Educational achievement in non-verbal children: Are they learning disabled?

Wayne Fisher, Larry Burd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


From a data-base of all nonspeaking children in North Dakota we analyzed the data on those children functioning above the retarded range to determine the prevalence of children meeting the main inclusion criteria for learning disabilities (LD), a severe discrepancy between IQ and achievement. The mean IQ for this group of 38 nonspeaking, nonretarded children of 104.0 was significantly higher than IQ equivalent scores in the academic subjects of reading (66.4), math (70.4), written language (65.2), and spelling (71.2). Using a stringent criterion for an IQ-achievement discrepancy of 2 standard deviations, 27 of 38 (71%) met this criterion in at least one subject. Academic subjects dependent upon higher linguistic functioning, written language and reading, were more affected than spelling and math. While the vast majority (73%) of these 38 children were deaf, the prevalence of IQ-achievement discrepancies was also found in 57% of the nonspeaking children without hearing impairments. These data suggest the common practice of excluding a diagnosis of a learning disability in a deaf child on the basis of the child's hearing impairment may not be appropriate. Further research is needed on the role of speech in academic achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-432
Number of pages5
JournalBrain and Development
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1991


  • Learning disabilities
  • deafness
  • etiology
  • hearing impairment
  • nonspeaking
  • nonverbal
  • speech and language disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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