IQ is generally measured through an individually or group administered test of intelligence. Throughout the 20th century, a variety of different IQ tests have been developed, each defining intelligence slightly differently.
Critics of IQ tests claim that the tests are not accurate measures of intelligence. Research and practical experience has shown us know that that any number of factors – from being financially poor to poor tester training to a medical condition – can effect a person’s IQ.
When a person’s IQ score comes back below the normal range, or lower than what’s expected based upon the person’s achievement, it’s important to try to understand why. Is the low IQ a function of the person’s poor cognitive ability? Or, did something happen during the test experience that spoiled the results?
Factors Associated With Low IQ
Some genetic or medical conditions can cause a baby to be born with low intelligence, even if the parents have high intelligence. Those conditions include, but are not limited to
Problems During Pregnancy
Women who drink excessively during pregnancy risk giving birth to a child with fetal alcohol syndrome, who has a low IQ. In addition, certain complications during delivery may cause blood flow to be limited to the baby’s brain, causing a permanently lowered IQ.
Problems During Childhood
Lead poisoning and malnutrition have both been linked to low IQs in children.
At any point in a person’s life, certain illnesses can affect the brain and cause cognitive disabilities. Whooping cough, measles, or meningitis, if not treated properly, can lower a person’s level of intelligence. In older adults, dementia can also affect intelligence.
Other Causes That May Lead to a Low IQ Score
Sometimes a person’s IQ score may be lower than expected because of issues unrelated to intelligence. For example, individuals with motor skills problems, like not being able to hold and write with a pencil or grab and move blocks, may score low on an IQ test, even though they are of average or above-average intelligence. Also, people with poor communication skills will not score high on a traditional IQ test due to the large amount of talking involved with the testing.
A child should never be defined by a single number on an IQ test. However imperfect IQ tests may be, they can still provide useful information about a student’s strengths and weaknesses. When incorporated as part of a comprehensive evaluation of a person’s psycho-social and medical history, educators and parents can better understand how best to meet a student’s learning needs.
Last modified on April 14, 2020