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Q: Are there any non-language assessments that could be given to our son?
 

We adopted a 7 year old boy from Russia. He successfully takes Ritelin for attention and hyperactivity and is doing "well" in a small private school where there are 7 children (grades 3-5 in his class). His teacher is not trained in special education, but has taken workshops on ADD/ADHD and on learning styles. However, we are wondering about his learning style. He easily memorizes how to spell words, but seems to forget how to spell them several weeks later. The teacher also feels he ought to remember multiplication tables and points of grammar better.
When you call his name, our son does not immediately respond. This is the same when you ask him a question or make a comment directly to him. There is a delay in responding. Yet he has clearly heard what you have said when asked about it.
Are there any non-language assessments that could be given to our son? He has probably forgotten his Russian or is so "shy" that he will not talk/listen to a native speaking it. He is our only child and has not been around any Russians for 2 years. Even when he first came to the US and we interacted with a Russian family that spoke Russian and English, he would speak in English. What has been your experience with other children, adopted 4 years ago at around age 6/7? How do you interact with them if they refuse to interact with someone speaking Russian? (He never learned to read in Russian). Also he recently has developed tics (Tourettes Syndrome) and is taking clonidine for this as well as lesser amounts of Ritelin (which he still needs for attention in the morning in school). He also can be quick to anger and at home can have a real rage (especially if on no medicine).

A: There are plenty of non-language psychological instruments, among them UNIT, TONI-2, Leiter Scale (just recently re-standardized), CTONI. The best one on the market is UNIT (Universal Non-Verbal Intelligence Test). It surpasses any other non-verbal test in practically all aspects, including psychometric properties, diversity of the measured cognitive abilities, and relevancy to school performance. I use all the existing non-verbal tests with IA children, and my personal professional preference is for UNIT as the most appropriate instrument for IA children. The big, really big problem with all non-verbal tests (including my favorite UNIT, although to a lesser degree) is that they have a relatively weak predictive validity (from .4 to .7) for academic functioning, which is mostly language-based. Would you buy a thermometer that shows a correct temperature in only 40 to 70 percent of all measurements?

But I am not sure why you ask for a non-verbal assessment. Have you ever heard about Sensory Integration Therapy? I do not want to endorse it, but I heard from many patients and professionals that it may work wonders with children who have the very same range of symptoms that your son has. You may find a lot of information about this therapy on the Internet. Again, it is not an endorsement of SI, just a suggestion to look at it.

 

 

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Last update on December 2, 2014

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