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Intelligence Testing for children with Asperger's Syndrome

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My son, who is 8, was just diagnosed with having Aspergers syndrome. He was originally diagnosed with ADHD, but he has always been a very smart boy. He is very interested in astronomy, and science. Is there anyway to test an IQ without taking a written test? He does not like to sit and work, he likes to communicate verbally. Also, my daughter just turned 6, and can read at an almost 2nd grade level. What are some of the things that a normal 6 year old in Kindergarten should be learning? I am just curious if she is advanced or not. 

A: Most certainly, there are verbal intelligence tests that cater for such needs. Broadly speaking, individuals with Asperger's syndrome have normal or above average intellectual capacity, and atypical or poorly developed social skills, often with emotional/social development or integration happening later than usual as a result. It is quite common to find children with Asperger's syndrome to show a learning style that has been characterized as the "Nonverbal Learning Disorders Syndrome." These children do not appear to have a sense of perspective, or a sense of patterns and relationships. They find it rather hard to assemble, construct, organize, or reproduce patterns, and may not grasp the "big picture" or pick out the key points in conversations, social situations, visual puzzles, or verbal stories. This is why children with Asperger's syndrome fair better in verbal tests and they should be considered verbal learners who need explicit, step by step descriptions and explanations. An educational psychologist will be best able to advice you on means to measure your son's IQ. Three books that may prove helpful are:

Dr. Deirdre Lovecky's book, " Different Minds: Gifted Children With AD/HD, Asperger Syndrome, and Other Learning Deficits" (Jessica Kingsley Pub, Mar 2004)

Sue Thompson's " The Sourcebook for Nonverbal Learning Disability " (available from LinguiSystems, 3100 4th Avenue, East Moline, IL 61244-9700, 1-800-776 4332; 1-309-755 2300).

Deborah Green's book, " Growing Up with NVLD" (1999) available from Silicon Heights Publishers (SKU # DL0827, 1-800-654-6623 or via the internet at

For your daughter, she is certainly advanced if she is reading at 2nd grade level for her age group. It does not matter what she should be learning based on normal learning for a 6-year old; what is important is that since she is advanced in her reading, you may want to provide more materials with a gradual upgrade. If she is in kindergarten, you may want to speak with her teachers and they may be able to advice you on appropriate materials. Make sure that she is given challenging materials so as not to bore her with very simple reading materials.


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