ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Insight on Herbals Eludes Doctors, Patients Alike
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Majority of College Students Report Backpack-Related Pain
Hip Replacement Boosts Mobility at Any Age
CANCER
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
HPV Vaccine Has Higher Allergic Reaction Rate
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
CAREGIVING
Caregiving May Lengthen Life
Simpler Sleep Apnea Treatment Seems Effective, Affordable
Coordination Has Led to Quicker Heart Treatment
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
DIET, NUTRITION
Eat Light - Live Longer
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Fish in U.S. Rivers Tainted With Common Medications
Global Warming Biggest Health Threat of 21st Century, Experts Say
Common Pesticide Tied to Development Delays in Kids
EYE CARE, VISION
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Clues Found to Brain Mechanism Behind Migraines
FITNESS
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Autumn Chores Often Hazardous
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
Coconut Oil May Help Fight Childhood Pneumonia
MEN'S HEALTH
Countdown to Hair Loss
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
Add your Article

Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism

FRIDAY, June 19 (HealthDay News) -- The most commonly used test to measure intelligence is underestimating the intellectual potential of autistic people, new research suggests.

People with autism often struggle with the verbal portions of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, the test most often used to measure IQ, researchers said.

But when given another test of abstract reasoning abilities, the Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices, autistic people not only had scores equal to those of their non-autistic counterparts, but they answered the questions, on average, as much as 42 percent more quickly.

On the Raven's test, autistic participants scored, on average, 30 percentage points higher than would have been predicted by their scores on the Wechsler scale, according to the study, in the June issue of Human Brain Mapping.

Also, MRIs done during the testing showed that autistic people had more activity in different areas of their brains than those without autism.

"While both groups performed Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices (RSPM) test with equal accuracy, the autistic group responded more quickly and appeared to use perceptual regions of the brain to accelerate problem solving," said Isabelle Soulieres, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University and the study's lead author. "Some critics argued that autistics would be unable to complete the RSPM because of its complexity, yet our study shows autistics complete it as efficiently and have a more highly developed perception than non-autistics."

The researchers said the findings have implications for the way in which autistic children are educated.

"When we do the Wechsler test, which is the one that is done in clinical settings, there is a big chance that we underestimate the education potential of autistics," Soulieres said. "If you underestimate someone's potential, you will have less hope and you will lower your goals for this person. We should make the bet they are more intelligent than they show us on the Wechsler test."

For the study, 15 autistic people ages 14 to 36 were matched with 18 people without autism. Based on their preliminary results on the Wechsler test, all participants had an IQ between 81 and 131, or generally between the low and high end of the normal range.

Each participant was then given the Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices, a 60-item test of abstract reasoning ability. The questions, which are highly visual in nature, ask participants to identify the next sequence of a larger pattern or the missing segment of complex geometric shapes.

During the test, MRIs indicated that people with autism showed more activity in the left cuneus, a region of the brain's occipital cortex thought to be involved with updating working memory and making comparisons among visual images, according to the study.

Compared with people without autism, autistic people showed less activity in areas of the prefrontal cortex of the brain that are thought to be involved in manipulation and integration of information in working memory, managing difficult tasks and evaluating the correctness of responses.

When it came to their answers, those with and without autism who scored the same on the Wechsler test also had similar scores on the Raven's test. But those with autism answered figural questions 23 percent more quickly and analytic questions 42 percent more quickly.

"This study bolsters our previous findings and should help educators capitalize on the intellectual abilities of autistics," said senior researcher Dr. Laurent Mottron, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal. "The limits of autistics should constantly be pushed, and their educational materials should never be simplified."

Autism is marked by repetitive behaviors, problems with verbal or non-verbal communication and social difficulties. Because the condition has a wide range of symptoms and degrees of severity, autism is now often referred to as autism spectrum disorders, said Brenda Smith Myles, chief of programs for the Autism Society of America.

Previously, many experts believed that as many as 70 percent of people with autism also had cognitive and other learning disabilities. But recently, researchers have been finding that perhaps only half do, Myles said.

Studies such as this one show that people with autism are able to problem solve and that visual learning might be more helpful than auditory or language-based learning.

Still, she said, there's a need for more studies to assess how best to put such knowledge into practice in the real world to help autistic people succeed in school and employment.

"What we need are more studies that take this information and apply it in a classroom or community setting," Myles said. "This does not tell us what a child will do in a third-grade classroom or what an adult will do in a workplace."

SOURCES: Isabelle Soulieres, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow, Harvard University, Boston; Laurent Mottron, M.D., Ph.D., professor, psychiatry, University of Montreal; Brenda Smith Myles, Ph.D., chief of programs, Autism Society of America; June 2009, Human Brain Mapping