It’s crazy to have an autistic child take an IQ test because IQ testing generally relies on language and communication skills. So it’s more accurate to say that it is hard to assess their intelligence.
Many things make me angry during the treatment of children with autism; the most common is treating them as stupid, intellectually disabled, or mentally retarded. The most popular tool to assess cognitive development, such as the Wechsler, classifies most children with autism as intellectually disabled or mentally retarded.
They are often classified as mentally retarded with an IQ between 50 and 70, and even mildly cognitively impaired children are often classified as borderline mentally retarded with an IQ of 80. Parents who receive these test results feel disaster. ‘My child is stupid! and scream in despair.
Parents of children diagnosed with an intellectual disability should listen to me seriously: for children with autism, intelligence tests are a waste of time because the results are so noticeable. Don’t trust the results of an intelligence test on your child for one second. You might as well throw the test results in the trash. Any doctor who orders an IQ test for a child with autism doesn’t know what autism is. Clinical psychologists who administrate tests for children with autism also likely don’t understand the fundamentals of autism either.
Autism is a social disorder, with communication difficulties being a characteristic. Intelligence tests are based on communication and assess how well a person can perceive situations, recognize information, and translate it into action. Unfortunately, our kids don’t interact well. Their communication is incomplete. They can’t answer questions quickly enough, which leads to slow information processing and lower intelligence, and often, they get lost in thought and can’t respond to questions. Even children with extremely high intelligence often cannot react to intelligence tests. So autistic children, despite their high intelligence, are diagnosed as intellectually disabled and sometimes treated as stupid.
I’ve seen children with nonverbal autistic children read words once they started talking in therapy. I’ve seen a child assessed as intellectually disabled who couldn’t do simple addition, like 3+2, turn out to know functions once he could interact.
Parents of children with autism who make progress in my protocol consistently say. “I had no idea my child knew that much.” First, I want to say that your child is never stupid. Intelligence tests are crazy when autistic tendencies remain. If an IQ test says your child is ridiculous, don’t believe it, and feel free to laugh at the results. With the right interventions, your child will show you their intelligence, and you’ll find that most are above average.