Friday, October 22, 2010

Reflections on today....IQ's and Dutch Rules

Another heavy meeting at school today.  The topic?  Maya's IQ.  

 I am getting a little tired of these professionals who admit that they recognize that the standard Wisc test often does not reflect an accurate measure of intelligence or the ability to learn because these tests are difficult for many autistic children but who still say that this is the ONLY measure out there.  Is it really true?

A mere few moments on Google revealed a literal cornucopia of articles on the (un) reliability of IQ scores, particularly on autistic children.  I have not done enough research on the subject to know for sure but there certainly seems to be a lot of people out there who think that autistic children's IQ scores are often reflected as lower than where their actual cognitive abilities lie.  There are a lot of reasons for this, but since the majority of the standard IQ tests out there (my school uses the Wisc) are language based and many autistic kids are visually oriented, this makes it hard for the children to answer well this is reflected in a lower IQ score. 

There are other IQ tests which are more appropriate for the challenges faced by autistic kids, unfortunately those tests, while reliable and (it seems) sound, these tests are not recognized in the Netherlands and I am stuck with only the Wisc tests which tests Maya in a below average range, her IQ varies from 56-72 which puts her IQ at a below average range, in Dutch terms they call this category (difficult to learn), in the US, with a IQ result like this she would be considered to have a minor cognitive impairment.  

Maya had also been tested twice in her former school as well and the results were not so different, although her former school did not use the Wisc tests but SON IV tests which are given to children under the age of 7 in the Netherlands.  The scoring and the tests are completely different but the results there were also that Maya is in the below average range.  However, the difference is that in certain elements of the test Maya produced an 'age appropriate result' but there were 2 sections that due to her developmental delays pulled her score lower.  Her former school also supported the idea that the scores, while they couldn't be discounted completely that they should also not be taken as the final indicator of Maya's abilities.  Maya, toward the end of her time at her old school was unofficially tested again, without pressure or time limits and with a therapist that she was very familiar with and her results were significantly different than during her official tests.  While this cannot of course be counted as an official IQ it did confirm her former school's theory that Maya is much more capable than what she often shows and that the key to Maya and learning is to find a good formula of patience, teachers that are invested in her that she can build trust with and a reliable routine and of course support from us.

Her current school also supports that idea but I have more the feeling that Maya is more a number to them and they need to dot the i's and cross the t's on her and move her onto the next school, etc.  I should say that this feeling is more directed at our family counselor who I am sure is doing the best she can but does not really give us the impression that finding Maya the right educational and therapeutic options are high on her list of priorities.  Today the family counselor, when I asked about how much the difficulty in IQ tests for a child like Maya have an impact on her score.  The psychologist said that indeed that could be a significant factor and while the family counselor agreed she also said that the Wisc test is all there is. When I pressed that Maya needed to be on a longer term therapeutic regimen combined with school, I was again told that Maya should only be there for a total of 9 months because those are the rules (a very Dutch answer).  Then she did get a taste of the Dana Meijler lecture series about how I understood the rules, but that what was important to me was what Maya needs and that everything up to now has indicated that she needs therapeutic intervention in addition to school to realize her full potential and that I understood their rules but that if they were really interested in doing what was best for Maya they would keep her, rather than their rules at the forefront. 

Dana again making friends whereever she goes!! (Come on, I know you are thinking it!).  

One of the most difficult parts of this whole process is that all these meetings and reports are in Dutch, it takes me hours upon hours to go through them and really understand them and even then I am always a little bit insecure about it.  There is nothing I can do about it of course, so I do the best I can, but I often think that sometimes all these professionals don't always get where I am coming from and that cultural collisions are often ruling over these meetings.

 It seems like if we just follow the rules hook line and sinker Maya will end up in an environment which is based on her IQ and the chances are that she will not realize her full potential.  

As her mother, I do accept that she has special needs and challenges and that it is possible that she may not be able to learn what other kids learn so it is not me just blindly refusing to accept my child's situation.  Of course I would love it if Maya would be able to go to university one day and do what other people do, but if she can't, I accept that and will not feel disappointed because it is important no matter what Maya's abilities are that she is able to succeed and achieve as much as she can, no matter how much (or little) that is.  But what I fear more than anything at this moment is that her IQ and their rules will force the system to write Maya off, and she will spend her days in an environment where she may be able to do much more.


  1. When it comes to government programs, we often have to find the solution privately. I'm also concerned about Matan's cognitive abilities. Just today we were discussing what would happen if he continued to be "delayed". We came to a similar conclusion, that our goal was to help him get to a place that is good for him. Self sufficient, and finding satisfaction in life. Isn't that what we all want?

  2. When Cady was initially tested by a school psychologist, using the WISC-R, she scored a 66, which placed her at moderately cognitively impaired. Cady was still non-verbal at the time of the testing. I exercised, on Cady's behalf, her right to an IEE (Independent Educational Eval) and demanded that the gold standard IQ test for autistic children be used (LEITER-R), which is a non-verbal IQ test comparable to the WISC-R. Cady refused to complete the test (did not like the psychologist at all), but still scored within the gifted range.

    It is indeed extremely frustrating when so-called professionals attempt to use standardized testing on non-standard children. If I hadn't pushed and exercised her legal rights, she would have remained in a self-contained classroom away from her neurotypical peers still listening to a teacher go over the alphabet day after day, and not in the general education classroom (with a 1:1 Para) with gifted pull-out once a week, where she is excelling today.

    Keep fighting the fight---our children deserve the opportunity to reach their fullest potential!