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Determining IQ in Language-Impaired Child

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Noreen H. Joslyn, LISW, ACSW

Q: Our four-year-old son has recently displayed a very unusual fascination and interest with the presidents, the states, football team names and locations, and baseball team names and locations. He has all of the states memorized and he knows many of the capitals. He also knows the presidents in order and he wants to learn more about them. He is very quick, has a good sense of humor, and is a perfectionist. He has an exceptional memory. The interesting thing is that he has a brain tissue disorder called schizencephaly, which has caused him to have right-side hemiparesis. His speech is profoundly impaired and his oral motor skills are weak. He has tested very high on two different occasions on a preschool language test (96th and 99th percentiles) in receptive language. We would like to have an IQ test done, but we are afraid that the results would be inaccurate due to his poor speech. What test or tests should be administered to show his true abilities?

A: What a special little guy you have! He certainly sounds bright. I took some time to research this question. There are a number of tests which can be administered to nonverbal or language-impaired children to measure different aspects of intelligence. The caution that is issued for each test, however, is that they do not compare to a Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale or a Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children in rating a person's intelligence fully. A skilled examiner who is competent in testing special needs children could use scores from testing instruments such as these to project a child's general level of intelligence, but it may not be exact. For example, your son scored very high in receptive language skills tests, but there is more to intelligence than receptive language skills. Here are some possible tests for you to consider:

  1. Pictorial Test of Intelligence -- Useful for those with motor or speech handicaps, this test has dated norms (which decrease its score reliability for current use).
  2. Ravens Progressive Matrices -- A nonverbal test of reasoning ability, this can be used for children aged five to six years and up.
  3. Test of Nonverbal Intelligence (known as the TONI test).
  4. Kaufmann Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC) -- Some manual gesturing is required on the part of the child taking this test. The K-ABC has what's called a low ceiling, that is, it only measures so high on some of its subtests, which can limit its usefulness in evaluating gifted children.
  5. Slosson Intelligence Test -- This test requires spoken responses, but there are no time limits. Like the Pictorial Intelligence Test, it has dated norms.
  6. Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) -- This may the receptive language test your son already received. It is nonverbal, requiring the ability to point, but not the ability to read.
I hope you find this information helpful. Good luck.

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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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