interpret low digit span score on WISC IV

Posted by: jimmyy

interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 06/01/11 08:20 PM

Hi all, just discovered this forum a few days ago. May I ask a question on how to interpret low digit span score from my son's WISC IV test?

My son is 9 yr old. He did WISC IV test this past weekend and got the following score:
VCI: 146
Similarities: 18
Vocabulary: 18
Comprehension:17
PRI: 143
Block Design: 17
Picture Concepts: 17
Matrix Reasoning: 17
WMI: 129
Arithmetic: 17
Digit Span: 9
Letter-Number Seq: 13
PSI: 128
Coding: 15
Symbol Search: 15

FSIQ: 148

It seems Digit Span score is real low. How to interpret this? What is the symptom/consequence of this? Anything needs
to be concerned? The testing school psychologist said nothing
to be worried. But still I am wondering if the experienced parents may have seen this kind of "pattern"? Thanks very much.
Posted by: ukmum

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 06/02/11 11:13 AM

Hi How is your son progressing? Is it as you would expect with this IQ or do you think the digit span is causing any problems with short term auditory memory for example? Sorry I dont have any answers for you.

My son had a similar result although all his scores were slightly lower than your sons with his top being comprehension at 17 and digit span of 8 being the lowest.

Our ed psych in the UK didnt suggest any concerns about this disparity but my son aged 6 is still unable to write. He refuses to try at school and still even reverses the letters in his own first name! He reads well though.

I understand that digit span is ofter lower in children with high verbal IQ but I would like to know what recommendations, if any an ed psych should/could make with this disparity of result to best help.
Posted by: Grinity

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 06/02/11 11:38 AM

Originally Posted By: jimmyy
WMI: 129
Arithmetic: 17
Digit Span: 9
Letter-Number Seq: 13
PSI: 128
Coding: 15
Symbol Search: 15

Welcome Jimmyy!
Did they tell you that your sons score is really unusually high? Also unsually well balanced for scores that high - even with the 'lowish' Digit Span.

I wouldn't worry about the Digit Span unless you are slapping your head and saying 'So that's why when I tell him to brush his teeth, change into pajamas, feed the dog, lay out clothing for the next day, read to his little brother, and go to bed, he always leaves one step out!' The reason I'm not so concerned is that the other WM scores are very high, and the Speed index is high as well. But if you think you see an issue, tell us, and we'll help figure it out. WMI and PSI are rather randomly distributed compared to VCI and PRI, which are felt to reflect intellectual strength.

Are you in the U.S.? If so I would apply to DYS program. How are things going at school for your son? Does he have special educational needs due to his IQ strengths? There are a few school districts in the US where scores like your son's aren't unusual - a few. Otherwise finding academic peers amoung agemates can be tough.

Welcome!
Grinity
Posted by: jimmyy

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 06/02/11 08:08 PM

Thanks ukmum, I don't have specific concerns related to digit span right now. But My son's handwriting is just average though.

Thanks Grinity. We live in Chicago. The reason I did this private WISC testing is that my son does not have friends in school. It seems that he has below-average ability to make friends. Other than this, he is doing well in school even though he says he learns little from school. He basically reads a lot himself all the time and has a lot of math work from home. As part of the WISC test, he also got scores on WIAT-II: Word Reading 117 and Math Reasoning 151.

Having read the forum for a few days now, would the discrepancy between VCI/PRI and WMI/PSD become some kind of "bottleneck"? It also seems making friends is not easy for some gifted children, right?

We are also thinking of looking for a school where they may have special program for gifted children.
Posted by: Grinity

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 06/03/11 03:42 AM

Originally Posted By: jimmyy
my son does not have friends in school. It seems that he has below-average ability to make friends.


I wouldn't be so quick to jump to this conclusion when looking at the information you have presented. He may be above-average in ability, but be placed in a situation that even overcomes those 'above-average' skills.

Having an IQ that is 3 to 4 SD beyond the other kids isn't exactly like being 3 or 4 years older, but it is close enough for a thought experiment to get an example of what I mean from above.

Let's say that one of the more ND (normally developing) kids in his classroom, age 6, returns to school in September 2011 to find that she has been placed in a preK room with 3 year olds. No explanation. The teachers don't seem to recognize that her readiness to learn zone is 3 years advance of the other children so all the daily activities are appropriate to ND 3 year olds. How would an average 6 year old with average 'friend making' abilities do? Zoom forward in time 7 months and the situation is the same - how is our thought experiment child doing now?

If you compare how your son has done to the child in the thought experiment, you might decide he has above average 'friend-making' skills.

We have a few posters from Chicago. You might find that on a playdate with one of those children, your son looks like a completely different kid. Chicago also has 'Saturday enrichment classes' that might have kids who have 'playdate potential.'

Handwriting at age-average is totally normal for gifties - although there are a few who are well above average. This is where the above 'age+3' analogy breaks down. Some have above average athletic ability, and some have 'just' age-average.

Good luck with the school search. Remember that some local public district in the Chicago area have many gifted kids in them, and that a private school that markets itself to 'the gifted' may not have more advanced kids than your local public school. What you want is a school that can recognize advanced abstract reasoning skill in young children and a school that is Flexible. A school that can look at the test scores and say - Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work modifying our offerings. It's not unusual for PG kids to need a full grade skip and a subject acceleration or two while at a private school for gifted - because PGs are so rare that who could make a living restricting a private school to just PG kids?

If I ran a Gifted school, the first thing I would do is sit down with the child and the end of year tests and see what level the child is at in each subject. I wouldn't assume that age is a good proxy for readiness to learn level.

Love and More Love,
Grinity
Posted by: jimmyy

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 06/03/11 05:12 PM

LittleCherub, the tester just said she did not use the lowest Digit Span score. I could have asked why if I had read this forum ahead. I suspect myself this number maybe abnormal for whatever reason.

Thanks Dottie. Actually I don't observe my son's short term memory is bad. He can do multiple step math word problems in his head.

Thanks Grinity. I get your point. I will have to spend time looking for playmates for him.

Posted by: Grinity

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 06/05/11 06:21 AM

Here are some of my favorite books for helping parents help their kids develop social skills. Some of my friends have reported seeing great gains from professionally lead social skills therapy groups - sometimes called 'friendship groups.'

Friends Forever: How Parents Can Help Their Kids Make and Keep Good Friends by
Fred Frankel

and
http://www.amazon.com/Transforming-Diffi...;sr=1-1-catcorr

Between those 2 you'll have plenty to get started with!
Love and More Love,
Grinity
Posted by: August

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 06/10/11 11:42 AM

Hi I'm new here, and just wondering with issues of LD, does anyone know what the rarity of a 16 point subtest scatter is? My son received three 19s on the WISC IV and has a GAI of 99.9%. But he also received a 3 in coding. How many children out of 1000 have such a spread? I'd like to know because I'm about to start advocating at my son's school. I'm told lots of children are gifted/ld. But this extreme?
Posted by: chris1234

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 06/14/11 01:17 AM

August, welcome, you might need to start a new thread for this to get good answers...the scores you describe sound pretty rare to me, might be more of a 'how many in 10,000' thing. But I am not really that in the know to confirm this.
I will say there is a thread around here about shockingly-low coding scores and whether that correlates to a 'type' of kid or learner (my son has a pretty low coding score). I'll see if I can dig it up.
Posted by: KateZ

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 06/14/11 10:25 AM

I took a WAIS (adult version of the WISC) given by a friend who was a grad student in clinical psychology. I scored way, way, way below normal on digit span. It was terrible.

The consequence of this for me has been nothing. I don't remember phone numbers well. That's about it.

I scored very well on all of my college entrance tests, and on my LSAT and on the GREs. I am an attorney who graduated in the top 10% of my law school class. I have a successful career.

Don't sweat it.

Posted by: Aimee Yermish

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 09/05/11 01:13 PM

August, I'm coming in very late here, just happened to notice this... Yes, it's very rare. I could look it up in the norming tables, but it's very very rare. I would want to know, though, what the kid was actually doing during that subtest, particularly if Symbol Search was in line with the rest of the tests. Sometimes kids are being extremely perfectionistic and sometimes they're being downright not particularly compliant with the task... I would have expected a tester to address that in a report.
Posted by: Mom2MrQ

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 09/13/11 09:02 PM

Originally Posted By: August
My son received three 19s on the WISC IV and has a GAI of 99.9%. But he also received a 3 in coding.


My ds is in that >99.9% range, too, and he scored a 5 in coding. Would LOVE to get more info on this, too. Does anyone know where the old 'coding' thread is that chris1234 mentioned?
Posted by: aculady

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 09/13/11 10:29 PM

I think it may be here:

http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/BB/ubbthreads.php/topics/46560/1.html

Posted by: Mom2MrQ

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 09/14/11 01:17 PM

Originally Posted By: aculady


I cannot thank you enough for posting this link. It has taken me several hours of reading this in spurts to get through it, but I was giddy after the first page. The first two pages of this describe my own son perfectly. It's stunning. It was started two years ago. I'm wondering what has happened with these children since then. I may have to revive it and ask. Again, I'm very thankful for this lank. smile
Posted by: Born2Learn

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 09/14/12 03:40 PM

This is really of interest to me! I wish I could find a way to improve my son's working memory and processing speed. He has difficulty with handwriting and speech. We have had evaluations for Visual Therapy - which was a recommendation by the test proctor because some of the issues with Coding, Sequencing, and Digit Span are some how related. Our scores are as follows:

VC 146+ 99.9
PR 147+ 99.9
WM 107 68
PS 106 66
FSIQ 138+ 99
General Ability Index 157+ >99.9
Similarities 20+ >99.9
Vocabulary 15 95
Comprehension 18+ >99.9
Block Design 14 91
Picture Concepts 15 95
Maxtrix Reasoning 24+ >99.9
Digit Span 12
Letter-Number Sequencing 10
Coding 10
Symbol Search 12

Our test stated that Digit Span is given for diagnositc purposes only. But not used in calculation of Composit or the IQ Score. The + was that discontinuation criteria was not reached.

I feel like we need to address working memory and processing speed. My concern based upon learn term testing that this will have residual affects in standardized test when he is older. I am not an expert in these areas and I read all that I can find. I would be interested in seeing if anyone with older children have had simular experiences.
Posted by: polarbear

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 09/14/12 05:38 PM

I'm in a bit of a rush so can't answer in detail now, but fwiw our ds12 (dysgraphic, + a few other things including an expressive language disorder) has similar scores and discrepancies (his processing speed is a little lower, wm a little higher). How old is your ds?

Our ds has had remediation and accommodations for handwriting and expressive language - I can come back later this weekend and post more info if it would be helpful re the challenges he's had and the type of accommodations he uses now in 7th grade - not sure what age "older" you're looking for input from?

polarbear
Posted by: Born2Learn

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 09/14/12 08:47 PM

yes, thank you Polar Bear!!! Our DS is 7, in second grade. And, the last two years have been so challenging. Please feel free to inbox me too!
Posted by: rectina

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 11/09/12 10:16 PM

I understand that digit span is ofter lower in children with high verbal IQ
Posted by: Irena

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 08/14/13 02:13 PM

Just wanted to add some new (to me anyway!) information regarding low digit span to this thread for those researching. My son had/has an exceeding low digit span score. When I looked more closely at his scores, it was clear that the forward digit span was fine the first time he tested and quite high the second time he tested (first time on WISC, second time a year later with SB-V). However, his overall digit span score was still quite low. Why? Because he was almost incapable of doing the digit span backwards. I searched high and low for reasons for this and all I ever heard was it is a sign of ADHD. I really do not feel in my gut like my son has ADHD. I believe there is a problem, but I just simply do not see adhd in him. (And I fear that the jump to ADHD is so easy and will prevent the 'true' problem from being addressed.) Recently, my son was formally diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos and the geneticist said Developmental Coordination Disorder (a/k/a dyspraxia) is very often co-morbid. Well, I started researching DCD/dyspraxia. I am just reading a book called "Understanding Developmental Dyspraxia - A textbook for Students and Professionals" by Madeline Portwood. According to the book, digits forward and digit backwards may involve different cognitive processes, especially in certain clinical groups and that studies show that the performance of dyspraxic youngsters highlights significant weakness in repeating the digits backwards. So, I just wanted to add that info here. Low digit span can indicate ADHD but, particularly in cases where the child struggles with the backwards digits, it is part of the profile of a dysraxic child as well.
Posted by: blackcat

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 10/15/13 07:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Irena
Just wanted to add some new (to me anyway!) information regarding low digit span to this thread for those researching. My son had/has an exceeding low digit span score. When I looked more closely at his scores, it was clear that the forward digit span was fine the first time he tested and quite high the second time he tested (first time on WISC, second time a year later with SB-V). However, his overall digit span score was still quite low. Why? Because he was almost incapable of doing the digit span backwards. I searched high and low for reasons for this and all I ever heard was it is a sign of ADHD. I really do not feel in my gut like my son has ADHD. I believe there is a problem, but I just simply do not see adhd in him. (And I fear that the jump to ADHD is so easy and will prevent the 'true' problem from being addressed.) Recently, my son was formally diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos and the geneticist said Developmental Coordination Disorder (a/k/a dyspraxia) is very often co-morbid. Well, I started researching DCD/dyspraxia. I am just reading a book called "Understanding Developmental Dyspraxia - A textbook for Students and Professionals" by Madeline Portwood. According to the book, digits forward and digit backwards may involve different cognitive processes, especially in certain clinical groups and that studies show that the performance of dyspraxic youngsters highlights significant weakness in repeating the digits backwards. So, I just wanted to add that info here. Low digit span can indicate ADHD but, particularly in cases where the child struggles with the backwards digits, it is part of the profile of a dysraxic child as well.


What is a normal digit span going backwards? I guess I have no idea. DD is ADHD and SLOW like a slug in school. I am very worried about her working memory and processing speed. However, I remember when she was 3-4 years old she was able to repeat 4 numbers backwards. Now a few years later it is more like 5 (although I haven't tried it in a while). I think DS (who is dyspraxic and possibly ADHD as well) can easily do 4 digits backwards but his digit span score was only average on the WISC which is why I'm wondering what is normal (he is 6 years old). He was extremely whipped up during testing though and I'm not sure how accurate the results are. Are 6 year olds expected to easily repeat 4 numbers backwards?
Posted by: HappilyMom

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 10/15/13 09:32 PM

Irena-- Interesting. My son is "high avg" for digit span which is low comparatively but miles above both our PSI subtests. (His working memory is only a tad over one SD below his VCI.) This despite his very clear ADHD profile and diagnosis as well as his Dyspraxia. I usually find your son right in line with mine so I find this difference curious and wonder what is the functional difference between them that creates that variance. It's got my curiosity working. Thanks for sharing this.
Posted by: Irena

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 10/16/13 06:15 AM

Originally Posted By: blackcat
Originally Posted By: Irena
Just wanted to add some new (to me anyway!) information regarding low digit span to this thread for those researching. My son had/has an exceeding low digit span score. When I looked more closely at his scores, it was clear that the forward digit span was fine the first time he tested and quite high the second time he tested (first time on WISC, second time a year later with SB-V). However, his overall digit span score was still quite low. Why? Because he was almost incapable of doing the digit span backwards. I searched high and low for reasons for this and all I ever heard was it is a sign of ADHD. I really do not feel in my gut like my son has ADHD. I believe there is a problem, but I just simply do not see adhd in him. (And I fear that the jump to ADHD is so easy and will prevent the 'true' problem from being addressed.) Recently, my son was formally diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos and the geneticist said Developmental Coordination Disorder (a/k/a dyspraxia) is very often co-morbid. Well, I started researching DCD/dyspraxia. I am just reading a book called "Understanding Developmental Dyspraxia - A textbook for Students and Professionals" by Madeline Portwood. According to the book, digits forward and digit backwards may involve different cognitive processes, especially in certain clinical groups and that studies show that the performance of dyspraxic youngsters highlights significant weakness in repeating the digits backwards. So, I just wanted to add that info here. Low digit span can indicate ADHD but, particularly in cases where the child struggles with the backwards digits, it is part of the profile of a dysraxic child as well.


What is a normal digit span going backwards? I guess I have no idea. DD is ADHD and SLOW like a slug in school. I am very worried about her working memory and processing speed. However, I remember when she was 3-4 years old she was able to repeat 4 numbers backwards. Now a few years later it is more like 5 (although I haven't tried it in a while). I think DS (who is dyspraxic and possibly ADHD as well) can easily do 4 digits backwards but his digit span score was only average on the WISC which is why I'm wondering what is normal (he is 6 years old). He was extremely whipped up during testing though and I'm not sure how accurate the results are. Are 6 year olds expected to easily repeat 4 numbers backwards?


I have no idea either, unfortunately ... it seems difficult to find info on the digit span test and the different cognitive processes involved and what the test means.

My DS's WM is superior now so I am really befuddled. When he was last evaluated it came up as superior on the WISC IV but I just realized I do not know the breakdown of how he did on numbers reversed and forward. I do remember at 6 DS could usually do 3 numbers backwards but he did struggle with 4 backwards...
Posted by: Irena

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 10/16/13 06:19 AM

Originally Posted By: HappilyMom
Irena-- Interesting. My son is "high avg" for digit span which is low comparatively but miles above both our PSI subtests. (His working memory is only a tad over one SD below his VCI.) This despite his very clear ADHD profile and diagnosis as well as his Dyspraxia. I usually find your son right in line with mine so I find this difference curious and wonder what is the functional difference between them that creates that variance. It's got my curiosity working. Thanks for sharing this.


Well, it seems our sons are back in line with each other again b/c my son's didgit span test was high average on his most recent WISC IV (I posted my original post on this thread before DS was last evaluated). I am in shock by his "above average" digit span and his "superior" workling memory ... I still sometimes wonder if they confused him with someone else LOL
Posted by: Mike Morgenstein

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 10/17/13 11:01 AM

Hi, im relatively new to this. I am wondering how do you interpret digit-span results on the WAIS. For example, say someone got an 8 - is there any way i can correlate that to the capacity of numbers they recalled correctly? Does any (adult) have any empirical evidence they can share with me?
Posted by: blackcat

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 10/17/13 02:53 PM

Originally Posted By: Mike Morgenstein
Hi, im relatively new to this. I am wondering how do you interpret digit-span results on the WAIS. For example, say someone got an 8 - is there any way i can correlate that to the capacity of numbers they recalled correctly? Does any (adult) have any empirical evidence they can share with me?


From the very brief reading I've done on digit span, the average adult has a forward digit span of about 7 (give or take 1 or 2). So that's like remembering a phone number. I don't know what a score test of "8" would be, other than it's probably in the low average range. So maybe they remembered 5 or 6 digits. Just guessing.
Posted by: Irena

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 10/17/13 03:02 PM

My son got a "7" on digit span the first time he took the WISC IV at 6 1/2 years. I remember that he seemed to do okay on numbers forward but really poorly on numbers backward. But I do not know how many he got right. The score is 'scaled' so basically you get like two points for each right answer, it's totaled (I think that is the "raw score"), and, then, the tester looks the raw score up on a chart by age for the scaled score.... so it's sort of hard to figure out.

Take heart my kid's digit span score and letter number sequencing score improved significantly over a year and half...
Posted by: Mike Morgenstein

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 10/18/13 05:00 PM

Ahh ok. Thanks guys. This is interesting because i am pondering as to what would give you (adult per say) a 99% percentile digit span score. Something along the lines as to how many correct. Quite possibly someone here has an empirical experience of getting a really high score and X # of digits recalled
Posted by: Expat Mama

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 04/12/14 03:03 PM

Remember this very recent thread on digit span (some useful likes within it)...

http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/B...html#Post183527
Posted by: Frank22

Re: interpret low digit span score on WISC IV - 08/05/14 09:14 PM

Originally Posted By: jimmyy
Hi all, just discovered this forum a few days ago. May I ask a question on how to interpret low digit span score from my son's WISC IV test?

My son is 9 yr old. He did WISC IV test this past weekend and got the following score:
VCI: 146
Similarities: 18
Vocabulary: 18
Comprehension:17
PRI: 143
Block Design: 17
Picture Concepts: 17
Matrix Reasoning: 17
WMI: 129
Arithmetic: 17
Digit Span: 9
Letter-Number Seq: 13
PSI: 128
Coding: 15
Symbol Search: 15

FSIQ: 148

It seems Digit Span score is real low. How to interpret this? What is the symptom/consequence of this? Anything needs
to be concerned? The testing school psychologist said nothing
to be worried. But still I am wondering if the experienced parents may have seen this kind of "pattern"? Thanks very much.


There is indeed nothing to worry about; a test's "g-loading" is its correlation with full-scale IQ (the extent to which the test taps into the general intelligence factor). Forward digit-span only has a g-loading of about 0.30, meaning that only 9% of the variance in scores on forward digit-span are attributable to differences in g. There is no reason to assume that because a child has a high IQ, such as your son, that he or she would perform in the superior range on forward digit-span.

Backward digit-span is a much more g-loaded task, with a correlation with full-scale IQ of about 0.40 (i.e., 16% of the variance in performance on backward digit-span is attributable to full-scale IQ). However, a person's performance on this task is hindered by his or her forward digit-span; in other words, a child cannot recall a certain number of digits backwards if he or she cannot first recall the digits forward. (There are of course exceptions to this rule, and they reveal valuable clinical information on the momentary psychological and physiological state of the examinee).

When one combines the forward digit-span and backward digit-span tasks, one yields the digit span task utilized on the WISC-IV and WAIS-III, which has a g-loading of about 0.57 (about 32% of the variance on this task is explained by differences in g). This is still a fairly poor g-loading. In a sample of 148 gifted children, the average group performance on digit span was 13.5, with a maximum of 21 and a minimum of 6. In comparison, the group's average performance on vocabulary was 16.1, with a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 28. (Vocabulary has a g-loading of 0.83).

In conclusion, the results are not at all inconsistent; a very high IQ in no way mandates very superior or even superior performance on the digit-span task because it is a poorly g-loaded test.