History of Autism
What is Autism?
Definitions of autism
What are the symptoms?
How do you know my child is
What causes autism?
Is there a cure for autism?
Treatment for autism
Will my child regress?
my child's IQ?
How autistic is my child?
What can I as a parent do?
Frequently Asked Questions
Autism in the Movies
Books on Autism
my child's IQ?
I.Q. scores as measured on cognitive tests, are important
in assessing a child with autism. However, it is
important not to assign too much significance to a score
on a test. The problem for persons with autism is that
they may have very good cognitive skills, but are unable
to use them. In general, people with autism can be
divided into three groups, by age 5 or 6 years.
Approximately, 50% of people with autism are also
mentally retarded both in verbal and non-verbal skills;
another 25% have normal non-verbal intelligence but poor
language skills, and another 25% have normal language and
non-verbal skills. It is very difficult when a child is
young to determine which of these three groups he/she
will fall into.
What is important is not a person's I.Q. on a test but
his or her ability to function independently in society.
Assessment of social adaptive skills is much more
important that intellectual functioning. I often tell
parents it does not matter how smart a person is if they
cannot get across the street. It does not matter if a
person does calculus if they cannot make change.
goal is to help autistic persons be integrated into
society, then it becomes crucial to focus on the
development of social/adaptive rather than
between high-IQ autism and low-IQ autism
There are only a few studies that have systematically
compared high-IQ autistic individuals with low-IQ
autistic individuals. DeMyer, Barton, DeMyer, Norton,
Allen and Steele (1973) reported a follow-up study of
autism in which children were placed in subcategories of
"high autism" (defined as having a mixture of
non-communicative and communicative speech and some
intellectual or perceptual-motor activity that was near
chronological age in complexity), "middle
autism" (defined as having little communicative
speech beyond infrequent communicative words, but at
least one intellectual or perceptual-motor activity that
approximated age level), or "low autism"
(defined as for middle autism, except that the
intellectual and perceptual-motor performances were
globally retarded.) The mean full-scale IQ of the
high-autism group at initial evaluation was 61; the
middle-autism group, 44; and the low-autism group, 30. At
follow-up, the high-autism group showed an upward change
of IQ scores, especially on Verbal IQ, whereas the
middle-and low-autism groups tended to have an IQ
(especially Performance IQ) change in the downward
direction. The high-autism group had a greater reduction
of autistic symptoms than that of the middle and low
groups. More children from the high-autistic group (14%)
functioned educationally like normal children at
follow-up than children from the middle-autistic group
(10%) and the low-autistic group (0%).
Rutter (1976) found that significantly more of the
mentally retarded (defined as having a non-verbal IQ
below 70) autistic children had deviant social
development, as well as deviant social responses as
compared to the normally intelligent autistic children.
The retarded group displayed more severe retardation in
language development; more self-injurious behaviors and
stereotyped hand and finger movements; greater difficulty
with environmental changes; a higher rate of seizure
disorders; and more individuals with a "poor"
outcome. Bartak and Rutter (1976) suggested that
"there may be differences in the origin of autism
according to the presence or absence of mental
Ritvo, Schroth, Tonick, Guthrie, and Wake (1981) studied
the behavioral characteristics of high- and low-IQ (i.e.,
with Performance Iqs above and below 70, respectively)
autistic children aged 30 to 60 months. In this study,
the high-IQ autistic group was not compared directly with
the low-IQ autistic group; the high-IQ was compared with
the normal children. and the low-IQ autistic group was
compared with the mentally retarded children.
Nonetheless, the authors commented that "the present
results also confirm the clinical observations of Bartak
and Rutter, who reported that high-IQ and low-IQ autistic
children tended to exhibit different behaviors."
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