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Parenting a Child with LD or ADHD

VIQ-PIQ discrepancy

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Joined: Nov 03, 2005
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Posted Dec 12, 2002 at 5:15:30 PM
Subject: VIQ-PIQ discrepancy

Hello--I'm a 35-yr-old mom of a 3-yr-old who has been having some social skills problems in school. He is very verbal and has a great vocabulary (which now, of course, worries me reading about NVLD/AS etc., but I've been told by a child psychologist that there are a few slightly concerning phenomena with my son's behavior, but to not worry about it this at this point). I've looked up my old IQ test (taken when I was 17), on which I scored at the 95th percentile on the verbal scale and at the 60th percentile on the performance scale. I never loved math; I have a bit of social anxiety; and my writing has been published on many occasions. Today, would I have qualified for anything? Could my son inherit my tendency to score this way? Is that discrepancy ever attributable to genetics? Last year, my son was also dropped by a friend who was flipping him and he landed on a thin carpet on the right side of his head. (No bumps, though, and no other outward problems other than crying.) I'm confused, as you can see. Any advice is tremendously appreciated.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Dec 12, 2002 6:20:04 PM

Cathy,
I'm just a mom, with a kid with dyslexia and a large VIQ/PIQ gap but here's my opinion. Your IQ discrepancy certainly would be considered significant and warrant further investigation if you were someone in need of help. On the other hand, if you've made it this far in life and are a happy person than I wouldn't worry about it. We can't all be the same after all.

However, it can be rough for a kid to be so uneven in their abilities. (Mel Levine talks about how as adults we want our surgeons, lawyers etc to be specialists but we expect 2nd graders to be good at everything!!) So you are wise to watch how your child develops. And from what I understand NLD and AS are believed to have a genetic component. I've read research that says children's IQ's are usually within 10 points of their parents. Don't know if that holds true when there is a disability involved.

Don't panic, watch carefully and intervene when necessary. Not sure what the first step is with a 3 year old with social problems. A good speech /language therapist, maybe a child psychologist?

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Anonymous
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Posted:Dec 12, 2002 7:26:28 PM


Thanks for your advice! It's good to hear other perspectives. Good luck to you with your child. I didn't expect life to get so complicated so soon!

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Anonymous
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Posted:Dec 12, 2002 7:29:43 PM
Subject:Heredity

Researchers at U. of Colorado (and other sites) do believe that they have found genes that carry LD symptoms. People in the field have long sensed its heredity.

If your son lost no consciousness, I'd doubt that this head injury was major enough to cause such damage to his mental processing abilities.

Strong probability that you'll have an NLDer on your hands. Early intervention will help lots & lots. Having a bright mom will, too.

Keep reading about early teaching of spatial skills and directionality, social behaviors, feelings, and the like. Work with your son at home--but don't worry. (It doesn't help anything, anyway.)

This is a great BB for parent support and ideas.

Susan Long
Parent and Teacher

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Anonymous
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Posted:Dec 12, 2002 8:14:14 PM


Hi Susan,

Thanks for your response and suggestions. I'm just curious--my husband and I never really had significant social problems growing up, and this despite my discrepancy. Also, my son seems to have great facial recognition and seems to get nonverbal cues from me at least (seeing people who look like kids in his class, say, at the mall, or collapsing into giggles if I give him a certain look, or getting mad if I seem like I'm going to say no to something). He's also very dramatic, silly and enthusiastic about certain people or going certain places. I've read that kids w/NLD have trouble with these things. He makes eye-contact, too. Is he really probably destined for NLD?

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Anonymous
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Posted:Dec 12, 2002 8:38:12 PM

Even with a big ol' spread, 60th percentile is still better than more than half of the regular folks out there. Even today, *if* you had issues at school, your folks would probably have to fight like mad to get you help. It's just possible that you are just plain *really smart* in some areas and only smart in others. Good grief, not everybody loves math especially with the obnoxiously awful way it tends to be taught! OF course, it's possible there's a lurking LD in the NV area there (was this an individual IQ test like the WISC -- was there a lot of subtest swing or just lower trends in that ol' nonverbal area?) -- but it's also possible that there isn't.
I remember from those child psych classes that the teachers tried to dispel the myth that giftedness went hand-in-hand with big problems, that smart people were klutzes, all of that.
Yes, intelligence patterns can be inherited -- but the environment also has a lot to do with social skills development, and there are an awful lot of reasons for a three-year old to have "social skills" problems. In your generation, how many three year olds had to have social skills in the first place? I know I didn't -- I'd probably have been tossed out of any day care center on my ear but my momma loved me :) :)

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Anonymous
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Posted:Dec 12, 2002 8:54:26 PM

My crystal ball is dark, that's for sure. I think that one must just look at skill needs and not worry about future labels.

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Posted:Dec 12, 2002 9:00:29 PM

Thanks so much for your wise words and sharp humor! (You'd love my dad!) I just have to keep positive now, because with all this stuff my world seemed to be falling apart! As they say, I guess I turned out okay, but my son is everything to me. I'll watch him, get him help if he needs it, and try to keep my sense of humor. Your post made my night!

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Anonymous
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Posted:Dec 12, 2002 9:52:23 PM

THursdays I"m usually there 8-9:ish -- parents & teachers drop by

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Anonymous
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Posted:Dec 13, 2002 7:13:03 AM

Others on the board have given you good advice. Yes these things can run in families and from your description of yourself, NVLD comes to mind.

Try not to take literally what psychologists say about a three year old. Especially what that psychologist said as to tell a mother there are "slightly concerning phenomena but don't worry about it" makes no sense at all. If it's concerning, why wouldn't one naturally worry? And if you don't want a parent to worry, why use the word "concerning"? We get concerned and worried when we're told something is concerning.

Frankly, in this situation it's the psychologist's behavior that would concern me - not your son's - as the psychologist seems to be pretty inept socially.

I was once told that my son had "concerning me-first behavior" and would likely go up to evidence the social behaviors of autistic children. My son at 21 is gracious and kind to others and well-liked if quietly spoken.

Is your dear son happy? If not, try to find ways to help him to be. If he is, celebrate that and help him to always be happy.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Dec 13, 2002 9:19:38 AM

....we must not forget that the 60th percentile is strong, very strong, average. You may have deficits at all in P.I.Q. (however you did not post subtest scores so I cannot comment on subtest scatter) at all. Things are relative. So verbally you are really strong, visually-spatially you are strong average. Your visual-spatial doesn't match your verbal, but since it is above average, I cannot imagine this would be a disability (unless, of course, there is subtest scatter that I am not aware of).

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Anonymous
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Posted:Dec 13, 2002 10:30:23 AM

NLD is extremely rare but it seems a popular lable at present. You are gifted, it is not at all rare for a large discrepancy with people at high end as you are. Your son may be gifted as well. It is also typical for gifted individuals to have social issues. One social behavior that always fascinated me about my son (who does not test gifted but has some strengths) is a strong sense of social justice. You see this trait on many checklists for the gifted. It means that they get upset at the wrongs of life. The don't like to see unfair treatment of other people. This can lead to being ostracized because these kids will speak out when another is behaving badly. My son does this all the time. I have to constantly tell him to mind his own business he is only 9 and he can't change the world. These kids also often prefer the company of adults to other children. My son has alot of friends, he always chooses the right kids as well, kids I would have picked for him, kids that I really like having in my home. He is the kid that other children rush over to, they will call out, "Look Chris is here."

My son has a split as well but like your son makes eye contact, has a very good sense of humor, and will comment on any change in my facial expression. He asked me this morning for an explanation of the Cuban Missle Crisis. He is intellectually curious and creative.
My son also was extremely verbal at a young age and has a great memory which really has him looking nld which he is not, he is more ADHD/LD.

I would watch out for visual motor issues. Get the boy coloring and doing arts and crafts, encourage him to dress himself, and get him into gymnastics and any other sport he is willing to do. It is hard to spot visual motor issues in young children so just take all the preventative steps and stop worrying.

Also, plug gifted learning disabled or twice exceptional into google and you should find many articles on the subject.
It is great that you are aware that there is a possibility of a problem. A little prevention can go a long way.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Dec 13, 2002 1:44:40 PM

Three is pretty young to conclude a child has social skills problems. I remember when my sister-in-law who is a pediatrician was making similar comments about my son. I asked her if her father, an engineer, would have had social skills at age 3. She agreed he would not. (She thought he might be autistic, although she didn't tell me at the time. My son's social skills developed later, like everything else. Today, at age 9, he is adequate but not great--he does not stand out in a crowd. He is LD with right brain deficits).

That said, it would do not harm, and perhaps good, to approach him as a kid at risk. Enroll him in gymnastics. Find him a really good preschool which works on developing social skills as opposed to cramming academics down 3 year throats. Have lots of play dates and help model behavior. Do activities to improve small motor skills--coloring, painting, beads ect.
Beth

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Posted:Dec 13, 2002 2:02:22 PM

My nephew didn't speak until he was almost 4. They pegged him autistic. He is now 11, a straight A student and the MVP of his baseball team. He is extremely independant (doesn't wake his mom up, but instead will shower, get himself dressed and make his own breakfast before heading out to school. I can't even imagine that one.) and has many friends.

To this day, somewhere in his files the words "autism spectrum" are written. You can see why I don't like labels.

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Posted:Dec 13, 2002 2:39:57 PM

Linda is right. Don't get too hung up on verbal/performance discrepancies, for yourself or your son. It takes a lot more than that for NLD to be an appropriate diagnosis. Just FYI, my profoundly gifted son has a 30 point split between verbal and performance IQ due to problems with coordination and motor skills and, perhaps, due to the fact that a person is not necessarily equally gifted in all areas. He has many friends, great social skills, and very strong spatial abilities. His greatest gift is fluid reasoning. All of these things are inconsistent with NLD and his "official" diagnosis is developmental coordination disorder, inattentive ADHD and dyslexia (said to be the exact opposite of NLD). Also, I agree with those who said to take these early "diagnoses" with a grain of salt. By all means, watch closely and act swiftly if you see learning problems, even as early as kindergarten (maybe even preschool if he shows writing difficulties), but don't worry too much. When I was five years old, my kindergarten teacher told my mother that she thought I might be either deaf or mentally retarded. (I really was just a shy kid who wanted to stay home with my mom.) I grew up to be a lawyer and, if I do say so, a reasonably intelligent human being. My mother still tells that story and it always gets a big laugh.

Andrea

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Posted:Dec 13, 2002 4:30:16 PM

How are your son's social skills? My son (who is not profoundly gifted, but has areas of giftedness ) has a split mostly due to poor graphomotor skills. But he also has some deficits in his social skills - not horrible but not great. He's dyslexic and inattentive as well which can also hinder social skills. Noone has labeled him NLD, but we've really tried to understand if it applies because its a predictor of future problems. His testing also shows superior abstract reasoning which I know contradicts an NLD dx. Just curious about your son .

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Posted:Dec 13, 2002 4:52:21 PM

My son has good social skills. Lots of friends, one best friend, knows how to act in the group, very easy going, likes to crack the other kids up with his jokes. He tends to gravitate toward kids, who, like himself, are very verbal and very creative. I think he does not interact quite so well with adults -- he tends to think that his opinion should trump the teacher's, for example. We used to wonder whether it was because he failed to fully grasp the social context of kid/teacher interactions, but now I'm of the view that he simply lacked sufficient impulse control to inhibit his response of not suffering fools gladly. He still doesn't have much tolerance for school work he regards as silly or not useful, but he's learned to keep them to himself.

Andrea

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Posted:Dec 13, 2002 5:54:16 PM

My daughter has the VIQ/PIQ split (22 pts in favor of PIQ) However, she also has fine and gross motor problems, no sense of direction, no sense of time and poor organizational skills. Her social skills were poor as a preschooler but have gotten much better (tho she still tends to be on the bossy side). She also has the sensory integration (hypersensitivity to light and sound) problems. She went into preschool at 3 came out at 5 (November birthday) and knew 2 letters when she went in and the same 2 when she came out. I thought she was doomed for failure!

Maturity goes a long way. Watch carefully, be vigilant and act if necessary.

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Posted:Dec 13, 2002 8:58:22 PM

Everyone else has already given you very good advice. I'm the mom of two kids with substantial VIQ/PIQ splits. One is an NLD "poster child", the other, in spite of a split that is only one point different from his brother, is not NLD. (the NLD kid's split is 22 points, the non-NLD kid's split is 21 points)

If you've been reading on this site and the NLD sites, you probably already know that NLD cannot be dx'd solely on the basis of VIQ/PIQ split. (There are also NLD'ers that don't have a split) Another thing that's tough about NLD is that many young NLD children present as very precocious children with below average (but not alarmingly so) motor skills, and below average (but not alarmingly so) social skills. I think most neuropsychologists would be reluctant to give a child an NLD label at your son's age simply because a lot of the things that "might" be part of NLD can also be normal developmental variation in a child that young, particularly with a child who is also clearly very bright. (the same reason that few children are dx'd with ADHD at this age... a lot of very ADHD-ish behavior is perfectly normal in a 3 year old)

The bit about eye contact is very misleading. Except for those kids that have the dual dx of NLD and AS many, if not most NLD kids are perfectly capable of making eye contact... though it might not always be appropriate. My NLD son worked with a SPED teacher in first grade (before we knew about NLD) who REALLY emphasized eye contact. The result is that he has rote-learned the eye contact thing. He'll keep eye contact when it would be much more appropriate to look away.<g>

As far as humor is concerned, again, unless your talking about kids who are more on the Asperger's end, many NLD kids have a very good sense of humor as long as they understand the joke. Unfortunately, because the interpret things so literally, play-on-words jokes sometimes go right over their heads unless they are explained. Once a word-joke is explained to my NLD son, he thinks it is hillarious.

You mention that your son has no trouble "reading" your face and body language. Again, I'm not saying that he _is_ NLD, but this fact in and of itself would not be surprising even in a child that was NLD. NLD kids can learn to read non-verbal cues, particularly in people they know quite well. It's harder with strangers. Three year olds usually don't have to interact in a very sophisticated way with more than a small number of people. Adults also tend to communicate with ALL small children in a very concrete manner, so these deficits might not yet be noticeable. My son didn't have serious trouble with non-verbal communication until 5th grade, when teachers "assumed" that he understood things that he did not.

The catch 22 with NLD kids is that they often do seem very normal as preschoolers, while this is probably the best time to address some of their most troublesome underlying deficits. (visual/spatial and motor) I agree with all the good people who have told you not to worry too much yet.

But I am also the mom of an NLD child who would have had a hard time believing at 3 or even at 5 that my child had a disability. I think we are very lucky that I put both of my children into a Montessori pre-school, which addressed my son's specific areas of weakness day after day for 3 years. I didn't think of it as "therapy", but I think in a very real way, it was.

While I don't think you should "worry", I do think, as other people have said, you should be pro-active. Keep him in activities that challenge him physically in a fun way. Same with the visual/spatial stuff. If it turns out that he IS NLD, he will probably shy away from puzzles, Legos, "Concentration" type games etc. that challenge him visual/spatially. Make games of it, keep it fun, but keep him working on it. Keep him touching, hearing and seeing. Ask him to describe things to you. Play a simplified version of 20 questions with him. Work on getting him to visualize.

All of these things will help if it does turn out that he is NLD. If he's not, as long as you keep them fun, he'll still benefit from them because they're developmentally appropriate for any child. And if he does turn out to be NLD, it's not the end of the world. You said yourself that you have a big VIQ/PIQ split. If he inherited NLD from you, he most likely also inherited the resources that have lead you to a successful, fulfilling adult life without ever even knowing you had a problem.<g>

My NLD son is smart, verbal, sweet, painfully honest, and has a sunny, upbeat disposition. No, he won't be an athlete, and probably not a neurosurgeon either. But I truly believe that if we can navigate him through his school years with a minimum of emotional trauma that he'll become a happy, successful adult.

Karen

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Posted:Dec 13, 2002 9:07:43 PM

Karen,
As always, I appreciate your descriptions of your children.

I have a question about improving eye contact. My son, who is not severe enough for a dx, but has some NLD traits, has very variable eye contact. Usually its pretty poor. This is in spite of language/speech therapy, and a social skills group. Just wondering if you had any insight on how I can help him improve this. I think at this point (he's 8.5) its somewhat habit for him to look away.

Thanks,
Karen

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Posted:Dec 13, 2002 10:13:12 PM

Hi Karen,

My son was younger than yours when the SPED teacher worked on him with it, and I'm sure that makes it easier. But she took him off and worked on him one-on-one, cueing him every time to look at her before she would speak to him. She insisted that the general ed teacher and the classroom aide do the same thing when speaking to him. I think it was more persistence and consistency that did it than anything else.

But, as I said in my original post, I'm not sure the result is always an improvement. Particularly now, as an early middle school. His direct, unbroken gaze can be misinterpreted as "insolent" or "arrogant", particularly when being spoken to by a teacher who is aggravated with him. Because it is a rote-learned behavior, it doesn't always mean what people think it does.

Another place where it can be a problem is that teachers assume that if he's makign eye contact, that they've got his attention. Maybe... but maybe not. because NLD kids can be very perseverative, he may be locked into something else while he is looking right at you and nodding his head. He can even repeat back what you've said, and have absolutely no recollection later. The only way you can know for sure that he heard and understood is to make him tell you in his own words what he's got to do.

NLD kids can be so tricky because they SEEM pretty darned normal until they do something totally unexpected. Then, if you're not careful, they get blamed for being "oppositional". When you get to the bottom of what went wrong, it becomes blatantly clear that they msiunderstood the directions, usually as a result of a too-literal interpretation.

Karen

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