IQ scores fail to predict academic performance in children with autis

A study by researchers at the University of Washington shows that many children with autistic spectrum disorders have greater academic abilities than previously thought. IQ scores in the general population are a fairly good predictor of academic performance, but research has found that there is a discrepancy between the IQ scores and the test results for mathematics, reading and spelling of those high-functioning children with autism. Academic achievement is therefore a potential but previously unrecognized source of pride and self-worth for autistic children.

Improved diagnosis and early behavioural intervention have led to more children being classified as high-functioning, and with improved social skills, more autistic children are coming into regular classrooms, although they still have social and communication challenges. In the study led by Annette Estes, research assistant professor at the University of Washington’s Autistic Center, 22 of the 30 participants were in regular education classrooms. Estes found that 27 out of 30 children had discrepancies between their IQ score and scores on at least one academic test – some higher, some lower. 18 of the 30 scored higher than predicted, especially in spelling and word reading, and 18 of the 30 also scored lower than their IQs predicted, indicating a possible learning disability.

The study also found that children with higher social skills at six years old had better word reading skills at nine years old. The next step for researchers, who have been studying these particular children since aged three or four, is to look at these students’ performance in the classroom with respect to grades and other measures of success.

Source: SpringerLink

First Published in 2010


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