Why You Should Not Focus On IQ Scores And Look At This Instead

Some day the truths about autism will not be disputable.
People who work and care about people with autism will replace many doctors and therapists who have been too stubborn to listen to anything but themselves.
I feel as more books come out and more of us with autism come forward, the old ways of treatments will have to be tossed out. Their uselessness and harmful effects will be undeniable as people see what autism is and what it isn’t. That’s my hope.


– Lexington Sherbin


There you have it. Nobody speaks with as much honesty as an autistic individual.


This quote so connects me back to my favorite topic- presuming intellect.


Here is a question I recently received about ‘intellect.’


Question- You keep talking about presuming intellect, but my child’s reports show that he is low functioning. His IQ test scores are really low. Those low scores bother me.


I’ll reply with another question.


What do IQ tests measure?


Here is a definition I found: An IQ test is an assessment that measures a range of cognitive abilities and provides a score that is intended to serve as a measure of an individual’s intellectual abilities and potential.


More questions arise from this definition.


What if your child does not quite get what is expected?




What if your child was not in a mood of answering at that particular time?


This is not just my opinion. Read on…


Even today, autism itself can make it hard to test a child’s intellectual ability. Imagine a young boy with poor language skills who prefers sameness and cannot tolerate fluorescent lights, all characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Place him in a brightly-lit office with an IQ examiner – a stranger – asking him to do things he doesn’t understand. Will he perform at his best, that is, assuming he can complete the test?


– from iancommunity.org


Still looking for more arguments?


“I need to see something to learn it, because spoken words are like steam to me; they evaporate in an instant, before I have a chance to make sense of them. I don’t have instant-processing skills. Instructions and information presented to me visually can stay in front of me for as long as I need, and will be just the same when I come back to them later. Without this, I live the constant frustration of knowing that I’m missing big blocks of information and expectations, and am helpless to do anything about it.”


– Ellen Notbohm, Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew


Let’s look at real life situations too.
Many of my students, including my son, Mohit performed poorly on IQ tests.
But with remediation due to Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), their lives were transformed.


Let’s look at the quality of their lives.


Vishal can cook up a storm.
Here he’s cooking 2 dishes at the same time.



No wonder we call him Masterchef!


Vishal is a naturalist.


Prasad on the other hand, is a marathon runner.
He runs 10K plus runs.


He also lives a good and fairly independent life.


autism success stories in India


He enjoys being out there with the rest of the world.
He loves taking part in marathons.


Prasad is a kinesthetic learner.


Watch Mohit painting in this recent video.
If you ask Mohit about shades of colors, he probably won’t tell you.


But the color combinations and strokes speak for themselves.
Look at the masterpiece he finally created!



Mohit is a visual learner. An artist.


Watch Shivansh playing the piano.



He taught himself this tune.
He’s had  only a couple of sessions with his music teacher.


Shivansh also has a way with words. He loves to read and type.


Shivansh is music smart and picture smart.


Of course each person can be inclined towards more than 1 kind of intelligence.


Look at this multiple intelligences image.


multiple intelligences


Instead of getting depressed about IQ scores, your time would be well spent in understanding your child and how he/she learns.


Observe your child closely.


What is he good at?


What comes in his way?


What are his strengths?


What are his difficulties?


Believe in your child.
You are his/her biggest advocate.
If you believe in your child’s abilities, so will the world.


If you need help in determining how your child learns, feel free to reach out at


Since I started this piece with a quote from an autistic individual, it’s only fair that I end with a quote from an autistic individual.
“Let’s give people with autism more opportunities to demonstrate what they feel, what they imagine, what comes naturally to them through humor and the language of sensory experience. As we learn more about autism, let’s not forget to learn from those with autism. There are poets walking among you and they have much to teach.”
– Chris Martin, Unrestricted Interest


Kamini Lakhani

Kamini Lakhani is the founder and director of SAI Connections. She has been providing services in the field of autism for more than 25 years and is the authorized director of Professional Training for RDI in India and the Middle East. She is also the mother of a young adult with autism.


  • Sulabha Krishnan says:

    You said it, Kamini! Unfortunately, the term “IQ” is considered the standard assessment measure of an individual. Its time to do away with this rigid definition of intelligence and replace it with a flexible, limitless interpretation…This can only happen when we come out of societal confines of what constitutes smartness, achievement, success, etc…I think this “lockdown” situation is actually helping people liberate themselves with this new mindset…People are starting to look beyond themselves, and starting to view situations with less judgment and more compassion.

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