Factors associated with a verbal-performance IQ score discrepancy in emotionally disturbed children



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The following general hypothesis was investigated: There are three distinct groups among emotionally disturbed children-- those who score significantly higher on Verbal subtests than on Performance tasks, those who score higher on the Performance subtests, and those who do equally well on both; these groups differ reliably in terms of certain demographic, case history, behavioral, and symptomatic factors. In a pilot study the case files of 45 children in psychiatric treatment, ages 5 to 15, were divided into three groups, formed on the basis of a minimum 20-point discrepancy on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WTSC) in favor of either the Verbal or Performance section, for each of two groups, and a maximum 5-point discrepancy for the third group. These groups were compared with regard to a large number of interview and case history variables. While it was originally planned to match subjects for sex and age, it soon became apparent that these variables were not randomly distributed among the three groups. They were therefore included among the factors to be compared across the groups. Specific hypotheses were formed from the results of this study and tested in a cross-validation study of three equivalent groups of 30 subjects each. Results support the general hypothesis; the following specific findings lead to this contention. The high-Verbal group consisted of older children who achieved higher intelligence test scores, and whose records reflected advanced speech development in infancy, higher value placed on education in the family, more highly educated mothers, more Jewish families, a stronger likelihood that the subject is an older child in the family, more first- or second-generation- American parents, more advanced readers, less willingness of the parents to divulge information about themselves or their family, and fewer histories of allergies. The records of the high-Performance group were characterized by relatively early motor development as measured by onset of sitting and walking, a larger proportion of females, larger families, more reading difficulties, and the least amount of emphasis placed on education in the family scheme. The 'Equal' group was found to be the least fortunate of the three. They were the youngest and least intelligent group, and their records reflected greater frequency of occurrence of the following symptoms: temper tantrums, dawdling and inattentiveness, allergies, and sleeping with one or both parents. All groups were found to do best on WISC subtests involving integrated learning, concept formation, visual organization, and planning ability; they did least well on tasks primarily requiring attention and concentration. Results were discussed with a view toward treatment implications. The finding that the Equal group was apparently the most severely impaired led to a 'Jack-of-all-trades' interpretation, in which this group was seen as not having a well-developed area of interest or competency that would facilitate the occurrence of healthy, adaptive experiences. The results support the view that a Verbal-Performance IQ score discrepancy is a reflection of a basic personality adaptation rooted in highly developed skills in the area of the higher score, rather than being indicative of some relatively transient pathology which creates a depression in the area of the lower.



Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children., Children with mental disabilities.