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Impact of Dyslexia and Anxiety Disorder on IQ score

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: I have a child diagnosed with Dyslexia and Anxiety Disorder. I just had her tested with the WISC and she came in at 124.

Should I seek GT programming at her elementary school (going into 4th grade).

Could I assume had she not had dyslexia and anxiety disorder her score might be higher?

A: A score of 124 on the WISC is indeed above average. However, it is not indicated if this is the FSIQ or the GAI (General Ability Index). It is always important to have a professional check a GAI if a student is gifted and dyslexic. This is because the FSIQ score alone would not be representative of advanced conceptual and reasoning ability.

The GAI can be considered to a Full Scale IQ equivalent when there is a significant amount of score discrepancies due to dyslexia (your educational psychologist may be able to advise you here based on the scatter of the scores). In the WISC-V, the 4 scores that comprise the GAI are 2 Verbal reasoning scores (Similarities and Vocabulary), 3 Nonverbal scores (Block design, Matrix reasoning, and Figure weights). Lower scores in Symbol search, Coding (copying written symbols), or Digit span (auditory working memory and sequencing) are not factored into the GAI. However, these are an important requirement if the FSIQ equivalent is to be an accurate estimate of a student's reasoning and conceptual ability and fund of knowledge. Children with Dyslexia (and Dysgraphia) often score lower in Coding, Symbol Search, and Digit Span.

A rather typical profile for a dyslexic child who may also be gifted is high scores in verbal reasoning, followed by non-verbal reasoning. Working memory is often weaker (compared to age peers) when the child is younger, but tends to settle in the average range. As for anxiety disorder, studies have indicated that, when compared to children without any significant psychopathology, children with anxiety disorders do tend to show statistically and clinically significant impairment, which in turn may lower the scores.

To seek admission into the G&T programme, it would be best to have a team evaluate her suitability in such a programme. For dyslexic children, accommodations are usually made which would be helpful. However, a plan is required if she has anxiety disorder. Do speak to her school counsellor for the best learning opportunity for her. Good luck!.


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