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Borderline intelligence


Life Coach Adams: Hi. How are you today?

Worried Parent: Hi, Life Coach. I’m good.

LCA: Good. How can I be of help today?

WP: My daughter is not doing well in school.

LPA: You are worried that your daughter is failing in school.{{more}}

WP: Yes.

LCA: When did this start?

WP: It has always been the case.

LCA: How old is she?

WP: 11 years old.

LCA: Is anything different at home or at school – death, migration, relocation, separation, divorce, etc?

WP: No, everything has been great at home and school. Her mother and I are still together and we have a very good relationship. She also has a brother and they get along very well.

LCA: Okay, when was the last time she had a medical check-up, including hearing and vision?

WP: Four months ago; we are living in the US and those check-ups are done yearly.

LCA: So, she’s healthy?

WP: Yes.

LCA: But you think that she is not very smart.

WP: Yes. She’s okay at home, but with school work it’s different.

LCA: She is lagging way behind.

WP: Yes. So, I took her to a doctor, who tested her and said that her intelligence was on the border of being mentally retarded. I was not 100 per cent sure about what he was saying, but I felt too embarrassed so I didn’t ask.

LCA: You felt ashamed that your child was not considered to be smart.

WP: Yes. I also felt like he was blaming me for her condition.

LCA: You felt judged.

WP: Yes. What did he mean? Is this my fault? Did I do something wrong?

LCA: Most likely the doctor was a clinical psychologist, who administered the WISC-V, which is an intelligence quotient (IQ) test for children. An IQ test measures a person’s intellectual functioning: the ability to think, reason and make decisions on a daily basis.

WP: So, is she sick?

LCA: No. What the doctor wanted you to know was that your daughter’s IQ score fell in the borderline range of intelligence (IQ = 71 – 85). This means that she will learn slower than the average child her age (IQ = 90 – 109), but she is not intellectually disabled (IQ < 70), since her IQ score was above 70. So, she will need a lot of support to be successful in school.

WP: So, what should I do?

LCA: You should inform her school of the results, so that she can be placed in a remedial class with specialist teachers who are able to cater to her needs.

WP: This is so embarrassing, and she will not want to go to school because her friends will tease her!

LCA: I know that this is disappointing for you, her, and the rest of the family, but please try to think in terms of her best interest and not about what other people will think or say.

WP: Okay.

LCA: Remember, she is not foolish – she can learn. She just learns at a slower rate. It’s like some people are naturally skilled at football and some are not, but they can still learn the game – over time.

WP: Okay.

LCA: We all have different skills and abilities. So, be positive about it and she will pattern your attitude.

WP: Alright.

LCA: Also enrich her environment by doing the following:

o Expose her to educational programmes (books and gadgets).

o Hire a specialist tutor to work with her.

o Give her small tangible rewards, such as a candy, when she does well.

o Talk to her teacher about her specific needs (strengths and weaknesses).

o Read a simple story to her every day, then ask her questions about the passage.

o Educate her about everything using simple language; take nothing for granted.

o Spend quality time with her doing fun things.

o Be proud of her and let her know.

o Focus on her whole development and not just on her academics.

o Educate the whole family about her condition/situation.

o Treat her normally, like you do everyone else.

o Get specific recommendations from the psychologist about her learning needs.

WP: So then, you are saying that there is really nothing to worry about, as long as I put certain structures in place.

LCA: That’s correct. Individuals with borderline intelligence are likely to improve with environmental stimulation, family support, and an individualized educational programme.

WP: What about when she grows up? Will she be willing to hold a job and have a family?

LCA: Yes, if she receives the support I just mentioned.

WP: So, what is the cause of this?

LCA: This may be due to genetics, exposure to toxins or diseases, problems during birth (e.g. lack of oxygen), malnutrition, and poor environmental stimulation, just to name a few.

WP: It must be genetics, because none of the other things you mentioned have occurred. Also, there is no one on either side of the family, as far as I know, that has a low IQ.

LCA: This may go back a couple of generations – so, it’s possible.

WP: Ohhhh! I see.

LCA: Still, everything is likely to be fine if you follow the guidelines above.

WP: Okay, Life Coach. Thanks for your help.

LCA: Take care WP, and all the best.

Need help with relationship and other problems? Ask DYNACII’s Life Coach, Dr Adams, a licensed clinical psychologist. Please note that all correspondence to the Life Coach is confidential and the cases presented are modified in order to maintain the anonymity of each writer. Dynamic Action Centre International Inc (DYNACII) is a non-governmental organization, committed to social and spiritual empowerment. For more information on DYNACII please visit: