Signs & Symptoms

Intelligence

Is your child struggling to understand?

Some brains function differently. Your child may work very hard but still fall behind in school. Some children who tested gifted as a young child may find themselves struggling at a gifted school. Your child may have seemed fine in preschool but is now having a hard time keeping the pace in elementary school. Or, perhaps your child has older siblings that always did well in school, but your youngest child is not finding that same success.

Sometimes our abilities change in response to an event. For example, birth trauma, metabolic conditions, or head injuries may affect the working of the brain. Our brains also change in response to exposure. Children from educationally enriching homes tend to score higher on IQ tests [1].

These differences may also be genetic. Some children’s minds are endowed with more skills and abilities simply as a result of DNA.

Problems with overall cognitive ability tend to impact how children understand concepts and ideas. They may have difficulties solving problems or thinking logically. Often, academic problems are involved, such as difficulty learning new letters or words, understanding math concepts, or following along with a class discussion.

What do challenges with Intelligence look like?

  • Lost in school?
  • Not as quick as classmates on schoolwork?
  • Thinking of great ideas but falling behind in school?
  • Seeming lost when introduced to new concepts?
  • Getting frustrated with homework?
  • Struggling more than classmates?
  • Not on grade-level in spite of support and intervention?
  • Having a hard time in several subjects?

Why is Intelligence happening?

Cognitive ability, or intelligence, is a measure of innate ability in thinking, reasoning, and problem solving. Cognition is another name for smarts. These skills are somewhat innate. To a degree, we are born with it. The reason for assessing cognition is to learn about a person’s intellectual strengths and weaknesses. Intelligence is most often measured on an IQ (intelligence quotient) test. Standardized IQ tests such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children (WISC) are used to get a snapshot of your child’s intellectual skills in comparison to peers the same age. Although IQ tests do not tell the whole story of your child’s abilities, psychologists can use these scores to guide recommendations for support and intervention.

How can I manage Intelligence at home?

If you are wondering about your child’s intelligence or if your child has unexplained learning challenges, an IQ test may be warranted. This test can tell you what your child’s overall skills look like and provide a profile of strengths and weaknesses.

It is important to note that IQ scores do not tend to stabilize, or stay the same, until around third grade. Therefore, if your child is tested in pre-school or early elementary school, the score may not hold up through grade school.

Here is what to do, depending on how your child scores on an IQ test.

Very high (125-130+): If your child’s scores are at or above the 95th percentile, he or she may be identified as Gifted and Talented (GT). Children with scores over 130 are in the Very Superior range of intelligence and generally qualify as Gifted. Scores over 140 are considered Highly Gifted [8] and scores over 160 are considered Profoundly Gifted [8].

What to do: Gifted students generally require more enrichment in the areas where they are gifted, such as: gifted programs at school, after school clubs, and summer camps [3, 4]. Interested readers are invited to learn more in the Gifted article. An ‘Advanced Learning Plan’ should be developed for the school to address how your child’s gifted needs will be met.

High-average (111-124):  If your child scores in the high average range, he or she is likely to have strong academic skills. These students are often the highest achieving of all. Children of high average intelligence have the advantage that most topics come fairly easy to them. They also may not share some of the challenges that gifted kids do.

What to do: Children with high average performance on a Full Scale IQ score sometimes qualify for gifted programs. The logic there is that often children will be gifted in some areas, even if the overall IQ score is below a certain ‘cut-off.’ Children with high average scores can generally handle rigorous programs and advanced curricula.

Average (90-110): If your child’s scores are in the average range, in most ways, this information is good news. Generally, instruction in school is geared toward individuals with your child’s abilities. Also, with adequate effort, school and career endeavors will generally not be too difficult to grasp or master.

What to do: In a very educationally driven family, a child with an average IQ may stand out. Children with average intelligence tend to struggle in gifted schools and advanced programs. School may be challenging when the child has high skills in one area (Verbal IQ, for example) and low skills in another (Non-Verbal IQ, for example). If your child has average intelligence and is struggling in school, tutoring or a homework club at school may be helpful.

Low average (80-89): Children with low average scores tend to struggle in at least one subject academically. It may be that the child scores in the average range on the Nonverbal Index but quite a bit lower on the Verbal Comprehension Index. In this case, the child may do okay in math but is likely to fall behind in reading and writing.

What to do: As the subjects get harder in upper elementary school, your child may require lots of support at home for homework. Tutoring may be needed to help your child keep up with the pace of instruction. Although an Individualized Education Program (IEP) may not be necessary, it is likely that your child will need support at school in the areas that are more challenging.

Very low (79 or lower): If your child’s overall FSIQ score is in the Borderline, Very Low, or Extremely Low range, there are concerns with how your child’s brain processes and understands information, which may limit certain opportunities.

What to do: Allow your child to pursue exploration and enrichment at his or her own pace. Your child’s brain is still learning and developing all the time. However, pushing too hard in areas that are extremely challenging can be detrimental to your child’s self-esteem and happiness.

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) with associated academic services is very likely required to meet your child’s educational needs. Further, your child will need accommodations at school. For example, abstract concepts should be paired with clear and concrete explanations. Tasks should be broken down step-by-step. Direct academic support should be provided in the areas where your child is struggling.

How can Clear Child Psychology help with Intelligence?

If your child is struggling with this symptom to the point that it is getting in the way of his or her learning, relationships, or happiness, it’s time to seek professional help.

We Help You, Immediately

Our Free Discovery Session is a 20-minute consultation where we can talk one-on-one about the concerns and questions you have about your child.

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We Help Determine Next Steps

Our Initial Consultation allows us to get a deeper understanding of your child’s needs and determine if an assessment is appropriate.

We Build a Customized Plan

Our Assessments allow us to determine your child’s specific strengths and challenges. We can use this information to develop a customized support plan which includes: referrals

We Connect you with the Right Professionals

Once we understand your child’s needs, we will help families get connected to the right specialists. No more guesswork, no more wasted time and resources.

We Provide Ongoing Coaching and Support

Our Coaching Packages allow us to continually support families as they continue their journeys. Parental coaching, life-skills practice, and school advocacy are just a few examples of ways we help.

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