Traditional IQ Tests Underestimate Intelligence of Autistic Individuals

According to a recent study, traditional IQ tests may undervalue the competence of individuals on the autism spectrum.

According to a recent study, traditional IQ tests may undervalue the competence of individuals on the autism spectrum, most especially those suffering from Asperger’s syndrome.

Autistic individuals have generally received skewed assessments concerning intellectual profiles and impairment, but the findings of this most recent study indicate that tests catering specifically to those on the autism spectrum may be required in order to obtain more accurate results.

The researchers studied the IQ scores of Asperger’s individuals and non-Asperger’s individuals. They found that the scores of non-Asperger’s individuals remained relatively consistent across different tests, but individuals with Asperger’s had much higher scores when evaluated by a test known as Raven’s Progressive Matrices, as opposed to other testing standards, such as the Wechsler scales.

Raven’s Progressive Matrices consists of a series of tests which assess the individual’s ability to reason, resolve problems, and maneuver cognitively through high-level abstraction.

The researchers noted that the performance of the Asperger participants on Raven’s Matrices was connected to their strongest peaks of performance on the Wechsler.

In a previous study performed by the same group of researchers, similar results were found for autistic individuals; unlike Asperger individuals, whose peaks of ability are verbal, autistic individuals have peaks of ability that are perceptual.

This correlation between the findings of the two studies indicates that individuals on the autism spectrum share a common information processing mechanism for different aspects of information, whether it is verbal or perceptual.

Co-author Michelle Dawson reported that “while we know autistics process information atypically, very little thought has gone into how to fairly assess their abilities. In fact, there is so little understanding of what autistics do well that their strong abilities are often regarded as dysfunctional.”

Dawson continued to say that measurable strengths in autistic spectrum individuals are not “isolated islets of abilities,” but are indications of the intellectual abilities of those with autism.

“We consider the effort to understand and encourage autistic strengths to be of paramount importance,” Dawson reported.

The article, entitled “The Level and Nature of Autistic Intelligence II: What about Asperger Syndrome?” was published in the online journal PLoS ONE.