View Full Version : Cognitive Testing: Are They of Any Use?

05-24-2014, 12:07 PM
DS, since he had just turned five - so 10 years ago! - has undergone a number of cognitive tests, mostly the WISC IV, which is insane, but also new ones that are not released yet but of which DS has been part of research to see how to best test Autistic kids ('cause the various Weschler tests are NOT designed for people with neurological disorders).

He has had IQs of 113 to 148 on the WISC IVs, and in between on other tests. He is what is known as the "typical Asperger Syndrome test subject" when it comes to cognitive testing, as his IQ score depends on many things - not the least how the different parts of his brain are developing at any given time. He comes up on some tests as being genius-level in reading comprehension and mathematical thinking, then falls apart when trying to recall something in a reading comprehension quiz and has to learn almost everything in Algebra by rote as he finds it non-intuitive. Of course, any sensible person can see that where he is so apparently gifted, it doesn't mean that equates to doing well in a textbook-learning situation - it's about how his brain works. I ought to add he finds Geometry so damned easy he gets through four weeks of lessons in less than one. He's like "pfft - this is baby stuff", and he analyses Shakespeare and Tennyson in a flash, looking at me as if everyone ought to have the same insight.

How many SHS members' kids have been tested, either through regular school, or while homeschooling? And did you find the results to be accurate, inaccurate, useful, or useless?

Your thoughts!


05-24-2014, 04:43 PM
Our son was testing at 75 IQ when he moved in with us from his foster home. When I met him, I knew that couldn't at all be true. About six months after placement he was tested twice (once at school and once through private psychologist) and scored just over a 100 at both. Both psychologists said he wasn't pay much attention at all to the test and was answering impulsively so it could be that his IQ score is actually even higher than he was last tested. I have had several people comment to me that the way he acts is a classically gifted child in the way that he is constantly testing boundaries and questioning every.single.thing. I am not sure if his intelligence makes it hard for him to follow rules or he has some other mental differences or a combo of both that make life more challenging for him. Nobody can say for sure what is causing life to be harder for him because there are so many factors like traumatic life history, being born very prematurely at 6 mod, and then possible undiagnosed mental illness. We have said that if behavior doesn't improve after 6 years old, we will go for another neuro-psych evaluation. Just for the sake of figuring out what other interventions he may need.

My twins have been tested. I don't know if it has been helpful. They have a very rare disorder that not many professionals know about which largely influence how they function. It's frustrating because I don't think the evaluations help at all if the practitioner doesn't know much about the disorder except about what they gather on a google search or medical textbook which is as much as I know.

I have debated getting my oldest tested. I have a big hunch that she is gifted. She fits almost every characteristic when I look at check lists for gifted people. But I don't know what it would do to know that my neurotypical daughter is gifted. I am not sure if it would help her gain access to anymore resources since we homeschool. And I have looked at private gifted schools websites and the cost of those schools aren't even close to our budget, so we couldn't even send her to a private school if we felt like she needed more than we could offer at home.

05-24-2014, 06:40 PM
We did a full round of neuro testing at the urging of an evaluator w/KKI. She suspected that DD fell into the gifted end of the pool, but wanted confirmation and, she hoped, it would pin down more closely where DD's abilities fell. The evaluator had done a 'best guess' estimate of where she thought DD was falling, but she wanted solid numbers to confirm it. She also thought a neurological eval would be able to confirm DD's processing lag.

That said, I was glad we had it done because it gave us a professional's opinion...we could tell well-meaning family and friends that 'things were under control' and mean it. Even more importantly, it gave us confirmation that we weren't imagining her abilities. If anything, we'd been underestimating them. When she was 5yo, she was in the middle of 2nd grade material and blowing through it with no problems. Family and friends thought we were pushing her. I knew that we were working hard to rein her in. Whatever we gave her, she gobbled it up. The evaluator felt that DD's reading level was at least a 6th grade one, her math was around 3rd grade, and her drawing skills were that of a 10yo. Knowing this, I was able to stop questioning myself. So many family members had felt we were pushing her with the reading stuff, it made me start questioning things. In the end, DH and I knew that we were okay listening to our inner compass vs. listening to family, friends, and well-meaning educators.

I checked off the 'maybe - IQ scores don't tell us the full story' option because I know so much depends on the kiddo. Some kids just aren't good test takers but they're still wicked brilliant. Also, a high IQ doesn't mean squat if there isn't some kind of self-motivation going on too. There needs to be drive with the brains. And then there's the social bugaboo. KKI warned us that DD had the social skills handicap that can come with being gifted. If I remember correctly, the woman's words were, "From what we've seen, the higher the IQ, the more impaired the social skills tend to be. And given your daughter's social skills, it reinforces my belief that she falls onto the gifted end of the spectrum." IOW, your kid is so quirked out, she's gotta be smart. Being smart is nice, but there's many times I'd love to shave 20 points off her IQ if it meant she could suss out some of the societal rules. :rolleyes:

05-24-2014, 07:39 PM
I checked maybe simply because of course it's never the whole picture. However, I think having a full eval done on a child with a really good evaluator is invaluable if you have a child with any sort of learning issues.

That said, that opinion was formed for me through my teaching career, not through my own kids. I've never had them tested because they've never needed it. One ds suffers from anxiety, but not in a way that has led for a need for an eval. I don't suspect that either of my boys have learning issues at all so I wouldn't pay for it under that circumstance.

05-24-2014, 08:31 PM
Maybe. It might be useful in certain situations. If it helps a family/individual clarify or manage educational issues, it is useful. If it helps in accessing specialized services, it is useful.

I intend to actively avoid these kinds of tests for my kiddos, based on my own experiences as a child (stressful, conflicting results, parental pressure). Also, like Farrar's, my kids have never shown a need for them. They are typical kids, but dd is obsessively driven and ds shows some warning signs of perfectionism - I suspect they would both be inclined to put too much emphasis on a test result that was essentially meaningless for your average kid.

05-25-2014, 01:38 AM
I, too, had a kid on the spectrum, and he was severe enough with a variety of struggles related to autism and other issues (verbal issues, sensory issues, and even fine and gross motor issues) that we had enrolled him in an extra year of preschool from ages 5 to 6, in a private special needs therapy school, while we figured out what to do for kindergarten. He couldn't even hold a pencil properly to write, he couldn't be in a building with fluorescent lights, he was allergic to many foods and was highly chemically sensitive. He had neuro issues, digestive issues, and on and on. When I met with his preschool teacher at the special needs school to discuss some ideas for his IEP for public kindy (no private school would take him), the teacher told me that we would need 2 IEP's. One for special needs, one for gifted. I remember thinking - "What? This is a kid who has a behavioral therapist, OT, and PT working with us to help him learn to dress himself! Academics aren't the issue here, and no, no, no! We don't another thing to be different with this kid, we really, really need something (anything) to be just plain ole' NORMAL, please."

So I sort of disregarded that teacher's suggestion, because we really had bigger issues than this kid's academics. He had a host of physical and medical issues, and a PTSD diagnosis from those medical issues on top of his autism diagnosis. So I trotted him off to the local PS to register for kindergarten, because I had no idea what else to do with him. After the initial meeting, the teacher who evaluated kids registering for K, called the guidance counselor and a whole host of other specialists in and had us schedule a full evaluation, including testing for gifted. I just didn't really see the point at that time, but she said he blew through every thing she gave him to do, up to 5th grade stuff. He literally did their testing sitting under a table because he couldn't handle the lighting, the noises in the school, and was too anxious in a room of strangers. He was evaluated over the course of a number of days, and they even went to observe him in his special needs preschool setting and met with of his current therapists (I believe at that point in time we had....5 or 6 he was meeting with, at minimum once a week). They came back with a list a mile long of his needs for speech, OT, PT, executive functioning, expressive and receptive language processing, fine and gross motor issues, sensory integration, blah, blah, blah - all of which we already knew and were working very, very hard on. Then they told me that he "flew through" their IQ testing for elementary kids, and they didn't have adequate materials to test him properly as they never needed it before and they'd never had a child test so high to enter kindergarten and they didn't really know what to do with him because his challenges were complex and included not just autism spectrum issues, but physical and emotional issues.

OTOH, they didn't have the resources at the elementary school, academically to teach him. They felt academically he'd thrive in 5th or 6th grade, but he may go through the material faster than the other kids, and of course, no one was comfortable putting a 6 year old in with 12 year olds, and certainly not a 6 year old with so many issues. They thought they'd try him in a mainstream K class, because all the special needs classes were academically more aligned with preschool, but he would have needed two aides to be able to function in a mainstream class - one employed by the state for special needs kids, who would be with him to and from school, and one in the classroom, employed by the school.

I still didn't get it at that point. I really did not see how "gifted" or not would make any difference to my kid's school experience. I was worried about his allergies, his sensory issues, his inability to tell me if he was bullied or abused. I was putting my kid in school, yet academics were the last thing on my mind. NOW that seems odd, but at the time, that's where we were.

Then I went in to observe a typical K classroom. Suddenly, it started to click, how different my kid was. It was the next to last week of school, so these kids were basically done with kindergarten. The teacher had 5 felt ducks on a board and had them numbered and had 3 fly away and the kids were to figure out how many were left. In my mind, of course that makes sense as basic kindergarten introduction to subtraction. But when I sat there and tried to picture my kid in that class, I finally understood why the school kept telling me they didn't know what to do with him. Because I knew my kid knew that 2 ducks were left, and could tell you that 3/5 flew away and that was also 60% and I also knew that he'd spend that whole lesson trying to share with the class (with great difficulty with his speech, verbal, and language processing issues) that those looked like wood ducks and they were males and he would want to compare and contrast their preferred habitat and nesting/mating habits with wild geese, which he already knew about from reading adult books by naturalists, for fun.

And that's when I started to realize I had better start thinking about other options.

So the test results in and of themselves didn't do squat for me. They were meaningless. They told me numbers and the school was all in a twitter about those numbers, but all I could think was "so what?" We had so many challenging issues to deal with I couldn't see how that mattered. And really, it didn't and still doesn't. But observing an actual kindergarten class and seeing how different my kid was from a typical kindergarten kid, THAT was the eye-opener. And the seed was planted that maybe we had to nurture his gifts as much as we were working to help him overcome his many challenges. Homeschooling offered that and when he was able to move through academics in a way that engaged him, he then started to feel capable and strong and good about himself. When his intellect was finally engaged he was no longer bored and school wasn't just about "baby stuff" (he said he had thought he must be really stupid because when he was in preschool he wasn't taught anything new!) A few months into our first year of being home for school he was blossoming in ways I'd never expected and when we asked him what he thought about continuing to homeschool he said he loved it and he had never realized (after 3 years of preschool) that school was to learn new things you didn't already know, and now that he could do that, he loved it.

The only thing the testing did for us was inform the school that they couldn't handle his academic needs, and give me a chance to see that I had to find a better way, and to not doubt his ability or to question when he wanted to try something academically that seemed too difficult for a kid his age. Eventually I realized I had better figure out how to best work with him and help him and so I read a few books about gifted kids and that did help me to adjust our approach to learning (and life) to decrease frustration for him and us. To be honest, testing did help when a therapist or doctor would question something odd about him or his education or how we were doing something, to have those results to hand them. Most hadn't dealt with a kid like this before, and showing that we had testing done at some point - by a school - would calm people down.

We've been homeschooling years, and I have never had him tested again, nor do I plan to, and can't imagine why we would.

05-29-2014, 02:36 AM
I doubt if we will ever get Kiddo tested unless it becomes necessary for some crazy reason. I just remember them being completely pointless and counter productive when I was a kid, but I also remember them being mandatory to get into certain programs so who knows.

05-29-2014, 10:46 AM
At the end of second grade in Montessori (a wonderful school where she'd been there since 20 months of age) our kiddo was not reading. Her teacher was horrible and it was a 3 year cycle with the teachers (1st-3rd) and I really fought my husband to get her out of that school because she'd wasted 2 years of my kid's life already. DD had ADD and we were treating it, but we did the full neuro evaluation with a local university that late May. We wanted to rule out any underlying LD issues...sometimes they can hide in a kid with ADD, especially one as easily distracted as she was.

So I checked "maybe." I think we are all exceptional in our own way. And the results of the test showed she had no LDs, she was certainly bright and even gifted in some areas...she simply had a horrible teacher! And her reading scores were at a late 1st grade level.

We signed her up right there and then for remedial reading and some COGMed training (it works on executive functioning, getting her to concentrate short-term on things) and by the end of July she was reading at a 4th grade level. So it was worth it for us.

05-29-2014, 11:33 AM
In one way, they are useful. I won't lie - it's nice to watch people jump through hoops to try to make sure your kid isn't going to be overly bored. We had to do the WISC testing for DS to go to PS this fall. But as Carolyn said, there has to be personal motivation, too. My sister doesn't have an IQ as high as I do, but she studied her ASS off in school to make straight A's. She would seriously spend 4-5 hours a night on homework, where I breezed through with maybe 45 minutes of work total while taking what most would have considered harder classes. Some of my classmates I would have thought weren't that bright once upon a time are now attorneys and business owners. There's no measuring the aptitude of someone's ambition and drive.

06-04-2014, 01:57 AM
If we are just talking about IQ tests, no. I know my kids pretty darn well. I don't need a test to tell me where their strengths are.

My husband and siblings were all tested. His mom then put all her time and money to the one with the highest IQ, which to her, indicated highest likelihood of 'success.' They all knew it. What a sucky parent.

I would feel the way I do about IQ tests (always have) even without the above story, but I wanted to include it as one of many examples of the harm these tests can do.

06-05-2014, 10:41 AM
The trouble with testing is that the most common one, the WISC IV (thanks a LOT, Weschler LOL) is not designed for anyone other than people who have "normal" intellectual development. People with ASDs and other neurological conditions will have varied success when given the WISC IV, depending on the day, their mood, what the environment is doing to their sensory issues, etc.

My DS and I both test weirdly and our IQs can have up to 30 points' difference - which is not normal, and hence our IQ scores cannot be used. Not a big deal for me, and was only for DS when schools would latch onto the lowest score (113) rather than the highest (148) so they could declare him "above average" and not have to figure out a way to help him.

Tests that show strengths and weaknesses are FAR more useful, IMO. Then again, when homeschooling, testing is so rarely needed, at least for IQ.

07-01-2014, 10:47 AM
Very interested in this subject.... was told this year that I should get younger son tested. Basically his writing sucks, the tester was like there could be something there... what the hell does that mean? Both of my boys are delayed in writing and spelling...older son was tested before 1st grade (for ADHD) was told language and math disabilities but they never told us his IQ? I hate giving them any kind of labels because like some have said some kids just don't test well...(aka oldest) But always wanting to find out any info that would help them and me...

07-01-2014, 11:45 AM
I don't know how the school systems work with test results, but when we had DD tested through KKI, they gave us written reports for all tests done. The scores were there, their opinion/diagnoses, and their recommendations for down the road. It was a pretty thick pad of paper.

Is it possible to contact the school district to see if you can get a copy of his old test scores? I'd do it out of curiosity. I'd still want a more current test, though. The lovely folks at KKI explained to us that IQ is a fluid thing. It can go or down, sometimes drastically, and it can be really hard to accurately gauge in the younger years.

Our local school system will do basic testing for kids who are in the school district. But a parent has to request it. And the test has to be given by their psych department at the school the child would attend if the child were in school. The way they explained it to me, it sounded really icky (there were to be three employees present to administer the tests). More than anything, I didn't want the school system having her test results because of the whole 'label' thing. I think labeling is WAYYYY overdone. Yes, it's good to know a child's strengths and weaknesses. I don't think, however, it's a good idea to stick a label on them and right them off as being/having XYZ for the rest of their natural life. :rolleyes:

07-04-2014, 03:47 PM
It is true that IQ score can vary, especially over time. In fact, if tested when a child, then again as an adult, it is expected that one's IQ will be higher - given that there are no "unusual" happenings in the person's life over that time, that is. Any severe illnesses or accidents can most certainly push a score down, while exposure to an environment where one is surrounded by constant 'higher thinking' can push a score up. However, even if this person's life stays relatively the same, and they grow up not really having drastic changes put upon them, their IQ *should* go up - but not by too many points. OTOH, diseases such as Alzheimer's has proved to bring scores down, no matter what else happens in their life.

The issue I mostly have with IQ tests is that schools only really like them for the score. They don't want to read through the part that matters: the strengths and weaknesses of the child in an academic environment, and how the child could be helped. The education system only allows for simple categorisation: above a particular score, put the kid in G&T classes; below a particular score, write up a 504 or an IEP; within those scores, who cares? They're "normal", apparently...

My husband, my son and I test AWFULLY. Not that our scores are awful - but we show such a wide range from test to test that you'd swear it was different people doing the same test. DS has scored from 113 to 148. I have scored from 120 to 170. As for DH - he scores anywhere from 160 to nearly 190. And we were all tested in a short enough period of time between each test that ageing didn't affect the scores. We are just all neurologically...hmmm...well, *weird* LOL.

I will never allow DS to be tested again, not while he's still a minor. If he wants to be tested for whatever reason as an adult - well, that's his choice, of course.


07-05-2014, 07:52 PM
Yes I test ok but oldest has issues with testing always has...youngest does well with our required end of the year testing , we use WoodCock Johnson so i can see how they are doing all the way around:)

Probably going to think about it more this year and then decide what we should do...thanks for all the help ladies!