Bold Intelligence; how shyness and anxiety can impact on measuring a child’s intelligence

intelligence ('cognition')  is a vector

Image by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via Flickr

Being confident and bold are no more signs of intelligence, than shyness and anxiety are signs of lack of intelligence. Yet the way a child’s intelligence is measured, will often rely on how forth-coming and confident they are.

I’ve written previously about the confusions and misinformation surrounding the intelligence and the testing of the intelligence, of autistic children. Today I came across yet another piece shedding light on difficulties in measuring a child’s intelligence, which particularly shows how and why autistic children would under-perform on such tests (though the piece is not specifically written about autistic children, its insights clearly apply).

When a test requires a timely response, or observed behaviour, a shy or anxious child is at a disadvantage; whereby part of what the test is measuring (or rather, being distorted by) is the social skills and confidence of the child. If one decides that social skills and confidence is what one is trying to measure – rather than the ability to reason, to use skills, and recall information – then that’s fine. But clearly, that is not the intention of most intelligence tests.

This doesn’t mean autistic children are simpliciter more intelligent than the tests show (and it does not mean the more extreme proposal often made; that autistic people are inherently more intelligent than non-autistic people); but it does mean that there is an extremely good chance that autistic children’s intelligence is being underestimated, and sometimes with serious consequences. Particularly when intelligence tests are being used to set up a child’s future education and to set expectations in general for what our children can achieve.

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