Held Hostage By IQ: The Number That’s Stamped in Your Brain


I hear stories quite often from parents regarding frustration over a child not receiving what he or she needs because of the child’s IQ.

I sometimes think that we have the notion that before being born all of us are lined up in heaven to receive our IQ scores, which are then planted in our brain. You can almost imagine hearing the announcement from one of God’s helpers, “If you are about to be born, step up so that God can stamp a number in your head. You will carry this number around with you wherever you go on earth. Line up everyone. Get your IQ scores!”

Then as the line proceeds, you would hear something like, “Okay, let’s see, this one will get a 92 – sorry that’s the lower portion of the average range… The 32close nd percentile… No one will help you even if your reading is weak. Wait, this one over here gets a 103 – well, maybe you’ll get help if you need it. You might have enough points. We’ll see how bad your reading is though. If the reading is not bad enough, forget about it. Uh, oh, here comes a tough one – an 83. Whoops, sorry, that’s the 13th percentile. Not likely to be much help for you. You will need a bigger discrepancy – hard to find one with an 83. ”

Fast forward to your time on earth. You are a child struggling in school. You don’t read very well. Homework is a painful, laborious chore. Your parents are irritable with you all the time. In short, you need help. What happens if you have one of those unfortunate numbers stamped in your head? Essentially this is what a parent is told: “We’re sorry, but state regulations are such that there has to be this very large discrepancy between the number that’s stamped in your child’s brain and the number we calculate to be the reading score. Otherwise you are just out of luck. Next case.”

In other words, a child is being held hostage to his/her IQ.

I see this all the time. It’s unfortunate and parents are simply given the wrong message.

Reading/learning problems are not a score. Struggling is struggling, no matter what label or number is given to it. If a child is struggling in the fundamental, core areas of reading, spelling and writing, he needs help and support, regardless of what mythical number is stamped in his brain.

Adapted from “School Struggles” Richard Selznick, Ph.D. (Sentient Publications 2012)

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