A Little IQ Story

Ok, this was years ago, at least 20 years ago, but it stuck with me because it is kind of funny and makes a good point about “IQ testing.”

Enjoy your kids strengths without focusing on “IQ.”

I was evaluating a brother and sister because their parents wanted to know their learning style and their IQ’s.  I don’t recall if they actually had any learning concerns (the main focus of my work) about the kids, but the parents really wanted to know their IQ’s.  This is the sort of testing that I would not even do today.  If a parent calls with the “I want to know my child’s IQ” I give them my “knowing your IQ is like knowing the day you are going to die” lecture and talk them out of it (unless we can find a good reason to do it).

But this was in my olden days and I did the testing.  The kids had good IQ’s, somewhere around 115 to 120 – above average, but not “gifted.” However, these were nice, go-to-college, be-anything-you-want scores.  These children were youngish, about 8 and 10 years old.  They would  be maturing into some other skills that would also help them achieve.

The parents were devastated.

“But my husband’s IQ is 132 and mine is 150.”  I swear the mother said this multiple times as she tried to process these (to her) terrible scores her children had achieved.  Neither parent could understand how they had produced only-slightly-above-average children.  They were sure, with their own superior scores, their children would also be gifted.

I finally thought to ask the right question.  After another lament of “But my husband is a 132 and I am a 150.  How did this happen?” I thought to ask, “Who did your IQ testing?”

The mother answered, “Mine was part of a group testing done in my school when I was a child. My husband’s testing was done by his mother when she was training to give these tests.”

Even as she said it, she began to understand her years of slightly misguided thinking about these wonderful scores.  I smiled wryly and said, “Those group administered IQ tests don’t really count in comparison to individualized testing .  And the score certainly doesn’t count if YOUR MOTHER gave the test.”   From here, these parents reached a point of being enlightened, somewhat relieved, still a little disappointed, and reasonably amused at themselves.  Instead of getting the gifted children they had expected, they got an understanding of IQ testing and the  slightly harsh realization that they were a family of smart, but not necessarily highly gifted, people.

I told them that highly gifted was not the easiest thing to be.  Being just plain smart was much easier.

I reassured them that they were both smart people and that their children were bright and had the cognitive abilities to do well in life.

Sometimes, I could really do without the concept of IQ.