Assessment in Neuropsychology … so much more than IQ testing!

“IQ” testing can be quite informative when trying to understand a child…

Still, the term “IQ” sometimes give me the chills…

Because using a score on a scale to define someone’s way of thinking is simply too reductionist!!  Intelligence is a theoretical concept that has a long history and deserves quite a lots of training to be understood – if only basically.

Students who take my course PSYC 310 Intelligence (3 credits) at McGill University are introduced to facets and theories of intelligence. Still, administering and interpreting an IQ test takes much more than 4 months of training! See Attestation neuropsy for more details.

Most importantly, keep in mind that interpreting an IQ test and/or speculating about one’s IQ often wrongly assumes that all other functions are relatively well functioning….

Does the child has hearing difficulties (he can’t hear properly), or auditory integration difficulties (he struggles to process words of the teacher through the sounds of the class), or non-verbal difficulties, where he doesn’t understand jokes, mixed messages or prosody of language, Asperger syndrome , or some specific memory difficulties slowing his ability to recall the meaning of the words of a text..?

Then, is he able to pay Attention in class? Is he too smart and bored? Is he too anxious to pay attention – fearing, with or without reason that he might miss the bus? Is he very preoccupied by recent peer rejection? Is he confused by the constant change of routine? Has he eaten this morning? Could he be a visual learner/thinker who would benefit a different type of learning?

Let’s say he has attention difficulties.

What does that mean? Sustained attention? Divided attention? Selective attention? How would you qualify his attention when he is reading, compared to listening?

Have you noticed a significant struggle in his ability to read? Can he read regular words? Irregular words? Non words? Manipulate syllables? How is his grammar? Is he making attention mistakes while writing? Is he writing sloppy? Is it because of fine motor difficulties? Or maybe he thinks faster than he writes? Can he plan the writing sequence appropriately? Did he ever “memorized” the sound of each letter? Is he perceiving and integrating the letters well?

Etc. etc.

Once we have figured how the entry levels are functioning (i.e. verify that the visionhearingperceptual and attentional functions are well preserved) then we can venture in drawing conclusions about “higher level” cognitive skills, like reasoning and then speculate about intelligenceS.

But that is another can of worm. ?

To be continued…


Stay tune for a few thoughts on Gifted learners – in a few weeks