Does being smarter make you happier? Not necessarily, says Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou, a child neurologist and clinician scientist in the Autism Research Centre at Holland Bloorview.
In the general population intelligence predicts school success, which correlates with “getting a university degree and money, our two obsessions,” Dr. Anagnostou says. “But IQ doesn’t predict how good life is, the quality of your life, or life satisfaction.”
And this is particularly true among people with autism, she says. “Parents are really focused when their child is diagnosed on figuring out the child’s IQ, because of the assumption that kids with autism and high IQs are doing better. And while they do have the potential to integrate better or easier or with less intervention, it’s a potential. In practice, there are many issues that make that original assumption wrong."
On the other hand, youth with autism and mild intellectual disability often “do very well,” Dr. Anagnostou says. “With supports they can finish school, learn vocational skills, get a job, and they tend to have less mental-health issues than the high-IQ group. They’re often happier. If you have a university degree and end up in a life-long volunteer position, which is what happens to a lot of young adults with autism and high IQs, the kid who had the lower IQ who has the job and can support himself has a better outcome.”