With the advance of technology, it’s a groundbreaking moment for humanity. We can now do things we never thought possible, like communicating with people from other countries in real-time or curing previously incurable diseases. But there’s one area where we’re still stuck in the dark ages: intelligence testing.
IQ tests have been around for over a century and are still the best way to measure intelligence. But there are still some serious shortcomings with traditional intelligence testing, especially when testing the IQ of individuals on the autism spectrum.
One of the biggest problems with IQ tests is that they often underestimate the intelligence of people on the autism spectrum. This is because many of the tasks on these tests rely heavily on social skills and interpretation of nonverbal cues, which can be difficult for people with autism.
According to a study published in the online journal PLoS ONE, people with Asperger’s syndrome – a high-functioning form of autism – scored much higher on the Ravens Progressive Matrices. Ravens Progressive Matrices is a widely used measure of reasoning, high-level abstraction, and problem-solving), when they were given the test in a format that accommodated their social and communication deficits.
This suggests that specialized testing formats are required to assess the intelligence of people on the autism spectrum accurately. Traditionally, IQ tests on the traditional Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) and the Stanford-Binet test have been used to measure intelligence. However, these tests are often associated with uneven intellectual profiles and impairment. In other words, there are great strengths in one area but weaknesses in another. An example would be a child who demonstrates excellent math skills but struggles with reading comprehension.
Aspergers Individuals have their unique way of processing information and often have a common mechanism for storing and retrieving information. So it only stands to reason that the questions asked on an IQ test and the answer format should be modified to assess their strengths and abilities better. Researchers suggest providing autistics with the information they’re good at processing, such as patterns, and presenting the questions in a way that doesn’t require social skills or interpretation of nonverbal cues.
While it’s still early days, this research provides hope that we may finally be able to accurately assess the intelligence of people on the autism spectrum and give them the support and accommodations they need to reach their full potential.
According to Michelle Dawson, co-author of the study and an expert on autism, “If we can find a way to accurately assess the intelligence of people on the autism spectrum, it could have a profound impact on their lives. We consider the effort to understand and encourage autistic strengths to be of paramount importance.”
Dawson further states that there is so little understanding of what autistics do well; there is much more focus on what they don’t do well.
This new research provides a glimmer of hope that we may finally be able to assess the intelligence of people on the autism spectrum more accurately and give them the support and accommodations they need to reach their full potential.