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IQ can be misleading.

Students with autism who have normal or high intelligence still face significant challenges.

Their IQ leads teachers and others to make assumptions about their ability to function in the classroom, at home or in the community.

However, intelligence or cognitive function is not a good predictor of how autistic students will cope with basic daily skills and tasks such as dressing, managing their school work, coping with sport, whole class activities, catching the bus, having resilience or managing failure.

New research tells us we need to stop using 'high functioning' as a term to describe autistic children and adults who do not have intellectual disabilities.

In a recent study of over 2000 individuals in Western Australia, researchers found that on average, autistic children with no intellectual disability have functional scores 28 points below their IQ. By contrast, children with intellectual disability have functional scores only 4.5 points below their IQ, on average.

This means that despite being capable of achieving academically,  they need significant additional support to manage day to day tasks, organise themselves and understand the social challenges of classrooms and schools.  There are many successful strategies that can help.


The Australian research is to be published in the latest issue of the journal Autism, but is available online. Avares et al. (2019) The misnomer of ‘high functioning autism’: Intelligence is an imprecise predictor of functional abilities at diagnosis.  Autism.  First published online 18 June 2019



In order for their autistic students to be successful and resilient, schools and teachers need to understand how their autism affects the way that autistic students think, communicate, socialise and negotiate the sensory challenges of classrooms and schools.

Our online course gives teachers the opportunity to observe the students they work with and the clues to understand their strengths and challenges and provide strategies to support them.

Teachers can access the course - which has evidence-based resources developed over 20 years -  in their own time, at their own pace as an individual, a team around a student or as a whole school initiative.    Once enrolled, teachers and teams can continue to access the material for as long as they need it. 


Join a course today.