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Table of Contents
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 48-51

Difference in the cognitive profile of children with specific learning disabilities


1 Department of Clinical Psychology, Santhosh Deemed to be University, Gaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Department of Clinical Psychology, Institute for Communicative and Cognitive Neurosciences, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

Date of Submission13-Apr-2022
Date of Decision20-Apr-2022
Date of Acceptance25-Apr-2022
Date of Web Publication21-Jul-2022

Correspondence Address:
Varghese Mathew
Department of Clinical Psychology, Santosh Deemed to be University, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/sujhs.sujhs_16_22

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  Abstract 


Context: Specific learning disabilities (SLDs) is a neurodevelopment disorder characterized by normal intelligence, and marked difficulty in academics and scholastic performance, thereby expressing gross discrepancy in the ability and achievement. Children with SLD have a typical cognitive profile. Like among the normal children, variance in the distribution of the intelligence is also observed among the children with SLD.
Aims: The present study intends to categorize the children with SLD based on the intelligence quotient (IQ) and compare it with the nonlearning disabled (NLD) and further explore the cognitive profile associated with the respective category of SLD children.
Settings and Design: In the present study, three groups of children in the age range of 8 to 12 years studying in 3 to 7th standard were selected as the sample for the study.
Subjects and Methods: Seventy-seven children with SLD and 24 NLD children were tested for their IQ using the Wechsler's Intelligence Scale for children-IV. Seventy-seven children with SLD were categorized into two groups based on their Full-Scale IQ (FSIQ). The results were statistically analyzed and compared.
Statistical Analysis: Independent sample t-test was used for the statistical analysis.
Results: It was found that 58.4% of children with SLD had the FSIQ below 90 and 41.6% of children with SLD represented with the FSIQ as above 90. Both the groups of SLD children were compared with the NLD group. The significant difference is observed in the cognitive proficiency index (CPI) and general ability index (GAI). The SLD children of FSIQ below 90 had deficits in the domain of CPI and GAI and the SLD children with FSIQ above 90 had deficits in the area of CPI alone. The GAI and CPI of these children were further analyzed to reveal that the SLD children with FSIQ above 90 had difficulty in the area of working memory.
Conclusion: The SLD may be represented as two different categories based on the cognitive profile. One category of children with SLD has their problems and difficulties confined to the domain of the working memory, while the other category of children has difficulty in the area of both GAI and CPI indicating difficulty in perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed.

Keywords: Cognitive proficiency index, general ability index, specific learning disorder, Wechsler's intelligence scale for children-IV


How to cite this article:
Mathew V, Srivastava R, Nair AK. Difference in the cognitive profile of children with specific learning disabilities. Santosh Univ J Health Sci 2022;8:48-51

How to cite this URL:
Mathew V, Srivastava R, Nair AK. Difference in the cognitive profile of children with specific learning disabilities. Santosh Univ J Health Sci [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 8];8:48-51. Available from: http://www.sujhs.org/text.asp?2022/8/1/48/351564




  Introduction Top


Children with learning disability face difficulty in scholastic performance despite possessing average intelligence. Learning disability presents as a complex and multidimensional disorder, specifically affecting the cognitive domains of an individual, leading to gross and specific difficulty in scholastic development and ability.[1] The cognitive functions of the children with specific learning disabilities (SLD) play a significant role in determining, the severity, and the type of learning disability, and in planning specific interventions.[2] A child with SLD has a typical cognitive profile and is quite different from children without learning disabilities nonlearning disabled (NLD) children.[3] Intelligence quotient (IQ) has been used among children with SLD to identify the discrepancy between intelligence and academic achievement.[4] There are studies which state that full-scale IQ (FSIQ) can vary and it cannot be a true representation of a child's intellectual level.[5] Wechsler's intelligence scale for children-IV (WISC-IV) emphasizes on the four domains: the verbal comprehension index (VCI), perceptual reasoning index (PRI), working memory index (WMI), and processing speed index (PSI) than the FSIQ. They suggest that other measures of the index scores should be given due importance than the FSIQ during the clinical evaluation and assessment. Other than the four domains, another two global indexes derived from the WISC-IV, the general ability index (GAI) representing the VCI combined with the PRI, and the cognitive proficiency index (CPI) representing the WMI with the PSI is gaining more importance.[6]

The aim of the present study is to explore the cognitive profile of children with SLD based on the FSIQ categorization. The study explores the cognitive profile of two categories of children with SLD, namely children who have FSIQ above 90 and children who have FSIQ <90. The cognitive profile of the two groups of SLD children is different. This difference in the cognitive profile paves the way for determining different approaches and methods of intervention.


  Subjects and Methods Top


The sample for the study comprises 77 children with SLD, selected using the purposive sampling method, from the outpatient clinic of The Institute for Communicative and Cognitive Neurosciences (ICCONS). A group of 24 NLD children comprises the comparison group. The socioeconomic status and other parameters are matched in accordance with the study group. The assessment of all the 101 children for their IQ is done using the WISC-IV (Indian Adaptation). Before the assessment, the informed consent is taken from the parents and the child using a printed consent form. The WISC-IV is structured on the basis of four indexed variables, considering the main factors of intelligence (1) The VCI which measures abilities of verbal reasoning and verbal comprehension, and includes the subtests of similarities, vocabulary, and comprehension. (2) The PRI that measures the abilities of abstract problem solving and the nonverbal manipulation of concepts and includes the subtests of block design, picture concepts, and matrix reasoning. (3) The WMI is the score that defines the capacity for the retention and manipulation of the verbal material for a short period. The WMI accounts to the combined score of the digit span and letter-number sequencing subtests. (4) The PSI measures the ability for responding promptly and focus and sustain attention on a task. It includes the subtest coding and symbol search. Two additional indexes were taken by calculating the four indexes; the GAI is calculated from the VCI and PRI scores, and the CPI is calculated from the WMI and PSI scores. These scores were subjected to the statistical analysis and interpretation.[7]


  Results Top


[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3 depict the comparison of the results of the four domains and the FSIQ, GAI, and CPI scores for the three groups of children mentioned in the study children with SLD who have FSIQ below 90, children with SLD who have FSIQ above 90, and NLD children. [Figure 1] depicts the four index scores along with the FSIQ, the GAI, and the CPI. The results show that the children with SLD who have FSIQ below 90 have uniformly below average score in the GAI (89.41) and CPI (85.67) and low score in PRI, PSI, and WMI. The children with SLD who have FSIQ above 90 have deficit in the CPI alone, with a relatively low score of 95.48 and these children are, affected in the domain of working memory alone. The three groups are compared using the independent sample t-test to find the statistically significant difference between the groups with regard to the four domains of WISC, GAI, and CPI. The children with SLD (above 90) and the NLD children are when compared the t-value shows that there is a significant difference in VCI and WMI scores but no significant difference in the PRI and the PSI scores. The difference between the children with SLD who have FSIQ below 90 and above 90 shows significant differences in all four domains and both CPI and GAI.
Table 1: Mean, standard deviation, and t of the specific learning disabilities below intelligence quotient 90 and nonlearning disabled group

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Table 2: Mean, standard deviation, and t of the nonlearning disabled and specific learning disabilities above intelligence quotient 90 group

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Table 3: Mean standard deviation and t of the specific learning disabilities below and above intelligence quotient 90 groups

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Figure 1: Mean score of the three groups

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  Discussion Top


The results indicate that 58.4% of children with SLD (N-45) have the FSIQ below 90 and 41.6% of children with SLD (N-32) represent with the FSIQ as above 90. These two groups present different intellectual profile.

When the children with SLD who have FSIQ below 90 and NLD children are compared, there was a significant difference in all the variables at 0.01 level. The SLD children have uniformly below average score in the GAI as well as CPI and low scores in PRI, PSI, and WMI.

The comparison of the four domains of the SLD children (IQ above 90) and NLD children show significant difference at 0.01 level in the WMI scores, and 0.05 level differences in the VCI score and no significant difference in the PRI and PSI scores. Children with SLD have only below average score in the area of WMI (89.69), and all other domains have average scores when compared with that of NLD children. This indicates that, keeping aside the FSIQ, the CPI is the only area that is affected in children with SLD above 90 FSIQ when compared with the NLD children. The subcomponent of the CPI, these children are, significantly affected in the area of working memory alone. This indicates that working memory deficiency presents itself with gross difficulty in learning and academic performance. Children who have working memory deficit demand for a different kind of approach and intervention focusing precisely on the cognitive domain of working memory. Intervention strategies to enhance attention, executive functions, and working memory should be the primary focus of intervention among these children. A new definition to describe and categorize these children as a different group of learning difficulty would help in differentiating such children from the typical kind of children with SLD. When comparing the scores of the variables PRI and PSI between the SLD and NLD children the result shows no significant differences. When we refer the obtained scores of the SLD children with that of the test norm it falls in the range of average, indicating no gross deficit in verbal comprehension (VCI). This means that language area measured by the VCI is not affected and is similar to that of NLD children. This is evident that the language faculty, which includes vocabulary, similarities and analogy, and language comprehension, is intact. The main cause for the poor academic performance is due to the poor working memory skills. Looking at the cognitive profile it is indicative that the difficulty confronted by these children center around reading, writing, and spelling due to poor working memory.[8],[9],[10]

The cognitive profile of the SLD children of IQ below 90 when compared with that of SLD children who have IQ above 90, the GAI score and CPI score are statistically significantly different, which means that children who have IQ below 90 have difficulty in perceptual reasoning, working memory and processing speed equally. The subcomponent of the GAI, which involves VCI and PRI, among these children shows that the perceptual reasoning skills are, affected when compared to the verbal skills. The working memory is affected among these children and their academic difficulty is attributable to the working memory issues and processing speed. Cornoldi et al., hypothesized that children with SLD have higher GAI score and deficiencies in working memory and processing speed and says that low FSIQ may be attributed to the low score in working memory and processing speed.[11]

A discrepancy between the GAI and CPI is evident in both the SLD groups. Bremner et al. state that children with SLD who has a cognitive profile in the borderline level; the children with a significant discrepancy in the GAI and CPI scores, should be considered for a diagnosis of SLD and children with an FSIQ above 70 without any discrepancies between the index scores should be diagnosed for borderline intellectual functioning.[12] Giofre et al. (2017) state that significant discrepancies can emerge within the WISC profile. They also states that the FSIQ obtained for the SLD children may not be the true measure of intellectual functioning.[13] The intervention plan for SLD should consider, the discrepancy between the GAI and the CPI, as, the GAI and CPI provide valid information on the cognitive profile of the children with SLD.[11]


  Conclusion Top


The two categories of children with SLD have two different intellectual profiles. Children with FSIQ above 90 have low scores in the area of working memory. These children comparatively have less difficulty in language and language-related skills; on the other hand, the children with FSIQ <90, are, affected in the area of working memory, processing speed, and perceptual reasoning skills. The low score in the IQ of children below 90 is attributable to the deficit in the GAI as well as CPI. The findings suggest and demand for two different kinds of intervention for the two categories of children.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the director ICCONS and Institution Ethics Committee for granting permission for conducting the study.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Fletcher JM, Lyon GR, Barnes M, Stuebing K, Francis D, Olson R, et al. Classification of Learning Disabilities: An Evidence Based Evaluation: Identification of Learning Disabilities: Research to Practice; 2001. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232512540. [Last accessed on 2019 Oct 14].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
National Association of Special Education Teachers. Characteristics of Children with Learning Disabilities. Available from: http://www.naset.org. [Last accessed on 2015 Dec 28].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Compton DL, Fuchs LS, Fuchs D, Lambert W, Hamlett C. The cognitive and academic profiles of reading and mathematics learning disabilities. J Learn Disabil 2012;45:79-95.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Fuchs D, Fuchs LS. Introduction to response to intervention: What, why, and how valid is it? Read Res Q 2006;41:93-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Fiorello CA, Hale JB, Holdnack JA, Kavanagh JA, Terrell J, Long L. Interpreting intelligence test results for children with disabilities: Is global intelligence relevant? Appl Neuropsychol 2007;14:2-12.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Saklofske DH, Coalson DL, Raiford SE, Weiss LG. Cognitive proficiency index for the Canadian edition of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for children-fourth edition. Can J Sch Psychol 2010;25:277-86.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Wechsler D. WISC-IV Technical and Interpretive Manual. San Antonio: PsychCorp Pearson; 2003.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Swanson HL, Ashbaker MH. Working memory, short-term memory, speech rate, word recognition and reading comprehension in learning disabled readers: Does the executive system have a role? Intelligence 2000;28:1-30.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Alloway TP, Alloway RG. Investigating the predictive role of working memory and IQ in academic attainment. J Exp Child Psychol 2010;106:20-9.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Poletti M. WISC-IV intellectual profiles in Italian children with specific learning disorder and related impairments in reading, written expression, and mathematics. J Learn Disabil 2016;49:320-35.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Cornoldi C, Giofrè D, Orsini A, Pezzuti L. Differences in the intellectual profile of children with intellectual vs. learning disability. Res Dev Disabil 2014;35:2224-30.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Bremner D, McTaggart B, Saklofske DH, Janzen T. WISC-IV GAI and CPI in psychoeducational assessment. Can J Sch Psychol 2011;26:209-19.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Giofre D, Toffalini E, Altoe G, Cornoldi C. Intelligence measures as diagnostic tools for children with specific learning disability. Intelligence 2017;61:140-5.  Back to cited text no. 13
    


    Figures

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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]



 

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