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DDS Eligibility Decision by H.O. Adamo 2010-16

Date: 
01/01/2010
Author: 
Jeanne Adamo

Outcome: Eligible

Keyword: blind; Autism Spectrum Disorder

Hearing Officer: Jeanne Adamo

Counsel present for Appellant: Yes; Appellant’s parents also present

Counsel present for DDS: Yes, Barbara Green Whitbeck, Esq.

Appellant present: Yes

Hearing Officer Decision: 2010

Commissioner letter: 2010

 

IQ

Year

Test

Age

Score

Diagnosis regarding MR in report (or info on disability affecting result of testing)

Verb.

Perf.

Full

2000

WISC-III

8

 

 

 

Test showed wide scatter on subtests from significantly below average in answering “why” questions, to above average on one sub-test of auditory memory.  Overall cognitive development skill level determined to be three years behind his peers. 

2000

WPPSI-R Verbal Scale

8

 

 

 

 

2000

McCarthy Verbal Scales

8

 

 

 

 

2000

Reynell-Zinkin

8

 

 

 

 

2000

Oregon Project Skill Inventory

8

 

 

 

 

2000

Blind Aptitude

8

 

 

 

 

2007

WISC-IV

15

 

 

 

Extreme variability in test scores prevented calculation of Full IQ

2007

RAIS

15

 

 

 

Appellant demonstrated a substantial variability in cognitive skills; most aggregate IQ index and factor scores are not reliable or useful indicators of potential ability and should not be used for educational planning services.

2007

TLC

15

 

 

 

 

2007

CELF-4

15

 

 

 

 

2007

CMS

15

 

 

 

 

2007

CVLT-C

15

 

 

 

 

2007

D-KEFS

15

 

 

 

 

2007

CTB

15

 

 

 

Highly significant differences (from 1st to 99th percentile) made it impossible to calculate a valid Verbal or Performance Scale

2009

WAIS-IV

17

 

 

 

Significant scatter of subtest scores

2009

SIT-R3

18

 

 

 

Total Standard Score = 59, which is equivalent to a Wechsler IQ of 62.

 

FUNCTIONAL ABILITY

Year

TESTS

Age

Score

Diagnosis regarding MR in report, if any (or info on disability affecting result of testing)

 

WJIII

11

 

 

2007

Vineland-II

15

 

 

2009

Vineland-II

17

 

 

2010

Vineland-II

18

 

 

2010

Vineland-II

18

 

 

 

Appellant is totally blind with multiple significant deficits, including congenital brain syndrome, a seizure disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder (Autism Spectrum Disorder and Mental Retardation were found to not be mutually exclusive), who also exhibits savant abilities in music and rote memory.  Due to his blindness and cognitive testing variability a valid Full Scale IQ score could not be calculated (the performance section of the Wechsler Scales cannot be used with people who are blind).  However, Appellant argued that the inability to obtain a reliable full Scale IQ should not disqualify him from receiving DDS services; the Department argued that the Appellant did not meet the qualifications for Mental Retardation.  The Department’s psychologist testified that the primary factors in her determination that the Appellant was ineligible were his cognitive test scores, which did not meet the Department’s regulations.  Consequently, since the cognitive component was not met, adaptive functioning was not part of her analysis. 

 

The hearing officer reasoned that the Appellant did meet the Department’s requirements for eligibility based partly on the fact that the Appellant’s savant abilities in rote memory tend to skew the IQ tests because he is able to parrot back information, but is not able to understand or utilize the information he memorizes.  This does not eliminate a diagnosis of Mental Retardation.  The hearing office found that the Appellant’s SIT-R3 score of 59, which is equivalent to a Wechsler IQ of 62 demonstrates that the Appellant, more likely than not, possesses a level of cognitive function two standard deviations below the mean, which is required to meet the Department’s definition of “significantly sub-average intellectual functioning.” 

 

The hearing office then examined whether Appellant’s level of adaptive functioning met the Department’s definition of significant limitation in adaptive functioning resulting from his significantly sub-average intellectual functioning (and not due to blindness).  Appellant’s Vineland II tests placing him almost three standard deviations below the mean reflected a severe impairment.  One standard deviation below the mean may be attributed to blindness; however, the Appellants results are far below what would be expected of the typical blind person who is not mentally retarded.  Therefore, Appellant was found to be a person with significant limitation in adaptive functioning.  Consequently, the Department’s finding of ineligibility was overturned. 

 

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