Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14

Posted by: viktor877

Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 01/24/20 05:16 PM

Hi, this is my first post here, I am making it as I am still searching for answers regarding my drop in IQ. I am currently 16 years old, and in a very tricky situation with school, which I'm trying to solve, and I think that knowing whether my drop in IQ is indicatory of a drop in actual ability, or whether I'm still gifted would help.

Before starting elementary school, between the ages of 5.5 and 6, I was tested to determine my eligibility for a gifted program, presumably with the WPPSI-III. I am quite confident that it was in fact an IQ test, as it was individually administered, and I remember some of the object assembly items. My mother recalls the score obtained as being in the 140s, but I believe that the cutoff for the gifted program was around 130, so even if her memory is faulty, I know that my score has dropped significantly.

In elementary school, I usually tested well on the achievement tests, especially reading comprehension, consistently scoring several years above grade level, yet I still had some trouble with math. It's my weakest subject, but I still tested okay in it during elementary school. As for my experience in elementary school, I was miserable most of the time. I was bored, most of my time was spent watching the clock to see when I could go home. I refused to do homework, and even once put it through a document shredder.

In 6th grade, I didn't get along with my teacher, so that was the worst year I had in elementary school. It was also the year where they did testing to determine eligibility for the gifted program in middle school. They switched from using individually administered tests to using the CogAT, which I didn't perform great on. I did okay verbally, but my NV scores were around average.

After that, I ended up missing a lot of middle school. I believe a lot of it was due to my delayed sleep phase syndrome, which wasn't diagnosed until recently. I missed over 300 school days in middle school.

In 2018, I was seeing a psychologist about some family issues, and about my struggles with school attendance. They never diagnosed my delayed sleep phase syndrome, but they did diagnose ASD, and they put me on a SSRI, which killed my appetite, causing me to lose a lot of weight. They tested me with the WISC around that time, determining me to be a "slow learner". I don't know if my weight loss and inability to eat around that time lowered the score, but I just thought that it was a factor that I should mention. The test was also in the morning, so I was pretty tired due to my sleep disorder, but again, I don't know if it could have caused that significant of a drop.

On the WISC, I obtained a slightly above average verbal score, but a very low processing speed score, in the 70s, and low average scores on the other performance indices. The FSIQ was in the 90s.

I did okay in High School when I was attending consistently, I got A's in all classes, but I was pretty bored, got sick, and then my sleep got off, which caused me to once again stop attending, causing me to fail classes. My high school GPA was 1.3. I didn't enroll for the 2019-2020 school year, as my school counselor reccomended going the GED route, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to do it, because of the math.

I originally wanted to go to college to study Molecular Biology, and I still do to an extent, but at this point I simply feel that it isn't realistic, so I'm planning to pursue a career in either retail, or food service.

What do you think caused my drop in IQ? I guess maybe I was precocious at first, and that inflated my first score, but as I got older, my below-average cognitive abilities became apparent? I'm wondering if my hatred toward school in Elementary school was due to me being placed into a gifted class while possessing below-average intelligence.
Posted by: puffin

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 01/27/20 12:07 PM

AEH will have better info but although IQs can be unstable when young it is more likely in my opinion your health issues, ASD and maybe another undiagnosed learning disability have caused problems. If you can get an A in a high school class if you try (assuming an academic class) then 90 is probably not an accurate score. Did they do a gai?
Posted by: viktor877

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 01/27/20 12:27 PM

Originally Posted By: puffin
AEH will have better info but although IQs can be unstable when young it is more likely in my opinion your health issues, ASD and maybe another undiagnosed learning disability have caused problems. If you can get an A in a high school class if you try (assuming an academic class) then 90 is probably not an accurate score. Did they do a gai?

It was high 90s, I don't think they did a GAI, but I estimated that it'd be slightly higher than the FSIQ, maybe by a few points with the lowest index score taken out (the PSI).

The high school I went to wasn't a "rigorous" high school, it was a public high school in a not so nice neighborhood, so I think they were lenient with grading. I had a shortened schedule in the term where I got all A's, with 4 classes, all "academic", but I slept through a lot of class time, due to the sleep disorder.
Posted by: viktor877

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 01/27/20 12:31 PM

I did suspect NVLD, but that doesn't seem too likely, as I don't really have trouble with physical coordination (PE was my favorite subject in Elementary school), and when I was younger, I would initiate projects that require spatial ability. I think when I was 8, I took up an interest in electrical system design, and initiated a project to run electricity to our detached garage. I did most of the planning, and I worked with my dad to install it. I also planned and built a 1500 gallon pond and filtration system a few years ago.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 01/27/20 01:34 PM


I'm sorry you've had such a difficult path through school, and with regard to your health. Before I get into the question of your formal testing, I do want to encourage you to keep a positive outlook on your future options. Although it may feel like you are irredeemably behind academically at this moment, you are not. Plenty of people go back to school much later in life than you are now to study all kinds of subjects, including topics even more complex than molecular biology. (I met someone once who started college in her late 70s, finishing her bachelor's degree in her 80s.)

With regard to your formal testing scores, there are a few factors to consider, on both the early testing and the recent testing. For the early testing, it is true that testing at about 5 years old cannot be considered extremely stable--but it also doesn't typically drop by 40-50 points, as you appear to be reporting. So even if it was slightly higher than your lifetime IQ would be projected to be, it probably wasn't completely out of the ballpark. I think we can safely say that the early measure established that you were notably above average in cognition, on the skills assessed, even if the extent is a bit vague.

The recent testing is also subject to some caveats. You report that you were not sleeping well, on a psychotropic, dealing with mental health issues, and disengaged from your education. All of these are factors that can affect the validity of assessment, especially of cognition, generally in the direction of lowered estimates. So generally, it should be taken with a grain of salt. Also, the newer WISC weights verbal and nonverbal tasks a bit differently than the old WPPSI did, with a bit more verbal on the old WPPSI than on the new WISC. So someone with a skewed profile like yours might see more of an impact on the FSIQ than someone with a more balanced profile would.

But I do see some patterns in your historical record of testing that are worth considering. Your history of group and individual testing is consistently higher in verbal areas, and weaker in nonverbal domains, which can be characteristic of certain types of learning differences. At the least, they suggest that you are likely to be most successful in areas that value verbal thinking and problem solving, rather than spatial (sometimes mathematical) thinking. Your testing profile appears to be average in math-related cognition and achievement, and above average in language-related cognition and achievement. That does not rule out molecular biology, by the way, as biology is not nearly as visual spatial a STEM field as, say, physics or mechanical engineering. It's harder to say whether the low processing speed score is meaningful, as that and working memory are the two cognitive domains assessed on the WISC that are the most likely to be affected by the interfering factors we've already listed. Functionally, of course, it had significance at the time, in terms of how efficiently you were able to produce volumes of work on demand. I don't know if that continues to be the case, or if conditions have changed.

Your negative elementary school experience could have been owing to any number of factors, including an unidentified learning disability (even in the context of above average intelligence). Actually, the 2e (twice exceptional) profile often feels the struggle even more than an evenly-developed slower learner, as the gap between your highest strengths and your lowest vulnerabilities is even more frustrating than just finding school generally a little bit more work. And GT programs tend to treat all gifted students as being globally moderately gifted, rather than being as diverse (or more) a population as the middle 68% are. Consider that you appear to have been underplaced in your language arts instruction, but either on-level or overplaced in your math instruction. Then you had about a half-dozen years of limited access to instruction, due to your attendance and social-emotional concerns, which would impact your acquisition of skills across the board. (BTW, even though the WISC is supposed to be a measure of ability, and not acquired skills, it unavoidably is affected by acquired skills--and hence access to instruction--as we use some acquired skills as proxies for native ability.)

In summary, the drop in assessed ability likely resulted from multiple factors, including lower score stability in young children, and interfering factors in early adolescence. You are still a capable young person with many possible good outcomes before you, and every right to pursue whatever healthy dreams you have.
Posted by: viktor877

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 01/27/20 01:47 PM

Thank you, hopefully I'd be decent enough at spatial reasoning to be successful in molecular biology research.

I scored decently on the end of year math achievement tests, though, but they did timed math tests in first grade, and that's when I started disliking math. I also refused to wear glasses through elementary school, maybe due to sensory issues, despite having a decently strong prescription for high myopia, and that may have interfered with my ability to learn math, or to even perform optimally on computer-based tests. I think at the end of 6th grade, they did an out of level math achievement test normed against 7th/8th graders, and I think I scored around the 80th percentile.

I made a post regarding projects that I've worked on which may have required spatial ability, but I don't think it has been approved yet.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 01/27/20 02:04 PM


You've received a great response above.

It is possible that stress and/or meds may have had an impact, lowering IQ. Assessments and tests are a snapshot in time; results may vary, and your IQ, if measured today, may be higher than the results you reference. Research studies may be of interest and several can be found summarized online.

A few links which may be of interest:
3) Hoagies Gifted Education Page, including why IQ test sores vary, and Level of Giftedness
4) video: Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses
5) book: Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses
6) Davidson Gifted Database, including
7) wrightslaw, including
8), including

If you want to brush up on math skills, consider taking a look at Khan Academy.

When deciding whether to study Molecular Biology, you may want to make lists of tuition, housing, and other costs you're likely to incur, as well as possible uses of that degree for your future.
- college websites, and summaries of information including niche
- US Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS)

Once you get started researching online, you will quickly filter information, finding what is of interest to you, and what is not.
Posted by: Appleton

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 01/27/20 02:24 PM

I'm not an expert in IQ or testing, but wanted to encourage you to not give up on yourself. You write more coherently than many people I see on the internet and I suspect you are more than capable of success in college. If your grades or other circumstances are such that you would find attending a four year university difficult, community college is always an option, either full or part-time. Taking the basics may help you decide on a career. Try not to worry about IQ, or the past, which is something you have little control over.
Posted by: ChasingTwo

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 01/31/20 12:09 PM

If you wrote your post independently, I strongly suspect your IQ is above the 90s.
Posted by: viktor877

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 01/31/20 02:11 PM

Originally Posted By: ChasingTwo
If you wrote your post independently, I strongly suspect your IQ is above the 90s.

I did write it independently, and I scored higher than that on the VCI.

I wrote two other replies, but they haven't been approved.
Posted by: viktor877

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 01/31/20 02:30 PM

Anyway, it appears that posts that I'm making are showing up now, so I'll re-write what I tried to post earlier.

I have thought that I could have NVLD, but when I was younger, I used to initiate projects for mental stimulation, most of which required at least some degree of NV ability. Like when I was 8 or so, I planned / designed an electrical system for a detached garage, using the guidelines that I had read in books, and then I worked with my dad to install it, and now our detached garage has power when it used to not. Also, when I was 10-12, I planned and built a 1,500ish gallon fish pond, but the pond took a while to complete, and I had to make some revisions to the design of the filtration system. I'm not sure if the need to revise my design for a filtration system was due to NVLD, or just a lack of experience with building pond filtration systems.

My biggest struggle has been with math, by far. They used to do timed math problems in first grade, and I disliked math after that, as the time limit stressed me out. I usually did okay on the end of year math tests, at the end of 6th grade, I scored above the 80th percentile on an out of level math assessment normed on 7th/8th graders. I did worse on assignments, as I had trouble solving problems using the particular steps that were supposed to be used. I refused to wear glasses in Elementary school, despite having a strong prescription for myopia, and that made it hard to follow what was being taught. I think that for multiple-choice tests, I would use my own heuristic methods for solving problems, and that would allow me to score well, but that wasn't sufficient for assignments, which required the "correct" steps to be demonstrated sequentially to get to the solution. Using a purely heuristic approach would leave me unable to demonstrate the "correct" steps to find the answer, even if the answer was right, unless I was able to work backwards from the answer, which I couldn't always do.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 01/31/20 04:21 PM

The cognitive profile you post could be construed as consistent with NVLD--but it's important to remember that NVLD does not represent a clear consensus or DSM-established diagnosis. It's more like a useful construct for discussing a collection of learning profiles. Some people with your apparent test profile have social vulnerabilities, and others don't. The functional manifestation of the cognitive profile does tend to be coincident with relative weaknesses in math--but not always all specific areas of math (usually geometry more than algebra). And those with strong fluid reasoning separate from visual spatial skills can find other approaches to success in math.

There are also other possible interpretations of the data you've presented, which we've already established have limitations. For example, you mention being stressed by timed math problems, having a strong visual prescription for corrective lenses, and very low visual-motor processing speed. All of these could be suggestive of, among the possibilities, weaknesses in one or more of: visual spatial processing, visual acuity, visual convergence/divergence, or fine-motor coordination (ocular or hand).

In order to tease apart the various possible factors that could be affecting your past and present educational experience, and to accurately inform your future planning, it may be that a more comprehensive evaluation (preferably when you're in a relatively stable moment in your life, so that some of the factors that interfere with test validity that we've discussed before are minimized) would help you understand yourself better. Although you were tested under two years ago, you are old enough for the WAIS-IV now, so you could be re-tested with a good cognitive instrument if need be.

I'd probably start by getting a better handle on your vision and fine-motor skills though, including not only your straightforward acuity, but other aspects of visual processing, such as those assessed in an occupational therapy evaluation and by a developmental optometrist (especially convergence/divergence and visual tracking). These would be conversations to have with your parents/guardian, guidance counselor and your primary care physician. Your health insurance may cover the cost of at least one of those evaluations. (And even if your parent/guardian does not have insurance, and doesn't qualify for state aid, you personally may qualify for state-subsidized health insurance under SCHIP, since you are still a minor.)

Again, your data and your writing both present as that of a very capable young person. You have a lot to offer, and a tremendous opportunity to turn the struggles you've lived through up until now into compassion for others. It takes inward strength to move forward through adversity, and to see not closed doors, but new ones opening. I see the evidence of that strength lurking in you, as you so clearly are here looking for solutions and new possibilities in your future path.
Posted by: viktor877

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 01/31/20 04:38 PM

I wear contact lenses now, and I can perform okay on fine motor tasks, I'm good at soldering.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 01/31/20 07:30 PM

That's good to hear. I'm still curious about tracking and convergence, though. And maybe fine-motor speed, as separate from dexterity. Being good at soldering is also not incompatible with certain specific fine-motor weaknesses, and certainly doesn't address the question of fine-motor speed, since there are no bonus points for soldering more quickly. (E.g., one of my siblings was slow to develop fluent handwriting, but took to soldering and electronics in general rather easily, and also is very good at removing splinters!) If you don't have evaluations in these areas, though, it won't ruin your life or anything. It's just another piece of information.

From a practical standpoint, I actually don't think you need to focus too much on these past test results. They document that you have strengths in learning ability--which you already know from the most productive parts of your educational history--and that you've had challenges in the past, many of which were not academic in origin. That's enough to say that you should feel free to pursue any educational and career path now that comports with your interests, life goals and personal values, while working on making healthy life choices for growth as a whole person.
Posted by: viktor877

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 01/31/20 10:23 PM

I can still type fairly quickly, but if I try to go too fast, I end up sacrificing accuracy for speed.
My result from a typing test I just did:

I just wonder how much I really "regressed" IQ-wise.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 02/01/20 12:07 PM

If you want the short answer: don't know, and it's impossible to quantify with the existing data sets.

As I've explained in my longer responses above, there are too many factors that could have been interfering with your formal test performance at the time of your second set of results to determine how much of that was regression to the mean from your very early (and consequently also lower reliability) testing, and how much was the interfering factors. Whatever your "true" numbers might look like, you're clearly intelligent enough to do whatever you have opportunity to do and commit to.

Your IRL performance data are more important anyway. Do what you can do to get yourself to an emotionally and physically healthy place, and then pursue whatever field of study floats your boat, keeping an open mind about natural changes in your interests that may occur along the way.

All the best.
Posted by: viktor877

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 02/25/20 09:32 AM

It turns out that I wasn't tested on the WPPSI like I had thought, I was tested on the KBIT-2. All I was able to obtain was the letter with the percentile ranks, I scored above the 99th percentile verbally, but only in the 79th percentile for NV. Is it likely that I am still currently 2E, or just "bright" along with a few disabilities?
Posted by: aeh

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 02/25/20 12:25 PM

This data is essentially compatible with our prior discussion. It establishes that your personal and normative strengths in language-related domains were evident early on, and validates the achievement pattern you've observed on standardized testing since.

A few notes on the KBIT-2: This is more of a screening instrument than a comprehensive assessment of cognition, consisting, as it does, of two motor-free subtests. This also means that processing speed is much less of a factor, both because it is untimed, and because you don't have to manage any materials. It does imply a little bit less score stability even than we were already assuming, as now we are dealing with not only an assessment of a very young child, but also an assessment using a screening instrument. But that it has the same profile you've consistently had throughout your education suggests that it does have some validity.

In summary, this recent clarification of your early testing results doesn't significantly change our overall interpretation, which is that you are above average in verbal cognition, and at least average in nonverbal/visual spatial thinking, with verbal reasoning likely well above average. The distinction between 2e and bright/LD (which I don't think we can definitively make based on your existing data) is less important than most people think, in terms of your experience of and options for life.

My advice remains the same: work on your overall health, and then do what you love.
Posted by: pinewood1

Re: Large drop in IQ between 5 and 14 - 02/26/20 09:20 AM

The map is not the territory.

Human concepts, like "gifted" and the various levels thereof, and various disability labels, are attempts to categorize the wide variation that exists to make more sense out of it. The boundaries of a naturalistic concept are not going to be sharp and clear. The question is what categorizations are useful to make.

At this point, it doesn't really seem to make a difference which side of the "gifted" line you fall on (different people will draw that line differently, anyway). I understand the curiosity, but there is no One Real Answer Out There to find.