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Lower Processing Speed Score on the WPPSI-III

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: I just received WPPSI-III IQ test results for my 4.8 years old son and I am not sure if I should be concerned regarding him processing speed. His overall FSIQ was 141 with a ranking performance at the 99.7th percentile with the following breakdown:

Verbal - 137
Performance - 144
Processing Speed - 110

The processing speed is substantially lower than the other subset score and I was wondering if this is something that we need to address in any fashion? Will his processing speed improve over time or will it remain at the current rate? Thank you.

A: His overall FSIQ does indicate superior intelligence and places him in the highly gifted range. A good number of gifted children tend to score somewhat lower in processing speed in comparison to the other performances.

The Verbal score indicates how well he did on tasks that required him to listen to questions and give spoken answers to them. These tasks evaluate him skills in understanding verbal information, thinking with words, and expressing thoughts as words. The Performance score indicates how well he did on tasks that required him to examine and think about things such as designs, pictures, and puzzles, and to solve problems without using words. These tasks evaluate him skills in solving nonverbal problems, sometimes using eye-hand coordination, and working quickly and efficiently with visual information. Both him verbal and performance score indicates superior scores.

It appears that an additional set of tasks was administered in order to evaluate him ability to quickly scan symbols and make judgments about them. he obtained a score of 110 on the Processing Speed Composite, which is in the average range of him ability.

The huge gap between the Index scores (verbal comprehension and processing speed) indicates that your daughter is able to communicate ideas verbally, but that him visual-motor processing skills are somewhat more average. Therefore, he needs extra time on visual-motor tasks to allow him to get him ideas down on paper. An occupational therapist may be able to help with the necessary tools.

Instruction geared to increase processing speed specifically related to reading, and to math, should be provided. Such skills include being able to rapidly and automatically recognise common letter sequences, learning basic arithmetic facts (i.e., addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) to the point of automaticity. Activities designed to improve him rate of production should be provided. These can include brief speed tasks (e.g., ‘mad math minute’ for developing arithmetic fluency; reading from a list of high-frequency words), and charting daily or weekly results, etc.

With practice and training, him processing speed will surely improve. Hope that helps. All the best.


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