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Predicting Autism IQ from the Age of Two

IQ Test

If you had the opportunity to figure out what type of life your autistic child may lead 17+ years down the road when you have them diagnosed and tested for their intelligence quotient (IQ) at the age of two, would you be the least bit curious? I know I personally would want the reassurance that my child will grow to be not only healthy and happy, but able to adequately function in the world around her. I would want to understand where exactly the differences are to be found, in order to teach my baby how to respond to the world appropriately. An autistic child is merely different, not anything less than a typically developing little boy or girl. A little bit a reassurance in the form of the IQ could go a long way.

Parents of autistic children have too much on their plate as is. Whereas a typical child may be a fireball let loose in the world, the world of an autistic parent can feel like it never is totally free of the pyre. A neurological genetic disorder accentuated by environmental factors, autism can turn the world upside down for many a family. Where mothers walking out on their children are rare, autism forums are full of desperate women on the brink of divorce or who have to deal with their special needs children on their own, with little or no assistance otherwise.

Issues could include:

After all that, during the days when you just want to shut down or cry yourself to sleep, it is good to know that your child is smart. You might find it super exciting to learn that he or she is smartest in the class! After all, who would not want to be mother to a savant genius?

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A 17 year longitudinal study published right before the New Year in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry might just be your ticket to boosting your mood when things seem down. Tests administered when the children are 2 or 3 years old have been found to nearly accurately predict one's IQ come the age of 19. If a child has higher than average intelligence, chances are that the correct therapy and parenting methods from a very early age could lead to the diminishing or fully overcoming of multiple autistic symptoms.

"In the brighter kids, we think it does make a difference if parents start doing [interventions] right away rather than just waiting to see what happens," says lead investigator Catherine Lord, director of the Institute for Brain Development at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

The criteria considered when comparing results include verbal IQ, non-verbal IQ, adaptive skills, severity of social deficits, and repetitive behaviors. Those with an IQ over 70 scored high on the first three criterion, while scoring low on the last two. Those with IQ below 70 had their scores reversed. Those with higher IQ saw their skills increase over the years, while their deficits most definitely became more balanced. Those with lower IQ did not see as much of a change, but there is hope that they can do better over time. They will not overcome their problems or build on their abilities as those with higher IQ, however.

Oddly enough, where some of the 2 year old children made great strides over the years and somehow outgrew their autism diagnosis (a concept that is a little hard for me to understand as a psychologist), most in their groups of high functioning autistic children did not. They may have made great strides across the board but few jumped off the charts and into the pot of the typically developing individuals. As was found in the study, the children with very positive outcomes had taken part in treatments that targeted their weaknesses and worked on their strengths.

All in all, IQ tests are quite reliable in mapping out the future of a child from the age of two, providing autism parents with ample amount of time to access the best and most comprehensive treatments and therapy sessions their children might benefit from most in order to be able to live lives with just a little less stress.