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For Autistic Kids, IQ May Not Predict School Achievement
Date:11/23/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- IQ is typically a good predictor of academic performance, but not necessarily in autistic children, a new study shows.

Researchers tested the IQs and reading, spelling and math abilities of 30, "high-functioning" 9-year-old autistic children. Researchers also assessed the children's social functioning through parental and teacher reports at ages 6 and 9.

In 90 percent of the children, their academic achievement diverged substantially from predictions based on their intelligence-test scores.

So did the autistic kids do better or worse than expected?

The answer: both. Some did more poorly on academic tests than their IQs would indicate, while some did better than their IQs would suggest.

The breakdown was about half and half. Eighteen children did better on at least one academic test, particularly spelling and word recognition, than their IQs would predict, while 18 did worse on each test, suggesting a possible learning disability in that specific area.

"Ninety percent of the kids had a discrepancy. We didn't expect it to be such a common occurrence," said study author Annette Estes, a research assistant professor at the University of Washington Autism Center in Seattle. "In most typically developing kids, these discrepancies are very, very rare."

The study was published online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

IQ, or intelligence quotient, is assessed using standardized tests. An average score is 100, and normal is anything 15 points above or below 100. Prior research has shown that in the general population, IQ scores are a good predictor of academic performance.

Early diagnosis and early behavioral interventions are helping kids with an autism spectrum disorder make rapid strides that decades ago would have been unlikely, Estes said.

Up to 70 percent of autistic chi
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