Why intelligence scores do not predict success for autistic adults

The idea that a high level of intelligence helps some autistic people in their daily lives crops up often in Hollywood depictions and casual conversation. The concept even has some scientific support. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, several researchers suggested that a high intelligence quotient (IQ) helps autistic people better engage in their communities, social interactions and education.

In part because of this early work, IQ remains one of the most common ways to evaluate abilities among autistic people.

Yet we now know that it is not really possible to match IQ to a designated level of function. Relying on IQ and using labels such as ‘high functioning’ and ‘low functioning’ minimizes the daily difficulties encountered by all autistic individuals. It also can obscure considerable unmet needs. Or, as the autistic writer and advocate Laura Tisoncik eloquently put it: “The difference between high functioning and low functioning is that high functioning means your deficits are ignored, and low functioning means your assets are ignored.”

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28th November 2017