Chapter 10


Intelligence vs IQ


Words to know for chapter 10:


Discrepancy - a difference between two things


Ability - what you are able to do


Achievement - what you have already done


Process - how your brain uses information


IQ - Intelligence Quotient


Intelligence - how smart you are


Estimate - and educated guess


'We have learned a lot about your learning disability. One of the most important things that we have learned is that you sometimes have difficulty showing how smart, or 'intelligent' you really are......especially in school.'


'But what is intelligence anyway????'


When teachers and psychologists talk about intelligence they use terms like:

  • ability
  • potential
  • capability
  • aptitude


All of these terms are supposed to indicate what you could do under the best circumstances.....with no interference.


But you do have interference. You have a learning disability that certainly interferes in some situations.


So, can your intelligence really be measured?


The answer to that question is a very definite maybe!!


You have probably taken at least one or two intelligence tests or 'IQ Tests' as part of the 'diagnosis' of your learning disability.


There are two main reasons for taking IQ tests:


1. To estimate your intelligence and 'learning potential'. This is important in order to measure the 'discrepancy' between what you should be able to learn and what you have already learned.


2. To start finding out about how you 'process' different kinds of information.


For most people, IQ tests provide a pretty good estimate of intelligence. But, when you have a learning disability, your processing weakness will naturally interfere during the IQ test just like it interferes in school.


School psychologists are trained to look beyond the IQ scores when testing your intelligence. You may have done much better on some parts of the test than you did on other parts. These differences can provide valuable clues to the psychologist about your real 'potential' and how you 'process' information.


Intelligence tests often provide three types of IQ scores:


Verbal IQ


Nonverbal (visual/perceptual) IQ


Full Scale (overall) IQ


Although the Full Scale score is usually used to indicate general intelligence, for some types of learning disability, either a Verbal or Nonverbal IQ score may be considered a better estimate of your real intelligence. But for other types of LD, any IQ score will 'underestimate' your real abilities.


So, the IQ score that you got when tested may not actually be the best estimate of your true intelligence.


It is very important for the psychologist who gave you the test to clearly explain how you did, what the different scores mean, and whether or not the IQ score is a good estimate of your intelligence.


If you don't remember, or were never really told how you did on your last IQ test, you may need to ask the psychologist to explain it to you again.

string on finger

Important! IQ scores are pretty good at predicting how well you will do in school, but may not really measure your intelligence. Don't feel 'dumb' if you got a 'low' IQ score. It probably indicates how serious your learning disability is . . . . not your real intelligence.


What about other forms of intelligence?


Many people believe that IQ tests give you very little information about your real intelligence.


A psychologist by the name of Dr. Howard Gardner came up with a very popular idea that everyone may actually have seven different types of intelligence:


1. Linguistic - Able to use words well for writing or speaking (like writers, speakers, etc.).


2. Logical-Mathematical - Able to use numbers well and solve problems (like scientists).


3. Spatial - Able to see the visual world accurately (like artists).


4. Musical - Able to use and enjoy musical forms (composers, musicians, etc.).


5. Bodily/Kinesthetic - Able to control your body to express feelings and ideas (dance, sculpture, sports).

football player

6. Interpersonal - Being 'tuned in' to other peoples' moods and feelings (teachers, psychologists, etc.).

teacher and students

7. Intrapersonal - Ability to understand and 'sense' yourself (psychologists, social workers, etc.).



Note: According to Dr. Gardner, the Linguistic and Logical-Mathematical areas are mostly used for learning in school.


If this theory is true, you could be very 'smart' in some areas even though you may have difficulty in school.


'Obviously, there is much more to intelligence than an IQ score or grades. I'm glad we've cleared that up.'


Review Questions:


1. What are two reasons that IQ tests are used to assess learning disabilities?


2. If you get a low IQ score, does that mean you aren't very smart?


3. Can IQ tests help to measure your 'processing' skills?


4. Name three of the seven different types of intelligence discussed at the end of the chapter.


5. Which type of intelligence is your strongest?


6. Which type of intelligence is your weakest?



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Return to the LDinfo Web Site to find out about any of the following topics (and more):

Learning disabilities - what is a learning disability (LD or SLD)?

Dyslexia: Dyslexia is a reading disability or reading disorder

Dysgraphia Dysgraphia is a writing disability or disorder

Dyscalculia Dyscalculia is a math disability or disorder

What is an attention deficit disorder (ADD, AD/HD, ADHD)?

Gifted LD: Can a student be gifted and LD?

Emotional/Behavioral issues and LD: Do LD students experience behavior problems or depression?

Section 504: What is a Section 504 plan?

What is special education?

What is processing?

What is a severe discrepancy?

What is a nonverbal learning disability (nonverbal LD or NLD)?

What is a central auditory processing disorder (CAPD)?

What is IDEA?

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Uncovering the Mysteries of your Learning Disability

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  • Chapter 2 - What Causes Learning Disabilities?
  • Chapter 3 - Discrepancy = Underachievement 
  • Chapter 4 - Processing: The Sensory Channels
  • Chapter 5 - Processing: The Cognitive Channels
  • Chapter 6 - Processing: Sensory + Cognitive
  • Chapter 13 - Becomming an Effective Self-Advocate


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