Dear Dr. Courtright,
I recently had my daughter tested for A.D.D., and it turns out she is off the charts on the facial and pattern recognition tests. Do you have any suggestions on what we might do to foster the development of these skills? Is there use for these skills in any careers? Any thoughts or suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated.
It is always gratifying and exciting when our children perform well on assessments – and it can be puzzling, too, as one attempts to consider the practical applications and the implications of such results. In response to your particular question about these two subtests, I would offer a couple of observations in reply.
The subtests included in an intellectual test address various factors related to cognition and intelligence. The goal is to measure performance on specific tasks and compare that performance (for example, number of items correctly answered) to other children of the same age. The score the test gives you is a measure of how different your child is (higher- or lower- performing) from other children by comparing to hers the number correct obtained by the average child of the same age. By sampling behaviors on a number and variety of different tasks, it is possible to draw conclusions about the individual’s ability — to process information, to remember, to analyze and to associate — in comparison to other children, and to derive a score that is predictive of school success and indicative of abilities in storing and retrieving information, solving puzzles and problems, thinking logically and reasoning – all of these being cognitive skills that are needed for successful school (and real-world) performance.
You have noted that your daughter’s performance in these two subtests in particular is exceptionally high. That is great news, because it suggests a significantly higher level of intellectual ability than that of her age- and classmates. However, the nature of the test is not to predict or guide vocational or career interests or aptitudes. One might guess that pattern recognition might be an attribute that could lead to being successful as an engineer, or that facial recognition might lead to success in forensics or human resources work, however the truth is that information such as that (that is, vocational or career guidance) is beyond the scope of the test your daughter took. You didn’t offer an indication of your daughter’s age, but unless she is already in college and can access the career guidance office, the thing to do is to continue to permit and encourage her to explore possibilities and interests she has, but without reference to these two very narrow components of the aptitude test. They were not designed to inform decisions about careers, and the fact that she has scored at a high level suggests that what you have been doing in nurturing her is meeting her needs, and the best thing to do is to just continue to offer her the kind of enrichment that feeds her interests will serve her best.
I hope this is helpful information, but if you have additional, follow-up questions, I will do my best to provide you with an answer.
Gifted Education Specialist