DDS Eligibility Decision by H.O. Hudgins, 2010-23
Keyword: thought disorder, depression
Hearing Officer: Hudgins
Counsel present for Appellant: Maria Fourner
Counsel present for DDS: Barbara Green Whitbeck
Appellant present: no
Hearing Officer decision: 2010
Commissioner letter: 2010
Diagnosis regarding MR in report (or info on disability affecting result of testing)
Axis II diagnosis of borderline intellectual functioning – rule out mild mental retardation. Appellant may have greater cognitive potential than indicated because of likely presence of co-morbid thought disorders and severe cognitive processing deficits.
Axis II diagnosis of mild to moderate mental retardation. Appellant heard voices during testing. Significant cognitive limitations as well as psychiatric programs limit Appellant’s ability to function independently.
Axis II diagnosis of mild mental retardation. Findings also point to major psychiatric disorder. Appellant suffers from depression, PTSD and schizoaffective disorder; these symptoms are mediated by medications.
Diagnosis regarding MR in report, if any (or info on disability affecting result of testing)
Communication – 61 (low), daily living skills – 54 (low), socialization – 64 (low)
Issue is whether Appellant is mentally retarded as defined in 115 CMR 2.01 (a person with significantly sub-average intellectual functioning existing concurrently and related to significant limitations in adaptive functioning).
DCF social worker testified on behalf of Appellant that he suffers from PSTD, mild mental retardation, abuse and neglect. Appellant’s guardian had been granted on the basis of mental illness, not mental retardation, but social worker testified that there had been a finding that Appellant’s mental illness was a side effect of retardation. Another witness for Appellant testified that Appellant has a major depressive disorder, mild mental retardation and PTSD.
Expert witness for DDS testified that the 2003 test result was likely negatively impacted by Appellant’s psychiatric illness. She testified that the 2008 score of 66 was questionable because of the discrepancy between the Verbal score and Performance score. Moreover, she testified that she believes that Appellant’s psychosis also impacted this score. Expert witness testified that on the 2009 test, Appellant scored a 76 on the General Ability Index. Appellant’s 2008 IEP statement about his education and work plans also evidence some higher cognitive abilities. Witness testified that she believes that the diagnosis of borderline cognitive functioning as opposed to mental retardation is more consistent with Appellant’s condition. She testified that someone with a Perceptual Organization Index of 76 which the Appellant obtained on the WISC-III administered in 2003 does not have significant cognitive limitations.
Hearing Officer notes that because of the Appellant’s issues, it is difficult to ascertain his innate cognitive ability. Appellant’s difficulties performing on the IQ test are likely the result of his thought disorder and depression. Because the validity of the test scores is questionable, Appellant failed to meet his burden of showing that he meets the DDS definition of significantly sub-average intellectual functioning.