Developmental Trends: Intelligence at Different Age Levels
What You Might Observe:
- Success on test items that involve early developmental accomplishments (e.g., recognition memory, visual preferences, eye-hand coordination)
- Distractibility and short attention span
- Variability in performance from one assessment to the next
- Performance dependent on examiner’s ability to establish a positive relationship with the infant
- Temperamental differences (e.g., a tendency to be shy or cautious) affect infants’ willingness to interact with the examiner and test materials.
- Compared to full-term infants, infants born prematurely are less physically developed and more easily fatigued and so tend to obtain somewhat lower test scores. However, with good medical care and families’ responsive involvement, many premature infants gradually develop into healthy, intelligent individuals.
- Exposure to drugs or alcohol before birth may adversely affect test performance.
- Create a secure and comfortable examiner-child relationship before beginning an assessment.
- Use results only to identify significant developmental delays requiring immediate intervention; refrain from making long-term predictions about intellectual growth.
- Communicate honestly with parents about their child’s test performance, while also describing the test’s strengths and weaknesses as an assessment tool.
Early Childhood (2–6)
What You Might Observe:
- Success on test items that involve naming objects, stacking blocks, drawing circles and squares, remembering short lists, and following simple directions
- Short attention span, influencing test performance
- Variability in test scores from one occasion to the next
- Significant developmental delays in the early years may indicate mental retardation or other disabilities.
- On average, children from lower-income families perform at lower levels on measures of cognitive development than children from middle-income families; however, enriching preschool experiences can narrow and occasionally eliminate the gap.
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