Differences in the intellectual profile of children with intellectual vs. learning disability.

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Cornoldi, C ; Giofré, D ; Orsini, A ; Pezzuti, L

The WISC-IV was used to compare the intellectual profile of two groups of children, one with specific learning disorders (SLDs), the other with intellectual disabilities (ID), with a view to identifying which of the four main factor indexes and two additional indexes can distinguish between the groups. We collected information on WISC-IV scores for 267 children (Mage=10.61 [SD=2.51], range 6-16 years, females=99) with a diagnosis of either SLD or ID. Children with SLD performed better than those with ID in all measures. Only the SLD children, not the ID children, revealed significant differences in the four main factor indexes, and their scores for the additional General Ability Index (GAI) were higher than for the Cognitive Proficiency Index (CPI). Children with a diagnosis of SLD whose Full-Scale Intelligence Quotient (FSIQ) was <85 showed a similar pattern. Our findings confirm the hypothesis that children with SLD generally obtain high GAI scores, but have specific deficiencies relating to working memory and processing speed, whereas children with ID have a general intellectual impairment. These findings have important diagnostic and clinical implications and should be considered when making diagnostic decisions in borderline cognitive cases.
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