Appeal denied by Commissioner on January 4, 2006
Keyword: medication side effect, attention span, safety issues, intellectual function
Hearing Officer: Deirdre Rosenberg
Counsel present for Appellant: Elaine Cockroft
Counsel present for DMR: John Mitchell
Appellant present: Yes
Hearing Decision on November 29, 2005
The appellant, JP, had been diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, NOS, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, inattentive type, and dysthymic disorder. He was currently receiving educational services pursuant to Chapter 766 of the Mass. Students with Disabilities Act. The appellant had applied for DMR support in 2005, which was denied.
In 2000, when he was 14, JP received verbal IQ score of 91, performance score of 68, and full scale score of 77. These scores were much lower than those from tests in 1995, when he was ten years old, where the full scale score of 105. According to his examiner, the change in the score might be attributed to his medications. When he was 17, he had achieved the full scale IQ of 84. At this time, his psychologist reported that the score underrepresented his cognitive abilities; in his opinion, JP only put forth limited effort because the test exceeded his attention span and area of interest. The examiner also reported that JP's academic skills and his ability to apply them were within the average range. In addition, JP's writing sample contained in the DMR application showed that he had substantial cognitive abilities compared to mentally retarded people.
Regarding his adaptive skills, a few records and JP's mother's testimony suggested that JP was not able to judge safety issues. On several occasions, he put himself at risk in traffic, accidentally injured himself, and failed to seek out proper first-aid assistance. His psychologist wrote that this was because of his deficient visual-spatial/kinesthetic awareness.
The hearing officer found that the appellant had failed to meet the DMR eligibility criteria. The appellant did not have significantly sub-average intellectual function, as evidenced by all of his IQ scores, which were above the 70-75 range, the permissible range under DMR standards to conclude that mental retardation exists. Other tests since 1995 also suggested that his performance was not consistent with mental retardation. No contrary evidence had been presented by the appellant or his witness. In addition, the appellant did not show that he had significantly sub-average adaptive functioning.