score range on Verbal Comprehension
(VC). All other scores (PR, WM, PS) are in the Average range. Verbal
comprehension comprises of Similarities, Comprehension, and Vocabulary
subtests. They require verbal conceptualization, stored knowledge access
and oral expression. The child would have been able to answer well
orally based on questions that assess common-sense reasoning, reasoning
out or retrieving word associations, and the ability to describe the
nature or meaning of words. This would require verbal expression and it
appears that the child has superior verbal comprehension ability.
The discrepancy with Perceptual Reasoning (PR) is large. I am assuming
that for the overall score, the General Ability Index (GAI) was used
since there are various discrepancies between the scores especially the
VCI and WMI (the significance has to be considered). It is obvious that
the child's verbal reasoning skills are superior, which is a good
measure of overall cognition. Working memory is weakest in comparison.
It is like short-term memory – child with weaker WM may forget what they
were thinking mid-way and causes a lot of frustration. A weaker WM in
itself is not a learning disability, but it may make reading, writing,
math, and organization difficult, possibly leading to a learning
disability in one of the areas. It can also appear like inattention.
In school, WM and PS impact alertness, learning, expression, social
adjustment, academic identity, emotional comfort, etc. At home, WM and
PS impact homework, chores, relationships, recreation (sports and
games), self-concept, etc. That shows the importance of working memory
and processing speed.
With superior verbal skills in comparison to nonverbal skills
(analytical), this category of children may typically have difficulty
with math, writing, and/or reading nonverbal cues. The subtests scores
may shed a lot more light on why the child is having difficulties in the
nonverbal area; I am assuming you have the detail score, if not please
do get them for a better idea on further testing. There may also be a
possibility of NVLD (nonverbal language disability) if the child has
very strong verbal skills, however appears to struggle with math,
organization, and comprehension skills.
The next step is to see the administrator of the test or speak to
someone who is able to interpret the breakdown of scores in school. What
is crucial at this point is to get more information about the child's
learning profile and to determine further testing to see if a learning
concern is apparent. Do this as soon as you can to start early
intervention if there is a problem. The child is just 8 years old, so
early intervention would be very beneficial. All the best!