ADHD and Evaluation Scores

A large gap between a child's verbal and performance scores begs for an interpretation.
My son was tested 3 years ago to rule out a disability. On the WISC III, he received a verbal score of 123 and a performance score of 102 -- a difference of 21 points! Based on what I've read, my son may fit the category of dual exceptionality. The school psychologist is not open to this idea, since he has been diagnosed as ADHD -- based on his distractibility and inability to complete tasks that he doesn't like. He's very artistic and can spend lots of time putting Legos and other complicated things together.

Now that he's on medication for ADHD, is it reasonable to retest him since he scored so high on his verbal portion of the WISC III? I think he may be gifted.

The large gap between your son's verbal and performance scores begs for an interpretation, and in my view, ADHD is probably not a sufficient explanation. It is true that if he was so distractible or so cognitively disorganized during the performance tests due to his untreated ADHD, it could certainly account for some of the variability. I'd have to see the rest of his test results and see how he did on other attention-sensitive tests.

If your son it the kind of student who needs to be academically challenged, the ADHD symptoms he exhibits may, in fact, be his quest for stimulation and challenge. If your son truly has ADHD and was tested before he began taking the medication, it would be entirely reasonable to have him retested to get a better picture of his true abilities. This is especially true if you feel the medication has helped him. If the psychologist who tested your son in the first place is not open to this, get him tested elsewhere -- preferably by someone who knows giftedness when they see it.

Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is the founding clinical director of the Learning Lab @ Lesley University, a program that provides assessment, tutoring, and case management services for children with learning challenges. Schultz holds a Ph.D. from Boston College, and has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.