Four Self-Diagnosing Tests of Asperger’s Syndrome

Several tests help determine if someone has Asperger's Syndrome

Several tests help determine if someone has Asperger’s Syndrome

You may suspect you have Asperger’s Syndrome and wonder how you would know for sure. A professionally administered assessment is the most reliable and accurate way of answering this question. For many people, however, finding an expert in adult Asperger’s is not easy. Even if you do find a professional who can do an evaluation the procedure can be costly and require several office visits.

Fortunately, there are several questionnaires and instruments available online that will help you detect whether or not you have Asperger’s. These are not meant to replace a professional evaluation or substitute for professional help, but they can give you a reasonably valid impression as to the likelihood that you have Asperger’s Syndrome.

Of the various self-administered tests of Asperger’s here are four that I consider the most reliable ones to help you “self-diagnosis” your condition.

Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) Test

Developed at Cambridge University, the AQ is probably the most widely used screening instrument for Asperger’s Syndrome. Although the title refers to “Autism Spectrum” it is geared towards identifying adults with Asperger’s, and it has been tested on many adults who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s or high-functioning autism.

The AQ is composed of 50 questions covering:

  • Social skills
  • Attention switching/tolerance for change
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Imagination

It is short and can be taken quickly. It is self-scoring and has fairly impressive statistics showing good reliability and internal consistency.

Empathy Quotient (EQ) Test

Also developed at Cambridge University, the EQ is designed to measure how well one understands the emotions and actions of others. It also assesses one’s ability to feel an appropriate emotion in response to another person’s emotion. Both of these qualities are central to what Asperger’s is about, that is the ability to recognize, understand and respond to how other people think, their intentions, how they feel and what they desire.

Consisting of 60 questions (a shorter 40 question version is readily available), the EQ can be easily completed and scored, and it has been shown to be acceptably reliable and valid.

Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale-Revised (RAADS-R)

The RAADS-R consists of 80 questions measuring four critical areas of Asperger’s:

  • Language
  • Social relatedness
  • Sensory-motor functioning
  • Narrow, repetitive interests

Like the previous tests, it is a self-report instrument designed for adults with average or above average intelligence. It has been thoroughly researched and studied, and the results indicate a high level of reliability and validity, making the RAADS-R one of the more important screening questionnaires for adult Asperger’s.

The RAADS-R is particularly useful because it takes into account childhood traits and characteristics even if they are no longer present rather than simply focusing on current traits. On the other hand, it is longer than most tests, some of the questions can be confusing and it emphasizes social relatedness more so than the other three areas.

Nevertheless, the RAADS-R is an important test for Asperger’s and should be part of any assessment for Asperger’s in adults.

The Systematizing Quotient (SQ) Test

Asperger’s is said to involve a drive to analyze and construct systems. People with Asperger’s engage in restricted, repetitive behavior, inflexible routines, ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behavior, and they insist on sameness. This can be explained as a need to predict the behavior of things and to control them. Systematizing is the term for this drive.

The Systematizing Quotient is a 60 item questionnaire that measures one’s need to engage in systemizing, the idea being that a high score on systematizing would predict the presence of Asperger’s. Studies have shown that, in fact, people with Asperger’s score significantly higher on the SQ compared to those without Asperger’s. Generally speaking, results from the SQ and EQ tests combined are highly predictive of Asperger’s, as the two tests measure the major dimensions associated with this condition.

Conclusion

These four self-administered questionnaires are useful measures of Asperger’s Syndrome and provide starting points for determining if one may have Asperger’s. Keep in mind they are not, in and of themselves, completely accurate and cannot substitute for an assessment by a professional trained in detecting and diagnosing Asperger’s. However, as screening instruments to see if it might be worthwhile to investigate a professional diagnosis, they are quite useful and often correlate highly with the results of a professional evaluation.

Dr. Kenneth Roberson is an Asperger’s psychologist in San Francisco with over 30 years of experience. To ask a question or schedule an appointment, please call 415-922-1122.

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