Health & Fitness

Impaired speech and intelligence in children


QUESTION: Do children with impaired speech have lesser intelligence than the rest?


If I was to ask you to say what the following people have in common, it is possible you would say that they are all great leaders of their time, and in this regard, you would be right.

Moses of the Bible, Winston Churchill, Joe Biden and even Sir Isaac Newton all had/have, a speech defect of one sort or another and yet, all are better known for their great achievements in life, rather than the fact of speech difficulties.

The answer to your question is simply that there are some people with speech difficulties who have intelligence that is above, others average and others below normal.

In this respect, they are exactly like the rest of the population, in which intelligence is distributed in what is called a bell curve, which simply means that when formally measured in the population, intelligence is found to be vey high in a small number of persons, very low in another small number of persons, with the majority of the people lying somewhere in the middle with a range of IQ between 85 to 115. On this type of scale, the average IQ is said to be 100.

If life was as simple as that, then experts would have a very easy time because all they would need to do to predict who would and who would not succeed in life, would be to measure the IQ and they would state the rate of success to be expected.

Many studies have shown that there is no direct link between a high IQ and what is generally said to be success in life, and indeed one old study looked at a highly intelligent group of people and found that many had failed to make it in life.

To understand this seeming anomaly, one has to understand what intelligence as measured in tests really means, and why this measure alone cannot be used to predict life in the real world where we all live.

One of the ways humans are different from the apes with whom they share up to 98 percent of their genetic makeup is regarding their ability to reason, make judgments, and in a nutshell, they have greater brain power or intelligence. For this reason and compared to other animals, men are said to be clever, astute, smart, and in some cases can be said to achieve the state of a genius.

It is, however, as most will already know, not enough to have a high IQ, and that EQ or Emotional Intelligence is now considered as if not more important in life here on earth.

EQ refers not to the ability to score high on the IQ tests, but more on ones’ ability to perceive and understand the emotional cues that are surrounding him. Beyond that, EQ demands that one is able to manage and handle the emotional cues, and critically to understand how these emotions might affect those around him.

If for example, a person goes to the office after a big fight with their spouse about infidelity over the weekend, a person with a low EQ will fail to link the extreme irritation with all members of the staff who seem to cross his/her path on that day while a person with a high EQ will already be aware that his/her feelings of anger and frustration might be the reason for shouting at a colleague in a manner that is out of his/her character.

People with high EQ can self-regulate due to their heightened self-awareness. These are the type of people said to have good social skills.

As must be clear to you by now, the people who will have the greatest chances of not only understanding the environment in which they live but are also able to manipulate it to their advantage would need to be gifted in IQ and EQ. One without the other does not give one the requisite skills for survival on this earth.

One of the commonest and in my earlier days irritating questions was why the most intelligent boys in our school, the ones who always came first in national exams seemed to end up social misfits of one sort or another.

The simple answer is that they might have had a high IQ with a low EQ which as we have seen is what enables one to navigate this thing called life on earth, where one might be forced to live knowing that the boss is the boss even if he does not seem very clever.

It is the same skill that enables one to identify, which battles are worth fighting and those that are best left alone. As you can see, speech ability or otherwise sometimes affects some of these aspects of life and at other times it does not.