Date of Submission
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Robert A. DiTomasso, Ph.D., ABPP
James Brad Hale, Ph.D., Chairperson
Jennifer Hillman, Ph.D.
George McCloskey, Ph.D.
The emphasis on the ability-achievement discrepancy approach for SLD identification diminished the importance of robust examination into patterns of cognitive strengths and weaknesses as related to achievement deficits. This approach directed attention away from related psychosocial deficits previously reported in this population by concentrating on the quantitative differences between standard scores. The cognitive and academic deficits of children with SLD have been well studied, but little is known about the emotionaVbehavioral functioning of children with SLD, and even less about the interconnections between the neurocognitive and emotional/behavioral systems. Children with disparate types of neurocognitive assets and deficits may experience learning problems specific to academic domains, and subtypes of SLD could be related to differential patterns of psychosocial adjustment. In an attempt to further the investigation of these relationships, the current study explored SLD subtypes (N = 113) through hierarchical cluster analysis ofthe WISC-IV standard subtests with emotional/behavioral functioning assessed through BASC-2 teacher ratings. Six cognitive SLD subtypes emerged, differentiated across cognitive, academic, and psychosocial variables. Statistically significant group differences were found across these variables through multivariate repeated measures MANOV A and Bonferroni post hoc analyses. The Crystallized/Language and the Executive/Working Memory subtypes demonstrated severe cognitive and academic deficits and were prone to experience global emotional/behavioral dysfunction. Two subtypes demonstrated apparent right hemisphere-based learning difficulties and were differentiated by neurocognitive assets and deficits. Although achievement difficulties were noted in math areas for both subtypes, the Fluid Reasoning subtype had additional difficulty with Reading Comprehension and more emotional/behavioral concerns than the Visual/Spatial subtype. The Processing Speed and the High Functioning/Inattentive subtypes had less severe cognitive and academic deficits, but the High FunctioninglInattentive subtype had difficulties with attention and hyperactivity, and the Processing Speed subtype had attention difficulties and internalizing problems. This study demonstrated the fact that delineating both academic and behavioral patterns for different subtypes could help practitioners with more accurate identification practices, not only for entitlement purposes, but also for the development of individualized education programs that meet academic and psychosocial needs of children with SLD. Future research could benefit from investigation of Sill subtype patterns of functioning across cognitive, academic, and psychosocial factors.
Hain, Lisa A., "Exploration of Specific Learning Disability Subtypes Differentiated across Cognitive, Achievement, and Emotional/behavioral Variables" (2009). PCOM Psychology Dissertations. 58.