• J.R. Reed

Mythbustin: The Reason Your IQ Is Only a Matter of Perception




If you have Asperger’s or some other form of so-called “high functioning autism,” you’ve probably heard that those with Asperger’s are more likely to have higher IQ’s than their neurotypical counterparts.What once was a myth is now looking more like reality.According to numerous studies in various medical and mental health journals, the thought process surrounding Asperger’s and other forms of high functioning autism is changing.


Before, it was generally accepted that there were approximately the same number of people with Asperger’s who had a high IQ were nearly the same as neurotypicals. However, as science progresses, Doctors such as Temple Grandin and others are finding things way too scientific to discuss here that indicate people who are high functioning autistic DO tend to have higher IQ's than their neurotypical counterparts.

That’s myth number 1 that we’re going to bust, and I’ll admit that I was riding the, “Were pretty much all the same,” train for a long time. But you can’t argue with the data the scientific community who has been studying this has come up with. They’re now showing that many high functioning autistics are more likely to have a higher IQ than their neurotypical counterparts.


This is where I’d like to bust Myth number 2.

I have a high IQ. At one point. Before I had a stroke almost 18 years ago, I was in the 98th percentile as far as intelligence among Americans. It was great that my number was so high, but it didn’t mean diddly squat to me, because even with that high IQ, I still managed to not be able to make it in junior college, had a hard time in the job world, couldn’t figure out a lot of things that I felt I should given my intelligence.


In short it depressed me for what I couldn’t do with the gift that I had been given, and that depression has lasted more than ten years. Being told (a lot) that you’ll never live up to your potential doesn’t help the self-esteem either.

So here I am, able to join MENSA if I want to, which I don’t. Why don’t I? I figure I’ll be surrounded by pretentious people who want nothing more than to find a way to look down on you. They would be successful, in their designer suits, while I would show up in jeans, a cardigan sweater and Converse. And my purple goatee. I know it isn’t my type of crowd.

IQ is just a number.

So here I sit, supposedly one of the smartest people in the United States, only I know very little about anything, probably because my brain is wired differently and I earn in a way that most people don’t.

On the flip side, you have people with much lower IQ's who have gone onto become successful doctors, lawyers and many other professions that require them to spend years learning, studying, and honing their craft. My brain looks at things logically and I keep thinking that if they can do it, why can I.

But the truth is, even though I like to learn new things and soak up new information, I hate school. Last semester I went back to school to try and finish an AA degree that I started in the late 80s, and even though this time I had academic accommodations, since I’d been diagnosed as on the spectrum, it was still a huge chore.

You’re probably asking yourself if there’s a point to this or if I’ve just made you read 576 words for no reason. There is a point and it’s this.

Our IQ is just a number. It’s what we do with that intelligence we’ve been given that shapes who we are. Earlier this year, many years after the stroke, I went through a whole battery of neuro-psychological testing and though my IQ had gone down, I was still in the 95th percentile. Certainly, enough to be able to make a success of myself.

Our work ethic, how we apply ourselves and how hard we’re willing to fight for what we want makes us who we are in life and is a big factor in determining who we become.

My high IQ combined with low self esteem from being told my whole life that I will never live up to my potential often make me wonder why this big number was wasted on me. I had a successful career as a freelance journalist over the span of nearly twenty years. I wrote hundreds of articles for dozens of magazines, including a few that you’ve absolutely heard of, plus a dozen daily newspapers.

Once I got my Asperger’s diagnosis seven years ago, I decided to dedicate my life to writing about autism, mental health, mental illness and disabilities. I became an advocate for my community and my state. I work hard at it, though I do go through bouts of depression that keep me away from my keyboard and off social media to promote the advocacy. That’s still a work in progress, but it’s getting better.

Even though I was recently asked to contribute to The Mighty, where I get huge followings on my pieces, the same can’t be said for my site, notweirdjustautistic.com. Forty-fifty people looking at a piece is on the high end, my email list hasn’t grown in over a year and with social media, I’m basically at the same number of followers I was a year ago.

With my IQ, you would think that I would be able to figure out solutions to these problems, but I can’t. I try and turn to some of my colleagues for advice, but they’re either too busy or when they do answer it’s just vague.

I’m not looking to take over the world, just help a few people and to get a few people to interact. That right there is my biggest problem. I know I’m smart enough that I should be able to figure this out, and when I can’t, I get down on myself and beat myself up over it.

Like the 1999 song by the band Lit, sometimes I am My Own Worst Enemy. I forget that just because I have a high IQ, I don’t know it all and that I have to rely on others for help, something hard for me to do because I feel like I should be able to figure out things on my own.

I keep forgetting that IQ is just a number and that it doesn’t matter a person’s score, sometimes they know more about a certain subject than I do and I have to be open to accepting their help and advice.

Maybe someday I can put my score to good use, but for now I’m going to keep on sharing about my crazy, messed up life in hopes that I can help someone, anyone, with what they’re going through. If I can do that, my work fulfills me, and I feel happy and proud of all that I do.

So, what’s your belief? Am I right? Am I completely off my rocker? Does your IQ determine your place on the human food chain, or is it simply a number showing you what’s possible for your life if things can fall into place?

Share your comments in the section below and let’s start a dialog about this. I’m extremely interested in what you have to say.

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