Does WISC-IV Underestimate the Intelligence of Autistic Children?

J Autism Dev Disord. 2016 May;46(5):1582-9. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2270-z.


Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) is widely used to estimate autistic intelligence (Joseph in The neuropsychology of autism. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011; Goldstein et al. in Assessment of autism spectrum disorders. Guilford Press, New York, 2008; Mottron in J Autism Dev Disord 34(1):19-27, 2004). However, previous studies suggest that while WISC-III and Raven's Progressive Matrices (RPM) provide similar estimates of non-autistic intelligence, autistic children perform significantly better on RPM (Dawson et al. in Psychol Sci 18(8):657-662, doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01954.x , 2007). The latest WISC version introduces substantial changes in subtests and index scores; thus, we asked whether WISC-IV still underestimates autistic intelligence. Twenty-five autistic and 22 typical children completed WISC-IV and RPM. Autistic children's RPM scores were significantly higher than their WISC-IV FSIQ, but there was no significant difference in typical children. Further, autistic children showed a distinctively uneven WISC-IV index profile, with a "peak" in the new Perceptual Reasoning Index. In spite of major changes, WISC-IV FSIQ continues to underestimate autistic intelligence.

Keywords: Abstract reasoning; Autism; Children; Intelligence; Raven’s progressive matrices; Wechsler scales.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / physiology*
  • Intelligence Tests / standards
  • Male
  • Wechsler Scales / standards*