Avatar universal

Language delays and intelligence

My son has expressive and receptive language delays.  When he was 3 years old they were diagnosed as severe (below 3 std) but an assessment 2 months ago assessed him as moderate (just above 2 std) for both receptive and receptive.  He is currently 6 years, 4 months old.   He was recently assessed using the WPPSI tool, his performance IQ was given as 72 and his VIQ score in the low sixties.  I am being told that because the receptive and expressive language scores are about the same and his performance on the PIQ was low that they consider that he is intellectually disabled rather than suffering from a language disorder.  I've always thought there was an intelligent little boy in there under all his problems. Perhaps this was simply a parents hope/pride and not realistic. I have to make decisions about education and I don't know what to think.   The specialist language program I was hoping to get him into requires a score of 85 or better on the PIQ so this option is now closed to us.  Can anyone elaborate on conditions like this - should I consider him intellectually disabled or should I still consider that his main problem is still language.  

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686233 tn?1227213145
First, never consider him as disabled in anything.Maybe he just needs help getting caught up then maybe he can go into the classes like you want.
  Even children that are special needs, are very intelligent. My daughter was born with massive brain damage. She was a special needs. The part of her brain that was damaged was what told the rest of your brain what to do. The doctors said that she would never talk, walk, learn,feel love or compassion, or anything.Also said she would die before she turned 2.
I very quickly learned that just because she wasn't good at things like most children, she was very smart. She knew the true meaning of love. She knew what the word no meant without ever being taught. She liked only certain songs on the radio, she knew what it meant when Mommy was near the stove, and she said my mommy, bottle, want more, sis, bubba, and no. She also learned sign language for bite, drink, sleepy,I love you, big girl and pretty baby. She learned how to play chase by rolling after someone. She got around everywhere in the house by rolling where she wanted. Then right before she died of cancer at age 6, she could play patty cake, crawl, feed herself and the dog, and she also knew what was happening before we did. She fought for 9 months with no kidney's and had 13 tumors on her lungs where the cancer came back. The week before she died, she told me she loved me by words not signing. The next day she had a stroke and a week later died.
And his main problem may be language and after a few months of them getting to know how smart he is, they will change his class.
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470168 tn?1237471245
I don't understand the technical jargon of your post.
I presume that your child does not have an autistic spectrum disorder?
My son is diagnosisted as High Functioning Autistic and I have recently had private Speech and Language Therapists reports carried out because of similar concerns I had.  My son's receptive language is classed as disordered and severely affected.  He has Semantic Pragmatic Disorder, Disordered Speech, Auditory Processing Disorder and Language Processing Delays (all associated with a diagnosis of autism).
His expressive language was classed as age appropriate which I contested as he is echolalic.  Sometimes he can appear to have very good expressive speech because he uses phrases/words from TV or DVDs that make him sound much older.  But when he has to put his own speech together he really struggles and often gives up.  So the school's testing was saying there was a big gap between his expressive and receptive lanuage.  The private report is saying that although he can demonstrate age appropriate expressive language in some areas as some times that this is not typical and that both his receptive and expressive language has severe problems.  But I also suspect that he is highly intelligent.
So I had him assessed using non-verbal testing to see what his cognitive ability is.  That is classed as high average intelligence and in some areas he is gifted.  But at school he is in a class of children with special educational needs.  We also suspect he has Dyslexia and Dyscalculia.
All of this, as you say, has been for me to get a better idea of what kind of school would best meet his needs.
So...... has your child been assessed using non-verbal assessments?  Is there a possibility he is on the autistic spectrum?  What makes you think he is of average intelligence, does he demonstrate special abilities with puzzles or construction etc?
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Avatar universal
Thank-you so much for your post.  I was so moved by your story and by what a beautiful child she must have been.  You must miss her very much.  

As you suggest I try not to treat him as "disabled". Where I live (Australia) you have to be tested before starting school if you want assistance with special education needs. I am concerned that they'll see him as intellectually disabled now and not try as hard.  As you say perhaps they'll see past that.  Here's hoping.  
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Avatar universal
Thanks for posting Sally.  

We don't have a formal diagnosis.  He is very outgoing and as I understand it this rules out autism.  Usually they look at how social he is and say "well he is obviously not autistic".  I've struggled to get any kind of diagnosis at all.  Most of the information I've have comes from tests.  So I guess that means I've had to learn the jargon (sorry about that).  Tests showed he had a severe expressive and receptive laguage delay at age 3 - (the bottom  0.15% of the population).  The last test a age 6 put him  in the bottom 2.275% of the population.   A lot of the terms that get used overseas don't seem to be used in Australia.  All I've definitely been told is that he has language delays, fine motor delays and sensory integration disorder.  

In Australia if you want assistance with special education needs you have to sit a cognitive (IQ) test.  The test is divided into verbal IQ and a nonverbal component called performace IQ, with a combined ouverall IQ score.  Short hand for that is VIQ and PIQ.  If you score below 70 for combined IQ then you are eligible to attend a special school.  There is a special language program that requires a score of at least 85 on his non-verbal test. Because he didn't score that high this avenue is closed. He can also go to a normal school with extra funding.  Alternately he can go part-time to both.  

During the test several of the sections weren't explained properly.  For example in the timed sections he was told to complete the sections "as quickly as possible".  He stopped after completing a couple of rows because he didn't understand that he had to keep going until he was told to stop.  The examiner said she couldn't provide further instructions.  In another section she clearly didn't understand his speech (which is very unclear) and actually terminated the section although he was providing correct answers.

I guess I don't really have a lot to base my thought that he is inteligent on.  He is an observer, he will sit to see what others are doing, figure it out and then do it himself.   My general feeling is that he has come a long way in 3 years and that he was catching up.  

Just not sure what will be the best thing for him.  

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470168 tn?1237471245
From what you have posted, your child might have got a totally different score if the assessor had made sure (because of his language difficulties), that he understood what he should be doing.  They should also have made sure that he didn't have difficulties with Executive Function Disorder.  Google that to see what it is.  But it involves things like planning, organising, sequencing, following instructions etc.  A child with that disorder might even need support to complete an assessment.  If they didn't have that support they would never even get started.
It is like a blind person being given a written test and not being allowed access to braille.  
It is also possible for children to be social and still be on the autistic spectrum.  I am not trying to say that he is, but it all depends on whether his social interactions are 'appropriate'.  Someone with autism can range from not being aware of others to being totally overbearing and bossy and controlling.  Both extremes are inappropriate.
It is also possible to have traits of any disorder (including autism), but not enough of them to get a formal diagnosis.  However their areas of difficulty would still be best supported using the same techniques as if they had received a diagnosis.
It might take a while to tease out what your child's strengths and difficulties are, but keep working on it so that you feel sure that his needs are understood and are being met.
As he also has sensory integration disorder, he may also have speech difficulties(eg. Semantic Pragmatic Disorder) or Auditory Processing Disorder, or Delayed Auditory Processing.  All of these difficulties would impact on his ability to understand and focus on what he should be doing.  If overstimulated he may effectively appear deaf and not even hear the instructions, or may become distracted by some sensory stimulus.  
It might be useful to look at the diagnostic criteria for an autistic spectrum disorder to see what he has in common and what he doesn't.  It maybe that supports that work for those on the spectrum might also be beneficial to your son.
Over on the autism forum, click on the Health Page icon on the top right hand corner of that page.  Go into Behavioural Characteristics Behind a Diagnosis of ASDs (Autistic Spectrum Disorders).  I have posted the DSM IV clinical diagnostic criteria and parents have posted examples of their own children's behaviours that meet the criteria.
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696153 tn?1231605858
(I like your name. Very pretty.) Sally44 is right on the money. My grandson Aidan has classic Autism but he is also very social. Last night he cried because his older cousin had to go home. He'll take his younger brother by the hand and drag him off to play with toys or video games. And that's with classic autism. With Asperger's you have autism with an entirely different set of abilities and challenges.

As far as your son's intelligence goes, I say go with your gut. You know your child better than anyone else. Yes, it could be maternal pride making you see more than is present, but most likely you have watched your little guy problem solving and getting what he wants or needs and realize that it takes intelligence to do so. Besides, expecting and looking for the best is never a bad thing. The more you believe your little man can accomplish, the more he is likely to accomplish.

Our Aidan did not score well on an IQ test, which means just about nothing to us. First of all, he is still waaaay below age level with his language skills, although we believe he will eventually speak well. Secondly, he just isn't going to do anything he doesn't want to do. Now, if they made the IQ test in the form of a video game he just might score in the genius level. LOL

(I went to Aidan's classroom when he was just starting in his special program to observe and pick up interaction tips with him. He went over to the class computer and booted it up. I asked the teacher if that was okay, since it wasn't computer time yet. She confidently told me that he could boot it up but he wouldn't be able to do anything with it. Before I could correct her assumption Aidan had opened up the game he wanted to play and he and his two classmates were clustered around the computer having a ball.)

One thing I wanted to suggest for your child with language development is the PECs system. I don't know how they're handling his speech program, but PECs made an absolutely HUGE difference for Aidan. It's a picture based language system but it frequently leads to verbal speech too. It's particularly helpful for children with autism because many of them tend to think in pictures rather than words. I know that there's no diagnosis of autism in your son's case, but it couldn't hurt and could be a breakthrough, so I suggested it. The pictures are also used in "prompting" charts that help him transition during the day. He has one at home that he uses to get ready for school. He has a book at school that he uses to learn  sentence structure and it brought him from non-verbal to able to request what he wants in less than a year. He still needs work, but now he talks a fair amount and rarely resorts to pictures. He's figured out that speech is a handy thing for getting what you want.

So I encourage you, don't take the test to heart if your Mommy-instincts say it is probably wrong, and look up the Picture Exchange System online and check it out. (There are websites with free pictures if you're interested in it, you don't have to buy anything if can't afford it.)
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