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Students with (suspicion of) IG+ASD

A study aimed at understanding the phenomenon Intellectual Giftedness in co-occurence with Autism Spectrum Disorder in relation to (needs-based) assessment
PhD ceremony:dr. A.E.J. Burger-Veltmeijer, PhD
When:March 17, 2016
Supervisor:prof. dr. A.E.M.G. (Alexander) Minnaert
Co-supervisor:dr. E.J. van den Bosch
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Students with (suspicion of) IG+ASD

The phenomenon ‘Intellectual Giftedness in co-occurrence with Autism Spectrum Disorder’ (IG+ASD) was explored in relation to psycho-educational assessment praxis.  A systematic literature review revealed the absence of well-grounded theories of IG+ASD, and some converging tendencies concerning personal characteristics of IG+ASD. Meanwhile, diagnosticians in education and mental health organisations faced the problem of misdiagnoses and missed diagnoses. Therefore, the S&W Heuristic was developed: A ‘rule of thumb’ which deals with the discrepancy between the lack of a theoretically coherent view on assessments and the concomitant problem of biased diagnoses in psycho-educational practices. The S&W Heuristic systematically connects assessment data and intervention indications. It does not primarily aim at categorical diagnoses, such as the labels IG, ASD or IG+ASD. Instead it aims at the question ‘which interventions fit this student with (suspicion of) IG+ASD’, by means of revealing the individual student’s Special Psycho-Educational Needs (SPENs). Subsequently, two empirical studies focused on how assessment processes were performed in various psycho-educational practices in the Netherlands: Whether they were consistent with the theoretical principles of the S&W Heuristic, and whether there seemed to be any necessity of optimisation of assessment trajectories in psycho-educational practice. A total of 36 assessment dossiers of students (full-scale IQ ≥ 130) were analysed.

The results indicate that bias as well as unsystematicity were present in different stages of a substantial part of these assessments. It was concluded that the S&W Heuristic seems to pave the way for systematicity and less bias in assessment processes of students with (suspicion of) IG+ASD.