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Forget IQ scores, read this instead

advocacy autism parenting education Jun 29, 2023
nonverbal autism student

Have you ever been discouraged by your student's low IQ score? Many parents I speak with during my free Nonverbal Autism Homeschool Zoom consultations say their school district pushed an intellectual disability diagnosis for their student due to low test scores.

That usually doesn't sit right with mom and dad, because they know their student is bright. Instead, they suspect, something must be wrong with the way the test is designed or delivered.

That hunch is correct.

One academic study, performed in 2015, found that nonverbal students placed in a special school for highly impaired children performed better on intelligence tests that weren't language based; in one of those tests, they even outperformed their neurotypical control group peers.

The study concluded that "minimally verbal or nonverbal school-aged autistic children may be at risk of being underestimated: they may be wrongly regarded as having little cognitive potential."

A friend sent me a link to a blog post entitled, "Why you should not focus on IQ scores and look at this instead." It explains that people are intelligent in different ways, as illustrated by the multiple intelligences graphic above.

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, the test most often used in U.S. and Canadian schools to measure IQ, is language based. If your student has a language and/or communication disability, they'll score poorly on the test due to their disability, providing an inaccurate measure of their intelligence.

If you're hyperlexic like me, you may have scored very high on this test. I remember realizing in elementary school that the answers were subtly revealed in the question, much like Jeopardy! answers include a question clue. 

Despite my high IQ score, as I look at the intelligence types in the chart above, I have my own pie slices - mathematical/logic smart, interpersonal/people smart, intrapersonal/self smart, and kinesthetic/body smart - in which my scores would be relatively low. 

So it is with everyone. We all have unique combinations of intelligence types. Knowing this, it's important to observe your student to see where their strengths lie, and use those strengths to improve learning.

For example, students who struggle in mathematics but excel in music should be introduced to fractions using time signature.

Kinesthetic learners learn fractions and decimals better through sports. Kinesthetic learners also learn counting more easily when sending objects down a slide or into a tub of water (as we do in Nonverbal Autism Homeschool).

Children who are visual can show mastery using puzzles, sorting activities and collage work, rather than language, to show academic mastery. (More Nonverbal Autism Homeschool  methods!)

Many of our students are naturalists. Homeschool doesn't have to reproduce a classroom inside your home. Instead, take lessons outdoors. 

There are so many examples of how education can be modified to meet the needs of unique learners. Unfortunately, public schools are under pressure to provide a standardized education to ensure equality and financial efficiency. This standardized model leaves little to no room for modification.

Mr. Sims, our resident special education teacher, has taught for 33 years in a public classroom, worked as a homeschool supervisor with charter schools, and together with his wife, homeschooled their own children. He has a favorite saying: "An average parent, who follows a plan, can achieve so much more than I can in a classroom."

Click here to learn more about Nonverbal Autism Homeschool and how you can teach your nonspeaking or minimally speaking student respectfully, effectively and safely at home.

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