Assessment of Cognitive Ability of Students with Severe and Low-Incidence Disabilities - Part 2

By Crepeau-Hobson, Franci; Vujeva, Hana | National Association of School Psychologists. Communique, November 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Assessment of Cognitive Ability of Students with Severe and Low-Incidence Disabilities - Part 2


Crepeau-Hobson, Franci, Vujeva, Hana, National Association of School Psychologists. Communique


The assessment of cognitive ability in students with the most severe disabilities presents a challenge to the clinicians who are charged with this task. This article is the second of a two-part series that summarizes what is currently known about effective assessment of the cognitive ability of students with significant impairments in order to improve service delivery to them. Part 1 presented background information and addressed assessment of cognitive ability in individuals with visual andhearing impairments. Part 2 summarizes the professional literature examining a variety of tests of cognitive ability that can be used with students with language impairments, motor impairments, and significant intellectual disabilities.

LANGUAGE IMPAIRMENTS

Language impairments can involve difficulty with grammar (syntax), vocabulary (semantics), the rules and system for speech sound production (phonology), units of word meaning (morphology), and the use of language, particularly in social contexts (pragmatics). Expressive language delays may exist without receptive language delay, but they can also co-occur in mixed expressive/receptive language disorders (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 1993).

As a consequence of the heavy verbal loading of most standardized cognitive assessments, children with severe language impairments are unable to be adequately assessed utilizing traditional cognitive assessment techniques. Indeed, research utilizing factor analyses has demonstrated that nearly 50% of the variance in children's performance on cognitive tests is accounted for by language abilities (Losch & Dammann, 2004), leaving little roomfor accurately assessing the cognitive ability of children with significant language impairments utilizing standard cognitive batteries. This is of particular concern for children with autism, especially those who are low functioning, as significant language deficits are inherent to the disorder. Research indicates that scores obtained from traditional measures of intelligence have underestimated the intellectual ability of children with autism spectrum disorders (see Edelson, 2006 for a review), perhaps because language deficits may be independent of cognitive ability (Dodd & Thompson, 2001; Lord & Paul, 1997). Thus, the use of measures of intelligence that take into account the interference of autism, particularly the significant language impairments, is of critical importance in identifying core cognitive impairments and for educational and treatment planning for this population.

For children with a lack of intelligible expressive communication because of profound articulation difficulties, the Leiter International Performance Scale-Revised (Leiter-R; Roid & Miller, 1997) or the Comprehensive Test of Nonverbal IntelligenceSecond Edition (CTONI-2; Hammill, Pearson, & Wiederholt, 2009) may be used (Quinn, 2010; Sattler, 2008). The Wechsler Nonverbal Scale of Ability (WNS; Wechsler & Naglieri, 2006) may also be considered (Sattler, 2008), although this assessment has less research supporting its use in populations with disabilities and may, in fact, not be a valid measure for children with any disability.

For both receptive and/or expressive language difficulties, the Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test (UNIT; Bracken 8c McCallum, 1998) is an optimal choice, (Farrell 8c Phelps, 2000; Sattler, 2008). However, it is important to note that the UNIT has dated and consequently questionable norms. While matrices-based tests such as Raven's Progressive Matrices (Raven, Raven, 8c Court, 1998) and the Test of Nonverbal Intelligence (TONI-4; Brown, Sherbenou, 8c Johnsen, 2010) are often used with this population, these and other figural-reasoning tests should not be used in place of comprehensive measures of cognitive ability because they measure intelligence based on figure reasoning only. They should only be used as a screening measure of nonverbal ability (Sattler 8c Hoge, 2006).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Assessment of Cognitive Ability of Students with Severe and Low-Incidence Disabilities - Part 2
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?