Newly Diagnosed and low IQ

Hi, i'm a 34 year old female recently diagnosed with Autism from Belgium. 

It wasn't big news to hear i'm on the spectrum because i kinda knew already that this was the case since longer and i have a brother who is on the spectrum as well, and probably my father too who is undiagnosed. 

I always refused to get myself tested because i was a happy and bright girl and tried to be independent like my peers but it was always with a mask on and great difficulties. Everything is a struggle, from going to bed at night on time (always slept very late) to being anxious about new situations and change, scared what other people may think of me in social situations, getting dressed on time and what to wear, getting out of the house is a big struggle, crossing the streets etc... 

And yet, i'm a very clever woman, i like philosophical topics, i like to act and perform on stage, i like music and good at it, writing and so on, i have manners and etiquette and i have a good eye for detail and good taste for furniture and clothes. I'm very good in speech and communication, and always know what to say to people in certain situations even offer help, in short, most of my friends and people i know see me as a very intelligent person and YET, i scored 65 on the IQ test they offered me during my testing which is extremely low. I always knew i had learning difficulties and that i'm slow in picking up things but that my IQ would be so low, is a slap in the face...I am desperate for answers and people in my environment are shocked by this result. The place where i took the test called me mentally weak (don't want to use the R word) They told me its due to my autism, that my autism is bringing down my intelligence (in the moment) I can relate to that cause when i did the IQ test i was often nervous and had a hard time focussing on things. So it surely pushes down my intelligence but i don't want to be on par with people who have mental weaknesses such as people with let's say Down Syndrome, although i think those people are amazing and lovely people. But i'm so confused because you would never guess i have such a low IQ on hearing me talk and meeting me. Most people are even shocked i have Autism cause i blend in well with other people. I do tend to have a unique look on life and i'm very compassionate but that graces me.

So i'm wondering what those IQ tests actually mean on people with autism and i'm thinking the worst now, and i have been crying since then. Feeling so worthless and small now. But it's probably very different from other people with mental challenges. I don't know, can someone tell me more?

Thanks so much!


  • Hi

    IQ tests are designed by neurotypicals to measure neurotypicals - from the way you write your story, I'd say there's no way that you're really less than 100 - probably much more - if you are tested properly by someone who actually understands how an autistic brain works.

  • Based on your writing I don't think you need to be concerned. Your writing level suggests you do not need to worry about your IQ.

    I have seen IQ measured in different ways and depending upon the type of questions you may end up with a different IQ.

    How did you take the test? If it was not done by a psychologist performing a cognitive assessment, then I wouldn't really accept those results. If they were part of a full cognitive assessment then the psychologist would be able to explain whether they are heavily biased due to your autism, or should be able to provide alternative tests that give a better measure of your intellect. 

    - This is just my opinion. I have seen a cognitive assessment done by an educational psychologist and seen a detailed report which has explained how testing may have been influenced by other factors.

  • May i ask, why the iq is such a concern? focus?

  • I was once asked to join a group of people who had rather high IQ scores. It was really good as I did not have to explain so much stuff nor simplify it. Unfortunately the highest IQ type of the group got uncomfortable with me being able to relate not only with them, but also to introduce higher and more complex considerations to everybody else too. The top IQ type was really into imagining they were better than everyone else in the group, and challenged me to an IQ test showdown. It was kind of amusing really given that someone with one of the highest IQ scores in the hundreds was trying to beat me with an IQ score that in the showdown came to 60.

    Perhaps consider the following article's opening paragraph or read the short article via the link:

    IQ is a really stupid concept

    It's stacked against most of the world.

     Too many of us use the terms “IQ” and “intelligence” as if they’re interchangeable. They’re not. An IQ score isn’t a magical signifier of smarts; it merely quantifies your ability to take a particular kind of test. Wealthy, white Westerners tend to perform among the best on these exams, but that doesn’t mean they’re smarter than the rest of the world. Research increasingly indicates that the advantages that group enjoys—like better education and healthcare—set them up for success on such evaluations. And it doesn’t hurt that the most expensive education is generally geared toward improving one’s ability to fill in the proper bubbles. Access to money, school, and medicine can all change apparent acumen—but IQ ignores inherent intellect. Race In some parts of the world, kids given IQ assessments were unfamiliar even with the concept of standardized testing, let alone with the question format or subject matter. The established correlation between race and IQ doesn’t reveal an inherent genetic advantage. It shows how closely your score is tied to health, wealth, and access to education.

    There is also this article stating much the same:

    If we were really smart, we’d get over our fixation on the IQ test

  • My IQ is 144 and I've met people with half of that, who I would say are smarter than me.

    Don't worry about it too much, it's just points.

  • Hi! I’m a 39 year old woman, I was diagnosed when I was 37. 
    I find it difficult to believe that your IQ is 65. Someone with an IQ of 65 would have significant intellectual disability and struggle to articulate themselves as well as you have. Do you know the specific IQ test that was used? I ask because there are different ones. Autism does not bring down a person’s IQ. In fact I read recently that while the percentage of the general population with an IQ of genius level is less than 1%, in the autistic population it’s about 45%! 
    I love the name Moonmaiden Slight smile Please make this your username!

  • Hi, Moonmaiden. It sounds like we have a lot of similar experiences and interests (I love music, stage and writing too) :)

    You don't sound unintelligent at all - you sound very bright and articulate. If I were you, I wouldn't focus on the results of the IQ test - it's just a number and it doesn't matter. Your nerves could have affected your performance (whereas you might have got a much higher score under less pressure), and like Plastic suggested, it may just be that it's a test designed for neurotypical people who don't understand how the autistic brain works.

    The IQ test won't change your future in any way (I don't even know my IQ and have never been asked for it), so try not to dwell on it.

  • Hey Kitsune,

    The test they took was the WAÏS-IV-NL, it has different categories such as, verbal understanding,  

    reason, memory and how fast you process information. For verbal i have 77, reason 62, memory 68, and speed of progressing information 73 and the total score of 65.

    They sent me another email because of my concern and told me it's due the autism that i scored low, that if there was another test that took in account i could get distracted or could get out of focus at the moment that i would score higher. So i feel more relaxed about it now...but i have doubts about myself now... I know we should not use the names ''High and low functioning'' but where do i stand?

    It's confusing because i also don't believe that's my actual IQ - i'm really clever but i'm slower and i can get distracted easily. 

    My concern is that i'm scared to be called intellectual disabled... I have a very low self esteem and that makes it even worse.

  • Hi Duckbread,

    Thanks for your reply and kind words Slight smile 

    I think you are spot on when you say that my nerves could have affected the performance. My brain is never really thoughtless even when i focus on something, sometimes other things pop in my mind. I received an email back from the centre i took the test and she told me that it's due the autism, not the autism that brings down my IQ but the autism influenced it. Yet, she could not clearly tell me when i asked if that means i have an intellectual disability too which is often the case with autistic people. And that's my concern. Because i know i'm bright and clever. They did write on my papers that i am mentally weak. (below average) I hope it's just the autism and nothing else.