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Are speech and intelligence linked?

(33 Posts)
glimmer Thu 25-Aug-11 08:03:50

I was asked the above and realized I don't really understand how they go together. I know there is a non-verbal IQ and presumably putting a puzzle together is a nonverbal from of intelligence. Do you need speech for abstract concepts, drama play (as developmental milestone). What's the relation between cognitive speech vs expressive speech in this regard?
Are the any publications/references put on this? Thks.

saintlyjimjams Thu 25-Aug-11 08:25:21

Yes I think you need language for certain abstract concepts but you don't necessarily need a language based on words to understand the world.

My 12 year old non verbal son (with some language but mainly nouns & some verbs) has some difficulty with concepts such as time and bizarrely size (undestanding for example that he can't climb a pkaymobil ladder). But is a frigging genius on google maps (can find places he's been to once 6 years ago for example navigating via the map). His intelligence in that area is streets ahead of mine and his NT brothers say 'woaaah' when they see him.

chickensaresafehere Thu 25-Aug-11 08:42:02

Watching this post with interest.My dd(4.6)is completely non-verbal,with no specific dx as yet.The neuro paed says isolated speech delay.Her understanding & learning varies greatly on many things but has never been formally tested.I feel her speech delay holds her back greatly (obviously)but not sure how it us linked with her degree of understanding IYSWIM.

Becaroooo Thu 25-Aug-11 08:52:45

Dont know.

But Einstein was non verbal til he was 4.

Ds1 was non verbal til 3 but he now (age 8) has the vocab of a teenager and is very bright.

IMO it depends on the cause of the language my sons case it has never been dx.

saintlyjimjams Thu 25-Aug-11 09:15:18

Donna Williams has written quite a bit about language and different types of language. She distinguishes between those who develop language before 5 and this who remain without word language after that time. It's her opinion rather than experimentally tested but a lot of what she sap he says certainly I can see reflected in my son.

Claw3 Thu 25-Aug-11 09:55:38

I would say not always.

My ds for lots of his SALT he scores on 0.04 centile, 1 centile etc, etc, far below average on his scores. His vocab is about 4 years behind. His speech is delayed etc, etc.

Spatial relations he scores 99th centile
Visual closure he scores 99th centile
non verbal reasoning 99th centile
Cog ability 98th centile (this places him in the top 2% of the population for IQ)
Reading comprehension age 10.4 (when he was 6.5 years old)

However he cannot dress himself, he cannot eat, he cannot use the toilet, he struggles socially, he cannot ride a bike, his handwriting is terrrible, he self harms etc, etc.

So children can have an high IQ, but have great difficulty in other areas.

sickofsocalledexperts Thu 25-Aug-11 10:04:06

My impression is that they have identified the speech areas of the brain (receptive and expressive, and even a different one for singing) but I think there are various areas governing IQ. I think they are probably two different things, but our measures of intelligence are so speech-based. Also, of course, there are different kinds of intelligence - so you have the classic computer geek/aspergers genius, who can't relate to people properly due to lack of emotional intelligence but can design a computer to save the world! Very interested to hear more about this if anyone is a brain expert. The Professor we saw for my boy's autism said that the best predictors of good outcome in autism were normal ("useful") speech by 5 and a normal IQ, so he clearly saw those as two separate things.

bdaonion Thu 25-Aug-11 10:10:06

I would say not too. DD (5.2) has specific language impairment. Her non-verbal abilities were tested by the Paed at 3.6 and the EP at 4.6. Each time she achieved above average scores. She often surprises me with the things she demonstrates she knows but obviously she struggles to find the words to describe them. Given her challenges with language she keeps up with her schoolwork amazingly well.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 25-Aug-11 10:18:06

nope, but with speech you can let people know how intelligent you are more easily!

WilsonFrickett Thu 25-Aug-11 14:16:29

I think Star and Sickof have it spot on - we measure so much of intelligence through speech that they have become synomous (sp?).

My DS was originally thought of as some kind of maths genius (blardy Dustin Hoffman has got a lot to answer for) but got totally derailed towards the middle of the year when they moved onto sums, because he couldn't get the concept of greater and less. Which I put down to a verbal reasoning issue. Having said that, his verbal reasoning is off the chart poor, whereas his vocab is off the chart high. It's all very strange. And interesting when you start to debate these concepts. How much of intelligence is 'emotional' intelligence, how much 'abstract', how much 'retention', how much 'replaying'?

bialystockandbloom Thu 25-Aug-11 14:27:05

Probably not, but I dare someone to start a thread aimed at mothers of early talkers and say so wink

auntevil Thu 25-Aug-11 14:33:19

What is intelligence? Both my dad and DH are academically bright. DH relatively NT (for a male - apologies, but I do feel a lot of men have borderline autistic traits grin ) , dad was a little quirky - but even by todays professionals, would be unlikely to have a dx. Neither have/had common sense. Both could verbally say the most stupid things that make you question whether they were bright at all. DH can build a conservatory, but not follow a recipe for batter.
Starlight - you're right when you say that other people judge intelligence by speech. But who hasn't been fooled by someone that sounds intelligent, but has spoken the biggest amount of inane/irrelevant c**p?

Becaroooo Thu 25-Aug-11 15:24:30

I would agree with star ( as usual!)

However, my son is verbally very fluent, very good vocab and understanding.

The difficulty we have is that he struggles to read and write - which IME is the only way that schools measure intellect...the dc have to be able to write down their ideas and read the ideas of others in order to achieve acdemically.


People are constantly amazed when they realise that he is about 3 years behind his peers sad

signandsmile Thu 25-Aug-11 16:42:46

Can I just throw a spanner in the works and say speech is not the only language... (I know the thread is focused slightly differently and what you are talking about is use of words and concepts) but this really 'presses a button for me' after the EP assessing my ds wrote in his report that he had no language when he was clearly and co-herently signing, when challenged his reply was there was no place on the form to record that, language meant speech.... (tell that to all my Deaf friends! angry)

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 25-Aug-11 16:49:10

My (supposedly) NT DS1 had very delayed speech and is now very very good at Maths at age 13. I don't think he's ever going to excel at debating, but he's by no means unintelligent! I often wonder how well some of the little chatty girls are doing that used to freak me out with their conversation when DS1 could only say 'uh.'

VeraCanSignChocolateAndWine Thu 25-Aug-11 16:49:27

Hmm. Have to say I agree with signandsmile. Speech is not the only language. My dd is intelligent, but she doesn't speak.
But that is not to say she can't communicate.
And it doesn't stop her doing 24 piece jigsaws, signing almost age appropriately, and copying an action she has only seem once. and pretty much everything else a "speaking" child of the same age can do (she's 3.2 btw).

WilsonFrickett Thu 25-Aug-11 16:55:16

Well, exactly - so much of the way people measure 'intelligence' is based around the social norms of communication - reading, writing and speaking. Doesn't mean people who use other methods aren't intelligent, quite the opposite - it means the measurement hasn't caught up with the method. And as usual, the contribution people who don't fit the norm can make is ignored. Just look at all the exam passes on the board today!

Agnesdipesto Thu 25-Aug-11 17:16:37

I think they used to be thought of as linked in that low functioning ASD was the dx given to those who were non verbal and there was an assumption they were less clever. Then lots of non verbal adults with autism starting writing novels etc and they realised that speech was not the only form of communication and actually lots of non verbal adults understand language but choose not to use it. DS has vastly more language than he chooses to share. His social deficit means he does not see the point of talking for the sake of talking or interacting. He gets really cross when we ask him questions to get him to speak, as though he's thinking why are you wasting my time asking these pointless questions?
There are 2 non verbal men touring USA with a film about autism which they have written but they communicate only via written word even with each other.
So now there is an understanding you can be intelligent but non verbal which I think even 10 years ago was not understood.
In terms of NT children my oldest child is 2 years ahead academically but is not a big talker. He is a reader and quite insular. My middle son talked early and never shuts up. His speech is far more expressive and vivid than his older brother, despite being less academic. Even at 7 he is hilarious, a future Paul Merton perhaps? He craves social interaction and needs an audience. He can't stay quiet.
DS3 also spoke early but lost all his functional speech at 2.3. We think he is pretty smart, but he rarely uses his intelligence in a functional useful way, except to figure out how to get his own way. He can be silent for long periods, but speak when he is motivated for something.
I think language is a skill like any other and its a strength for some and not for others but not necessarily linked to IQ.

glimmer Thu 25-Aug-11 17:27:11

Thanks for your replies. It's a very interesting topic - I have never ever gotten so many replies in such a short time after starting a thread :-)

I re-read my post and have to say that it was not very clear. I totally agree that there is non-verbal intelligence, I was just wondering if there are areas where receptive and/or expressive speech are needed (e.g. dramatic play) to get a concept.

DD is speech delayed - definitely expressive, not sure about receptive. She is just not interested in words/language, but can communicate her needs very well and is emotionally very smart.

My mother was wondering if she could 'not develop intelligence' (in the sense of what they test at school, I presumably) without speech and I realized I have no idea. She's very good at puzzles, too.

It seems the SN frequenter here fall into two groups: the ones dealing with ASD/ASP who often have very high 'mathematical' intelligence but not necessarily social intelligence and those dealing with speech (and/or global delay), who often have good social skills. I know I am over-generalizing here, but that seems to see a pattern. And yes, all of the NT people fall somewhere in between but are not all the same.

I thought the comments about singing was very interesting. DD does not fill in words in books, poems etc, but in songs. Will try and do that more.

glimmer Thu 25-Aug-11 17:30:12

Presumably there is a difference between 'having words' but choosing not to use them (but e.g. being able to write), and those who don't have any words in the first place.??

WilsonFrickett Thu 25-Aug-11 17:44:45

DS has vastly more language than he chooses to share. His social deficit means he does not see the point of talking for the sake of talking or interacting.

<penny dropping>

madwomanintheattic Thu 25-Aug-11 18:01:57

we were told dd2 was unlikely to be verbal due to her oromotor difficulties. she had an iq of 142 at 5. her speech is still patchy (8 now) and she only started to become an oral communicator around 3/4 - she signed a little previously.

as others have said, it's an issue about how intelligence is measured, rather than capacity per se. so difficult to get a good idea of understanding in someone who is non-verbal (using non-verbal in a really lazy manner to convey unable to communicate, rather than speech per se). lots of kids with cp are presumed to have little understanding (tied in with being able to access the world to learn, as well as effects of isolated brain damage etc) but difficult to know for sure without exhausting every available avenue for communication.

madwomanintheattic Thu 25-Aug-11 18:05:56

didn't really explain myself v well - dd2 was tested because we needed a measure of whether she had a learning disability. (the presumption being that kids with cp have learning disabilities... don't start me on that). but she's in the vs range in most aspects on a standardised test.

but if your speech slurs and you drool, folk think you have a problem with understanding and speak loudly and clearly and slooooowly. and sometimes pat you on the head and say 'bless'. and mouth about what a shame it is. wink

i liked dd2's doc though, who roared with laughter and told her conspirationally 'you're cleverer than me, y'know!'

signandsmile Thu 25-Aug-11 18:38:16

glimmer, if you were referring to my post (and vera's) it was signing, (sign language) not singing... wink. apologies if you were referring to another post. grin

saintlyjimjams Thu 25-Aug-11 19:44:43

glimmer- yes I know what you are saying. I do think you would find Donna Williams stuff on this interesting - I'll look for a link a mo.

For Ds1 the biggest difference congnitively was pre and post imitation. Before the age of 8 he could not imitate. At this stage I don't believe he understood that could do the same as others. Once he learned to imitate he did - he also became much easier to teach as you could say 'do this' and show him something. Before imitation he didn't learn anything at all - zilch- for observation as he had no comprehension at all that he could do the same. It also meant he would see people having a good time, climbing, swimming, dancing and have no understanding that he could join in.

So imitation has been huge for him. but yes I think there are broadly (very broadly) two groups in ASD. Those who have the "tools" to communicate. So they have an understanding of language and they have the ability to talk. But for whatever reason they don't. I wouldn't necessarily say they choose not to - there may be initiation problems for example, but for whatever reason they are not able to use those tools successfully.

Then you have those like DS1. He is very sociable, likes people, very affectionate, enjoys social interaction and seeks it out. He likes to share interests (he's just come to fetch me to show me grandad's old care on google maps and to tell me it's broken) but he has very very limited tools with which to interact. He has no speech at all and massive gaps in language. He uses what he has very well indeed (he'll use pictures, VOCA, PECS, Photos, objects, sign, pointing, vocalising, google maps, You Tube to communicate) but it's limited by his lack of language.

And yes there are definitely concepts that require an understanding of language. Everyone who works with him says he is 'smart' and 'clever' but that does not preclude him from having severe learning disabilities (which he most definitely has). Amazing memory, but without language there is always a limit to your understanding (although you can say 'find me a green car' and he'll put the little google map man down right next to a green car).

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