Hess, Robyn S.

Committee Member

Anderson, Jacqueline

Committee Member

Peterson, Eric

Committee Member

Welsh, Marilyn


College of Education and Behavioral Sciences; Department of School Psychology, School Psychology


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley, (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



137 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


Identifying students who are gifted with dyslexia (GWD) has presented a host of challenges to practitioners in school and clinic settings because these individuals possess both qualities of giftedness and learning difficulties, yet do not ‘fit’ in either category. The term “stealth dyslexia” was coined to indicate the presence of high abilities that may mask dyslexia traits, complicate diagnostic accuracy, and allow individuals to compensate for their weaknesses. The masking of reading difficulties can cause dyslexia to remain undetected in gifted children for a prolonged period of time which may leave them prone to academic disengagement. The present study provided an empirical examination of the patterns of academic strengths and weaknesses students with GWD. Using data from 98 clients from a private clinic, the scores of three different identified groups were compared: GWD, Gifted-only, and Dyslexiaonly. A profile analysis, followed by post-hoc one-way ANOVAs, compared the groups across cognitive (WISC-V) and achievement (WIAT-III) measures. Results indicated that the cognitive scores of the groups varied from each other in the predicted patterns (i.e., higher verbal, abstract, and visual spatial reasoning) for Gifted-only and GWD, and lower cognitive efficiency (i.e., working memory and processing speed) for GWD and Dyslexia-only groups. Across achievement subtest variables, GWD scores were significantly above the Dyslexia-only students on all measures with the exception of Pseudoword Decoding, and below the Gifted-only students on all measures with the exception of Reading Comprehension and Listening Comprehension. Across achievement composite scores, the GWD scores were in between the Dyslexia-only and Gifted-only groups Total Reading and Reading Comprehension & Fluency, no different from Dyslexia-only on Basic Reading, and no different from Gifted-only on Oral Language. The GWD group displayed greater variability, as measured by the difference between highest and lowest subtest scores, in reading performance than the comparison groups. Finally, overall cognitive scores were significantly lower than the index score that omits working memory and processing speed among participants in the GWD group. The implications from this study regarding the nature, magnitude, and range of cognitive and achievement strengths and weaknesses of GWD students will help educators and psychologists accurately recognize and advocate for these students.

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