Does a low IQ score matter? Mental retardation becomes Intellectual Disability.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Could you be mentally ill?

What Causes Mental Illness?

Mental retardation becomes Intellectual Disability.

 

How much do I.Q. scores tell us?

There has been a lot of misunderstanding about I.Q. Scores, what they mean and just how significant a low I.Q. score may be. Some of the things we thought we knew have been challenged recently.

One definition of an I.Q. score is “The number of marks you make correctly on a piece of paper divided by your age.” We expect younger people to get lower scores and older people to get higher scores. What this does not tell us is what those scores are really measuring and what difference does it make.

The conventional belief is that people with low I.Q. scores are less mentally able.

This presumes that there are no biases in the test. Most test manufacturers or publishers work long and hard to eliminate biases. Still, we know that culture matters. Most I.Q. tests rely heavily on words, so if you speak two or more languages, but as a result know fewer words in each language you speak, you might score lower.

The presumption in the past has been that the higher you score on the I.Q. test the smarter you were and the better you should do in life. For someone with a low I.Q. we assumed that learning things would be harder.

This does not explain how someone with a low I.Q. score might be very good at a skill like music or a sport while the person with a high I.Q. might fail at those same skills.

Clearly I.Q. is not the whole story.

The mean I.Q. score is set at 100. The way I.Q. mathematics works are that the majority of people get scores from 85 to 115. That range is considered normal. So mix children with I.Q. scores of 85 and 115 together in a class and the teacher might have difficulty telling which is which, without reference to their test scores.

But if you get a score of 84, now we say you have “Borderline intellectual function.” If the 30 point differences between “normal” don’t make much difference how does that one point difference between 84 and 85 make so much difference?

The truth is small differences don’t make that much difference.

What matters most is what people do with the intelligence they have. So just like the really heavy kid may be no good at football and the skinny little kid may be able to run really fast with the ball, so to differences appear in how people use the intellectual resources they have.

The trend in the DSM-5 to move towards dimensional diagnosis rather than categories has changed our thinking from classifying mental retardation based on I.Q. scores to looking at how that low I.Q. is affecting the person.

So if the person is having difficulty with adaptive functioning because of their intellectual disability they get diagnosed with an intellectual disability disorder. If they are doing a good job of functioning despite a low I.Q. score they just may not get a diagnosis.

I realize this will take a while for the popular culture to catch up. It is no longer your I.Q. score that matters but what you do with what you got.

This shift by therapists and the APA is also likely to cause ripples in all that special education and those government programs that are still using I.Q. scores as a basis for services.

All in all, I see good and bad in this. Good if it reduces stigma against people simply because of the score they got on one piece of paper and bad if as a result of new definitions some people who need help get screened out.

Only time will tell.

So till then stop saying people have mental retardation and look to see if they are having difficulty coping with their life because of an intellectual disability or are they just sad, anxious or upset about life events like the rest of us.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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Why do those with a low IQ act so immature?

Intelligence.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Shouldn’t people with low IQ’s act more maturely?

Morning Question #27

That immaturity is actually a part of how intelligence was first measured. People’s chronological age does not always match their mental age.

The original idea was to measure their mental age and compare that to their chronological age. People who thought like a younger person were given a low IQ score.

IQ tests have been refined over the years and we know that IQ is in fact made up of many different factors. Some people are good at math and some are better with words. Since a lot of IQ tests consist of words on paper they are biased in favor of those who know more words.

Someone who has lived ten years should be in the 5th grade and should act like they were 10. But if they have a low IQ score, they score mentally like a 5-year-old and they should know what a 5-year-old knows, they probably will act like a 5-year-old also.

People also have something which is called emotional intelligence. Someone can be 30, score highly on an IQ test and still act and feel emotionally like they are a teen. We all know people who act like that.

Someone who has not yet learned the lessons necessary to think like a 30-year-old would also presumably act less mature emotionally than their chronological age.

There are standard development tasks that are customarily learned at a particular age. Failure to learn those tasks will affect the person’s mental and emotional behavior until learned.

Moral reasoning is also learned over time. We do not expect preschoolers to understand the difference between right and wrong in the same way adults should understand these differences. Unfortunately, right now it is hard to tell some politicians from preschoolers but that is another subject.

One place we do great damage to children and those with a low IQ is to expect them to act and behave like a much older person. It is easy to see that a small child cannot carry a heavy object until they grow up. It is harder to understand that a child can’t understand how to be more mature until they, in fact, become more mature and that takes time.

Yelling at a child to grow up and act their age does not, in fact, make them older or more emotionally mature. Pressuring young children to do things beyond their ability can do long-term damage to their emotions. We may need to set high expectations sometimes to motivate people but we should not punish them when our expectations turn out to be unrealistic.

The rub comes in most severely in the mentally challenged. Most of us can see that a child of five cannot play NFL football; they are not physically mature enough. But when it comes to the developmentally delayed it is harder to understand that while their bodies may look mature their understanding is still immature.

We should expect an emotionally immature person to act in an immature way and not upset ourselves when they can’t meet our unrealistic expectations.

So what do you think? Any comments on emotional maturity?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.