Cognitive and psychosocial characteristics of gifted students with written language disability. Assouline, S. Foley Nicpon, M., & Whiteman, C. (2010)

Gifted Child Quarterly, 54(2), 102-115. doi:10.1177/0016986209355974

Reflections

I found the large percentage of students served under IDEA in 2001 to be interesting. From Table 1 below, students with specific learning disabilities (SLD) took up almost 50 percent of all students served under IDEA and represented six percent of the United states student population. This is followed by speech or language impairments at almost nineteen percent. Students served through an Autism diagnosis was less than two percent of IDEA population. Looking up statistics for more recent IDEA statistics, I came across the 2017-2018 statistics for IDEA population through the National Center for Educational Statistics website.

Figure 1 above, was copied from their website for easy viewing. From figure 1, in 2017-2018, SLD students now represent 34 percent of IDEA population, followed by stable number of speech or language impairments at 19 percent. The third highest category is now “other health impairment” at 14 percent. Autism is now at 10 percent, an almost five fold increase between 2001 and 2018. Developmental delay is another category that seem to have increased dramatically in that time period. Total students serviced have increased from almost six millim to seven million, while the total percentage of IDEA students remain fairly stable from about 12 percent in 2001 to 14 percent in 2018.  I would use such tables to bring up questions on identification and prevalence. For example, is it possible the SLD students have become less over time or are now becoming less identified with the options  of moving towards alternative ways of identification of SLD (e.g RTL) from traditional individualized standardized assessments? Has prevalence of autism increased more than five fold or are there better assessment tools or changes in diagnostic criteria? 

The second item I found particularly useful from reading the Assouline et. al (2010) article was the applicability of using case study examples in conjunction with empirical findings, especially with the 2e population.  The specific profiles of ability-achievement discrepancies of individuals often will end up presenting the same average ability and achievement scores. However, the specific profiles of discrepancies often require different programming in order for the student to flourish. Andy’s story used in the article served to paint a fuller snapshot picture of what 2E students might be going through in a single time and also over time. I would use this method in particular to highlight a few case study of student with similar average scores but with different ability and achievement profiles to illustrate the need for individualized considerations and then applicable programming can be utilized. 

Another thing that stood out to me is the very different SLD that are all under that general grouping. I suspect that programming vary between verbal, non-verbal, computational versus fluency discrepancies. With SLD students served under IDEA ranging between one third to almost half of all eligible students, it is important to use current research findings to write a grant that will allow recruitment of large numbers of subjects in order to have enough subjects to see if there are any meaningful patterns for specific SLD.  

Last but not least, the confusing varying standards between federal, state definitions of IDEA versus clinical/medical definitions of LD, may unfairly impact 2E students whereby they have to wait till they demonstrate academic or behavior failures at school before they may qualify for any accomodation and programing. The confusing “paradox” between the large discrepancies uncovered through clinical  diagnostic assessments and the lag time for learning difficulties  to surface in school setting where grades are below average enough to warrant concern or intervention is very troubling to me. In my son’s case, the more than 75 points discrepancy in his WISC verbal and processing speed,  and his very uneven performance within WJ III and WIAT-III and especially large discrepancy between ability and achievement uncovered in 2nd grade has yet to “manifest” in school academics by 5th grade when we pulled him out to attend private school. His school grades were still in the top 25th percentile at 5th grade. However, I can anticipate increasing academic challenges at the end of middle school or in high school, if he was not given the tools to transition from using his intellect to compensate for his deficits, to learning more long term sustainable skills such as using technology, organizational skills, help asking skills, self-awareness and socio-emotional training.

Reference

National Center for Educational Statistics (2019, May).  The condition of education: children and youth With disabilities. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgg.asp

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