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Unsatisfied with Handling of IQ Test

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My son just received results from a full neuropsychological examination. Concern from the school social worker about possible ADHD prompted the test although his teacher felt that he did not have ADHD. Both myself and his last three teachers thought him very bright but that perfectionism stood in the way of his completing certain tasks in a reasonable amount of time and that his general disinterest in coursework made him difficult to motivate. When the material was of interest to him he never had trouble concentrating.

The examiner spent very minimal time with my son on the first day. She gave him the block design test on 6/24/14 when he was eight years old. He turned nine on 8/6. I'm not certain but I believe a couple other subtest were given to him this day as well.

His next appointment/testing was on 8/4, two days before his ninth birthday. The verbal comprehension index was given to him on this day by the test administrator, not the Psychologist.

On his birthday the remainder of the IQ portion was given also by the test administrator.

His entire test was scored based on him being 9 years old.

When the digit span test was conducted there was a jackhammer going due to construction in the building and I heard my son comment to the test administrator about it. He later told me it was bothering him. There were also people talking loudly in the waiting room but he said that did not distract him. The Psychologist reported finding no evidence of ADHD. His IQ test scores were as follows:

  • Verbal Comprehension Index 124-Superior

  • Similarities 14-Superior

  • Vocabulary 16-Very Superior

  • Comprehension 12-High Average (information) (15)-(Superior), (word reasoning) (13)-(High Average)

  • Perceptual Reasoning Index 127-Superior

  • Block design 14-Superior

  • Picture Concepts 14-Superior

  • Matrix Reasoning 15-Superior (Picture Completion)- (13)(high average)

  • Working Memory index 116-High Average

  • Digit Span 12- high average

  • Letter/number sequencing 14-superior (arithmetic) (16)-(very superior)

  • Processing Speed Index 103-Average

  • Coding 9-average

  • Symbol Search 12-high average

  • Full Scale IQ 124-Superior

It was noted that my son "appeared to be extremely stressed, seemingly placing immense pressure on himself to perform well. At times he seemed unaware of any time constraints and tended to work more at his own pace, frequently stopping to erase or to think out a problem prior to providing a response. It was rare that Kenneth would give up on a task, even those that were overtly challenging for him..."

I spoke to the Psychologist prior to testing about my son's perfectionism. She said they would take this into account. They did not. Rather, they said that I was putting pressure on him to perform and that his behavior was a result of that. On the contrary, my son has been this way with his work since preschool. I have never been concerned about his abilities or put any pressure on him in all of the years he's been in school. The only pressure that came this year from his teacher, paediatrician and myself was to not worry about being perfect...just get the work done. My son struggled with this and we encouraged him.

The psychologist was adamant that my son is not gifted when we met. She was adamant that he be in gifted classes and that perhaps he type his work/tests or use dictation. Another interesting finding was that even though he is right handed he was shown to be left hand dominate. She said there's nothing we can do about that now and asked if we forced him into being a righty.

I have decent self assessment skills. While all of my friends were going crazy in the early school years, doing extra activities with their kids, I never once pressured my son into doing any work. We read and played. I know I did not pressure him and that his divergent thinking gets in the way of him giving a simple answer to ANYTHING. Several times I heard the test administrator say, "I've never heard that answer before" or something to that effect. My son never takes the easy/obvious way. He's an abstract thinker.

I'm not satisfied with the way this all worked out. He worked so hard and spent so much of his time taking this test...I just want the results to be accurate and fair. And I have this sinking feeling that this was not carefully attended to and it's unsettling.

Any thoughts on how I should handle this would be GREATLY appreciated.

A: A few concerns I have here myself. I find it somewhat strange that you are able to hear him during the test. This is a confidential test and if you are able to hear him, others can as well and this is not ethical. The test should have been conducted in a physical environment that is conducive to testing (well-lit, quiet room, free from distractions and interruptions) - any loud talking could certainly disrupt any child let alone a jackhammer! I am also quite concerned that the test is not taken in one session as has been advised. It takes approximately 1-1.5 hours in one sitting for the complete test battery on the average. If testing is to be done in two sessions, the following session should occur as soon as possible after the first testing (preferably within a week). I am not sure why it took that long to continue the test. Furthermore, why it was done in two sessions is also confusing. Unless the child has a diagnosed learning problem that makes it hard for them to complete the entire test in a single session or the child is unwell (both mental or physical).

The tester should be someone with proficient training in testing. However, when it comes to interpreting the results, it should be done by a qualified psychologist who is well versed in IQ testing. I think it is best for you to go back to the psychologist and ask for an explanation for the matters I mentioned earlier. It is not possible to get the same test done within a year at the least due to practice effects, so you may have to wait for a retest. However, if you feel that he has been unfairly attended to, there is a possibility of inaccurate results. You may want to seek the opinion of another psychologist with the full breakdown of test results and possibly another IQ test (e.g., SB-V) or wait next year.

As for the current results, it appears that his processing speed brought down his results. For gifted children this may be a common occurrence, as they tend to reflect before providing a response. Furthermore, as you mentioned of him being a perfectionist, it is possible that he wanted to make sure he got it right. The GAI score (which only takes into account of the VCI and PRI is 129 (derived from sum of the scaled scores on a GAI Conversion Table). However, based on your son's age range, the difference is insufficient to attain statistical significance.

From your description and his results, I do not see him as being ADHD. I am sure he is very bright but it is hard to tell if he is gifted, as a lot of other factors that need to be observed. Based on his scores, he may not gain admission in a programme for gifted children but you could ask for a special case assessment by the school if you feel it would cater for his needs. Hope that helps. Good luck!


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