Assessment tools for intellectual disabilities

Written by mary johnson-gerard, ph.d.
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Assessment tools for intellectual disabilities
Intelligence testing is a process for determining how the brain functions and whether a disability is present. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

The process of defining intellectual disability is complicated and must address intellectual capacity as well as limitations in the ability to perform activities of daily living. Activities of daily living include skills in communication, self-care and being able to successfully function in social and school-related activities. It is common to hear intellectual disability referred to as a cognitive disability or mental retardation. The term "IQ," intelligence quotient, is one way of representing intellectual capacity.

Wechsler for Children

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV) is used to assess the intellectual or cognitive functioning of children between the ages of 6 years to 16 years 11 months. The tool is administered individually and is comprised of sub-tests typically completed within 90 minutes to two hours. The WISC-IV must be administered by professionals trained in the administration, scoring and analysis of the tool and have state certification or a license. The WISC-IV provides a full-scale IQ score, which represents overall cognitive ability, and four index scores including verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, processing speed and working memory.

Wechsler for Adults

The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) is a measure of assessing intelligence in people ages 16 to 89. The WAIS is administered individually. Human intelligence, according to Dr. David Wechsler, is made up of a combination of verbal and performance abilities. The WAIS is commonly used as part of a neuropsychological evaluation to identify the presence of brain dysfunction.

Wechsler Preschool and Primary

The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-III) is administered to children ages 2 years and 6 months to 7 years and 3 months. There is overlap between the ages that the WPPSI-III covers and the ages covered by the WISC IV. The WPPSI provides a full-scale IQ score, a performance IQ score and a score of processing speed.

Stanford Binet

The Binet Intelligence test is the oldest intellectual assessment and was created in France by Alfred Binet. Lewis Terman, a professor at Stanford University, adapted the Binet in 1916 and it became known as the Stanford Binet Intelligence Scales. The purpose of the Stanford Binet is to assess cognitive capacity in people ages 2 to 23. The composite score is the best estimate of intelligence. Others areas assessed include verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and abstract visual reasoning.

Kaufman Test for Children

The Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children-II (K-ABC-II) is a clinical tool for assessing cognitive development. It takes 25 to 55 minutes to administer and is appropriate for ages 3 to 18. The KABC-II imparts information about how children receive and process information and supports the identification of cognitive strengths and weaknesses.

Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Test

The Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test is administered individually to people ages 11 and older. It is designated as a general intelligence test and measures fluid and crystallised intelligence. Fluid intelligence involves the ability to solve problems and reasoning that is not influenced by cultural experience or education. Crystallised intelligence relates to acquired knowledge which is believed to be significantly influenced by cultural experience and education.

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