IQ scores not a good measure of function in autism

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Verdandi
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16 Jun 2012, 7:56 am

I posted a thread with another article on this topic here: http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt194082.html

Here's the article: http://sfari.org/news-and-opinion/news/ ... -in-autism

This quoted bit is toward the beginning:

Quote:
The assumption underlying the use of high IQ as a synonym for high functioning is also suspect because social and communicative abilities may have a far greater impact on an individual's daily interactions.

"Crudely taking IQ as a metric to divide up individuals can be misleading, because high-functioning sounds like you are doing really well, when in fact you're not," says cognitive psychologist Tony Charman, professor of autism education at the University of London.

In an ongoing study of 100 children between 14 and 16 years of age in the U.K., he and his colleagues are trying to identify cognitive subtypes of individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Early analyses of their data show that there is no evidence as yet for a different cognitive phenotype in individuals with high IQs compared with those who have a low IQ1.


This quoted bit is later on in the article, a section labeled "Real skills." I picked it because it explicitly states that IQ is not a predictor for how well an autistic person will function in the real world.

Quote:
Regardless of the test, IQ may not be the best indicator of the ability of a person with autism to navigate the real world. "An individual's level of functioning can more impacted by co-morbid mental health problems than by IQ — and this is particularly true for adults," says Peter Szatmari, head of child psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at McMaster University in Ontario.

A person who scores 125 on an IQ test — and thus considered high-functioning — may in fact be considerably impaired in daily activities.

Levels of functioning can also change over time, Szatmari points out. In a multi-site Canadian study called Pathways, he and colleagues are looking at how children with autism progress from diagnosis through grade 1 and, ultimately, grade 6.

The team is seeing astonishing variability in both language skills and behavior in the 18 to 24 months following diagnosis, he says. "There's so much change that the IQ tests can't capture the diversity of kids."

Even in the very limited arena of academic achievement, IQ may be less relevant than is commonly assumed. For example, Estes' study, published 2 November in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, reports that IQ does not accurately predict academic performance in most high-functioning children with autism in regular classrooms2.

Some did better on spelling and reading tests than their IQ would predict and some did worse, even though IQ is tightly tied to academic achievement in healthy children. What's more, children in the study who had better social skills at age 6 showed higher levels of academic achievement at age 9, regardless of IQ.

A population study of more than 8,000 twin pairs in the U.K. published in February looked at the association between autism traits and intelligence in 145 children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder by age 7. Autism traits and intelligence were both stable over time, but there was only a modest association between the two, suggesting that autism traits are independent of intellectual functioning3.

There is nothing inherently wrong in studying individuals classified as high-functioning rather than a more diverse population of people with autism, Charman says. Still, he adds, "people need to be cautious and remember that it's not a cut that represents some true boundary in nature."


I expect there will be more and more research, articles, and discussions along these lines, for which I am personally grateful. When my attorney asked me if I was intelligent, and I said "I'm told I am," he said "It hasn't helped you much, has it?" Finding information that confirms that this is actually typical and not unusual helps me understand what is going on more clearly.

One of the things that also interests me in the quoted bits are statements to the effect of a lack of evidence supporting separate autistic cognitive phenotypes for those with a higher IQ vs. those with a lower IQ. Another is that functioning can vary, suggesting that autistic people not only have uneven skill profiles and developmental differences, that we have a lot of developmental differences from other autistic people. Apparently one person may seem to function better at a young age than a second person, but in two years, the second person may have developmentally bypassed them in one or more areas while they haven't developed much at all, or developed in other areas.

I also like the similar point at the end, "it's [the separation between HFA and LFA] is not a cut that represents some true boundary in nature."

I am not stating that there is no difference between autistic individuals (the differences can be pretty obvious and far-reaching), or that there aren't particular traits that are used to determine whether to label "HFA" or "LFA." I am more saying that someone who is HFA can have some things in common with someone who is LFA and vice versa.



TallyMan
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16 Jun 2012, 8:12 am

It certainly does not measure how well I function. Without quoting numbers, my IQ is very high but my EQ is very low. This makes for a huge disparity in the way I function. I am both a genius and a cabbage at the same time! :lol:


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Verdandi
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16 Jun 2012, 8:22 am

TallyMan wrote:
It certainly does not measure how well I function. Without quoting numbers, my IQ is very high but my EQ is very low. This makes for a huge disparity in the way I function. I am both a genius and a cabbage at the same time! :lol:


Tests I've taken have given me a fairly low EQ as well. I think there's also a global functioning scale (not global assessment of functioning) that autistic people tend to score low on despite IQ scores. My performance does not match what I've been labeled with.



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16 Jun 2012, 8:34 am

Verdandi wrote:
TallyMan wrote:
It certainly does not measure how well I function. Without quoting numbers, my IQ is very high but my EQ is very low. This makes for a huge disparity in the way I function. I am both a genius and a cabbage at the same time! :lol:


Tests I've taken have given me a fairly low EQ as well. I think there's also a global functioning scale (not global assessment of functioning) that autistic people tend to score low on despite IQ scores. My performance does not match what I've been labeled with.


My "performance" is all over the place. I guess it depends on what is actually being measured. I think many people on the autistic spectrum who are considered "high functioning" have a tendency to be highly intelligent with technical things but at a loss with interpersonal interactions. The latter (EQ) tends to be far more important for "success" in life with personal relationships and with interactions with colleagues, so in that sense IQ is effectively a worthless measure.


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Verdandi
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16 Jun 2012, 8:47 am

My performance is all over the place, but my capacity for independent living and activities of daily living are both far lower than is typical for most people.



TallyMan
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16 Jun 2012, 9:04 am

Yes, there are other issues too, other than those that can be measured by IQ or EQ. I have some problems with executive function and spend most of my life engrossed in things that just aren't important to my survival instead of spending time and energy on things that are considered by most people to be basic to independent living. Metaphorically speaking I'm the sort of person who could accidentally fall off a cliff due to observing an interesting flower at the edge of the precipice and spend the duration of the fall to the ground considering its unusual petal formation.

I also have issues with social phobia, which are probably a result of low EQ and lack of comprehension of how to interact with people appropriately in different situations, so I tend to avoid all social interaction.

I think those of us on the autistic spectrum have a mixed bag of problems which affect our functioning in society. The closer to "normal" we appear, the less people around us understand our unique problems and can dismiss us a lazy or low achievers.


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16 Jun 2012, 9:18 am

Where IQ scores EVER a good measure of functioning?


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Verdandi
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16 Jun 2012, 9:20 am

Ganondox wrote:
Where IQ scores EVER a good measure of functioning?


Some people think so. For NTs they seem to be predictive of academic success.



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16 Jun 2012, 10:21 am

That was a neat article.

It reminds me of how an ASD specialist once told me that as a young child (around age 3), I really should have been able to read the face of my parent and other "close" people to some extent and that when I was yelled at, I should have been able to identify that the yelling wasn't just very uncomfortable but an expression of a moment of anger and also that it was a reaction related to whatever I had done before considering my "very hf AS", as supposedly (I'm having my doubts about this as a general claim:), children of the same age that are labelled as having "lf" autism are able to sense and understand such "basic" interaction. Made no sense.


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16 Jun 2012, 1:21 pm

Lovely piece.

I don't have the high IQ issue (I have the IQ of a ferret), but what jumped out at me was the mention that autistic people have a wide scatter of developmental issues.

My problem was, as a kid, I was "abnormally well-behaved," which is one of the main reasons I never got DXed. I get tired of being told that one is required to have been an obnoxious brat as a child in order to be "autistic." The concept of "uneven development" can occasionally slant towards "positive" traits, but it doesn't mean that those traits aren't still disabling.


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16 Jun 2012, 3:08 pm

I don't think that IQ is a good measure of anything in people with autism.

Beyond IQ, I am very interested in different cognitive phenotypes in autistic people, and how they affect childhood development and adulthood functioning.

I also don't think that high-functioning necessarily means mild autism, or that severe autism necessarily means low-functioning, or that low-functioning necessarily means severe autism, or that mild autism necessarily means high-functioning.

We don't know anything about autistic development, and these IQ, functioning, and severity categories overgeneralize and confuse eberrything. What about the five-year-old child who is too uncommunicative and non-verbal to answer the questions on an IQ test, and has very little spontaneous activity and low self-help skills for her age, but can draw accurate pictures in perspective, remember most of what she sees and hears, and read words at a high level with no reading comprehension whatsoever? Is she low-functioning or high-functioning? Is she severely autistic or not? How intelligent is she? How will she develop in the future? When will she learn to speak? What will she be like as an adult? Will she evar have any social skills?



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16 Jun 2012, 6:31 pm

Here's why IQ tests aren't good for me.

I can only speak for me, as I only know my own experience.
I took one you can buy at Barnes and Noble that the president of Mensa recommends as a prerequisite to Mensa's testing.

I hated it. The "right" answers were often ambiguous, and I argued my way through some of the verbal questions. Vocabulary as well is not a factor of innate intelligence (had I read the word bucolic somewhere, I would have known the meaning and gotten myself another point in my IQ.)

Oh well. I got overstimulated during the test, stressed out, and wasn't able to function well, and I still scored 135. With the corrections on my vocabulary, about 140-145.

I took the Raven's Progressive Matrices and got only one wrong. It put me in the high 99th percentile of IQ.

But here's the thing. IQ doesn't measure the various aspects that comprise one's intelligence. It simply measures how well you can take a specific test. If you can study for it, you bet that it doesn't measure how smart you are.

Besides, one day I might take the test and get overstimulated and stim, get distracted, etc. That would give me a lower score. Also, because I'm autistic, my processing speed isn't fast. I have to take time to analyze, but if you give me that time, I'm usually 99% correct. Rushing me, or timing me, shuts down my brain. You call that a measure of intelligence?

I'm sorry, but as an intelligent person, that's just stupid. More scientific tests have shown that IQ can change drastically over a lifetime, is influenced by environment as much as genetics, and is far too inept of a tool to use to measure someone.

Try reading "The Genius in All of Us" by David Shenk. It's an incredible book about the science behind intelligence, testing, potential, genetics, etc. It's not a whacked out, "You can be Einstein Too!" crap book.



Last edited by EstherJ on 16 Jun 2012, 11:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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16 Jun 2012, 7:01 pm

IQ isn't even a good measure for how well someone does as school if they have an ASD, unlike most normal people.



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16 Jun 2012, 7:55 pm

Yes, in an absolute sense, there probably is less or much less correlation with success, than with the typical population.

Psychometric "IQ" is limited in 'what' it is testing. The mind is much more modular than these test items.

As mentioned, one could add executive functioning as a parameter and social or emotional intelligence as test items, for example.

Just stating the obvious: You could go on and on with these added metrics, but a higher "IQ" in an ASD would have to correlate with something 'better' vs a lower cognitive performance in the same individual.

You could easily say that a higher working memory capacity and an erudition in knowledge, could ( should) bridge or close the gaps, for example, in social cognition vs a lack in this area.



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16 Jun 2012, 9:05 pm

The problem with IQ tests is that they are usually administered by one person in a room that is purposely devoid of distractions and and unwanted sensory stimuli. What good is a 130 IQ when you're sitting in a class or work and the person next to you is tapping on their desk with a metal bracelet for an hour and your 130 IQ effectively becomes 70.