Is it Possible to Increase IQ in Children with Autism?
Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is a broad term that is used to measure many mental capabilities, such as linguistic, spatial, musical, bodily kinesthetic, and interpersonal intelligence. IQ scores can predict how well an individual can complete logical reasoning, use information to answer questions, or how well they are able to work through tasks. These capabilities are measured through numerous IQ tests. The most popular test for children is the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children that is usually conducted by a psychologist.
The IQ range in autistic children varies. According to Autism Speaks (n.d.), 44% of children with ASD have IQ scores in the average to above average range (i.e. IQ >85), 25% of children with ASD are in the borderline range (i.e., IQ 75-85), and 31% of children with autism have an intellectual disability (<70).
Like any other child, children with autism are able to learn and gain significantly in IQ through numerous ways. Even though having an intellectual disability does not decrease a child’s worth or value, helping them increase their IQ can be beneficial to their future, especially as they start school. Working on communication, linguistic, and comprehension skills can assist a child in understanding class material, doing homework, and completing tests. Additionally, working on a child’s interpersonal intelligence can help a child understand empathy and how to interact with peers to build long-lasting friendships/relationships. This article will look into increasing IQ through Early Intervention and through play.
Increasing IQ Through Early Intervention
Early Intervention is a form of support and education that is provided to children as young as 18 months. This includes speech therapy, occupational therapy, and Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA). Early Intervention can help teach a child with ASD basic skills such as communication, gross and fine motor skills, and thinking. In turn, these skills will be the stepping stones for further learning and gaining in IQ.
A study by the University of Southampton (2007) showed that two-thirds of a group of children with ASD who undertook two years of intensive Early Intervention had increases in IQ, used more advanced language, and had better daily living skills than those who received standard education.
A child with ASD can build a strong learning foundation through Early Intervention. Through consistent therapy sessions, they are able to learn basic skills such as imitating, responding to instructions, and labelling items. Some are also able to start talking and produce speech for communication.
Increasing IQ Through Play
There are some play-based activities you can do with your child to help increase their IQ, as well as bond with them! One activity would be reading books with them. Reading with your child can help improve their phonetic awareness, word recognition, and text comprehension. This can help with their academic skills once they start school! Books with pictures would be helpful and interesting for younger kids as it provides them with the corresponding visuals as they learn labels.
Next, doing puzzle pieces can be beneficial to increase a child’s spatial intelligence. Different types of puzzles such as matching images/shapes and juxtaposing puzzles can help. Examples include putting a puzzle piece of an animal against an identical picture on the board or putting together puzzle pieces of different body parts of an animal. This can help teach them how to solve puzzles, which can strengthen their spatial awareness, hand eye coordination, and even fine motor skills as they have to maintain their grip on small puzzle pieces and manipulate them accordingly.
Pretend play is also another essential activity that requires a child to use their imagination and creativity to create scenarios during play. Some examples of pretend play include dress up, pretending to play as a doctor, pretending to cook or clean, or even pretending to play as a superhero. They can learn how to imitate relevant actions from you. These activities can assist a child in developing interpersonal IQ and social skills as pretend play will require a child to interact with others and take turns.
In conclusion, it is possible to increase IQ in a child with ASD to some extent. However, realistic expectations need to be set. It would not be beneficial for the child if their parents or caregivers have overly high expectations and face disappointment when their children are unable to reach those unrealistic goals. Rather than defining progress as increasing their IQ, consider thinking about it as having them take a further step, no matter how small, in whatever areas they need to work on at the moment. Work at your child’s pace and we can help them be their best by providing an abundance of support and a nurturing environment to help them grow!
Written by Ashely.
Autism Statistics and Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved September 27, 2020, from
University Of Southampton. (2007, May 7). Autistic Children Can Gain Significantly In IQ Through Early Intervention. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 25, 2020 from