The Raven’s Matrices test for reasoning, novel problem-solving abilities, and high-level abstraction by using non-verbal multiple choice questions. As the PLoS ONE study’s authors emphasize, while a “distinctively uneven profile of intelligence is a feature of the autistic spectrum” — such that “autistic spectrum intelligence is atypical” — it is also “genuine, general, and underestimated.”
We haven’t had Charlie take the Raven’ss Matrices and since testing is always stressful for him — he knows full well he is being judged and evaluated — I don’t think that we will in the near future. But he clearly has a sense for the kinds of non-verbal questions about patterns that the Raven’s Matrices focus on. Often my husband Jim and I have wondered if the very large gap between Charlie’s intelligence and his ability to speak and use words — he has not taken to using any augmentative communication devices — is one reason for the difficult behaviors he can have (including self-injurious ones); that he is so frustrated that he can’t say what he is thinking, his feelings and thoughts come out in a very messy way. He is now at a school where the teachers and therapists understand him very well so those difficult moments have lessened, but can still happen at times of change and transition.
According to the On Special Education blog, while psychologists often note that an IQ test does not seem to really convey a child’s intelligence, school staff “are also under pressure from schools to assess students in certain ways.” I appreciate Carothers’ response:
“Do what you have to do to satisfy your districts and then do with the kids what serves them best.”
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