Whitaker, Simon (2017) Assessing the intellectual ability of asylum seekers. International Journal of Developmental Disabilities. ISSN 2047-3869

The European Union (EU) has seen an increased number of asylum seekers and economic migrants over the past few years. There will be requests to assess some of these individuals to see if they have an intellectual disability (ID). If this is to be done using the current internationally recognised definitions of ID we will need to be confident that the IQ tests we have available are able to accurately measure the IQs of people from developing countries. The literature showing substantial differences in the mean measured IQs of different countries is considered. It is found that, although there are numerous problems with these studies, the overall conclusion that there are substantial differences in mean measured IQ is sound. However, what is not clear is whether there are large differences in true intellectual ability between different countries, how predictive IQ scores are of an individual from a developing country ability to cope, and whether or not an individual’s IQ would increase if they go from a developing country to a developed one. Because of these uncertainties it is suggested that a diagnosis of ID should not be dependent on an IQ cut off point when assessing people from developing countries.

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