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Can a child be normal in spite of low IQ scores?

Wednesday, 31 January 2007
Answered by: Dr. S. Anandalakshmy
Consultant in Child Development & Education,

Chennai
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Q. My 12-year-old stepdaughter has a low IQ (74), but I don't see any signs of her being slow or mentally challenged. She is like any other pre-teen. Her grades were pretty bad, but with extra effort, they are on the rise again. The problem is, based on her IQ score. Her grandmother (her legal guardian) is going to put her in special education classes. Is it possible to be normal even when you have a low IQ? What should my husband and I do to help her? I am very worried that putting her in those classes could be more damaging than helpful. Is it possible for a father to give a baby fetal alcohol syndrome because he drank at the time of conception? The mother didn't drink at all during pregnancy.

A.  I would suggest that the girl of 12 is assessed again. Sometimes there are errors and having her abilities tested again, could be useful. Since your observation is that she has improved, it is possible that she might get a higher IQ score. In that case she may continue in the regular school. But as the lessons become more complex and therefore harder, she will be better off in a setting that helps her to do her best without making her feel inadequate. Please note that Special schools are not damaging to children with special needs. If she does well in that place, there is a possibility of her taking up a vocation at a later time. She may be weak in spelling or Maths, but she will have strengths, which should be encouraged. There is no research evidence that the father's intake of alcohol has any connection with the fetal alcohol syndrome or any aspect of the infant's health. You can help her by being affectionate, firm and kind. Listen to her view of things and ask her opinion on some small decisions. Give her stimulating mental exercises, in the form of games and puzzles, at her level. Be patient when she learns. Reward her with a smile or a pat when she completes something. Let her take some responsibilities around the house, in the kitchen, the garden and so on. Make sure that she has fully developed self-help skills. Teach her how to use gadgets safely. Give her clear instructions about not talking to strangers. If she has an interest in music or painting, provide the opportunities for her to develop skills in them.

A.  I would suggest that the girl of 12 is assessed again. Sometimes there are errors and having her abilities tested again, could be useful. Since your observation is that she has improved, it is possible that she might get a higher IQ score. In that case she may continue in the regular school. But as the lessons become more complex and therefore harder, she will be better off in a setting that helps her to do her best without making her feel inadequate. Please note that Special schools are not damaging to children with special needs. If she does well in that place, there is a possibility of her taking up a vocation at a later time. She may be weak in spelling or Maths, but she will have strengths, which should be encouraged. There is no research evidence that the father's intake of alcohol has any connection with the fetal alcohol syndrome or any aspect of the infant's health. You can help her by being affectionate, firm and kind. Listen to her view of things and ask her opinion on some small decisions. Give her stimulating mental exercises, in the form of games and puzzles, at her level. Be patient when she learns. Reward her with a smile or a pat when she completes something. Let her take some responsibilities around the house, in the kitchen, the garden and so on. Make sure that she has fully developed self-help skills. Teach her how to use gadgets safely. Give her clear instructions about not talking to strangers. If she has an interest in music or painting, provide the opportunities for her to develop skills in them.

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