Intelligence, Play, and Language
A central assumption in this book has been that adaptation is the main focus when considering the psychology of children with handicaps. We turn now to the most human of adaptations, the varied and complex processes that we call intelligence, play, and language. If one wishes, it would be easy to start an argument about the definition of intelligence. Is intelligence a general characteristic of which people have a lot or a little? Is it one or more special abilities or talents? Or is it only what intelligence tests measure? In this chapter, we show that intelligence is all of these and much more.
Like most other general psychological concepts, such as emotions, perception, social behavior, and psychotherapy, intelligence is a very general idea having many facets, levels, and applications. It is true that one can characterize a person's general intelligence with a single number, the IQ score. However, this does not mean that the score completely characterizes the person's thinking. Although the IQ score is a pretty good predictor of children's success in school, it does not do as well in predicting their income and the likelihood that they will have friends. Moreover, the general IQ score does not predict specific delays in academic performance such as those seen in children with learning disabilities who have normal intelligence but who have specific problems in reading or arithmetic. Nor does it account for special talents in music, chess-playing, and mathematics that are found in otherwise normal, or even mentally retarded, people.
Perhaps most important, even when the IQ score predicts academic