Wechsler IQ profiles in diagnosis of high-functioning autism

J Autism Dev Disord. 1996 Aug;26(4):389-406. doi: 10.1007/BF02172825.


A Wechsler Intelligence Scale profile characterized by VIQ < PIQ with lowest subtest score on Comprehension and highest on Block Design has been associated with autism. Recently, this profile has been applied to assess the accuracy of diagnosis in research samples and for differentiating autism from similar disorders in high-functioning individuals. Universality of this profile, however, has not been sufficiently demonstrated. We therefore examined WISC-R and WAIS-R profile characteristics in 81 rigorously diagnosed high-functioning (VIQ and FSIQ > 70) children (n = 45) and adults (n = 36) with autism. Analysis of the profiles in these groups did not reveal the presumed typical VIQ < PIQ pattern. The typical subtest pattern was found, but the magnitude of profile variability was small. We concluded that individuals with autism can demonstrate a wide range of ability levels and patterns on the Wechsler scales, without a single characteristic prototype. Use of IQ score profiles in the diagnosis and differential diagnosis of autism in high-functioning individuals is not considered valid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Concept Formation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Intelligence*
  • Male
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Vocabulary
  • Wechsler Scales / statistics & numerical data*