Autism Spectrum Quotient

Diagnosing ASD’s

By: - Medicine - June 9, 2011
autism spectrum quotient

When doctors refer to a “Autism Spectrum Quotient,” or AQ, they are referring to a survey designed and published by several renowned scientists at a research center in the United Kingdom in 2001. It consists of several dozen questions intended to discover whether adults with normal cognitive skills show common signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder or any similar conditions on the autism spectrum. In recent years, various forms of the Autism Spectrum Quotient have been published for adolescence and children.

An autism spectrum disorder is a disability characterized by problems with social interaction and communication. Symptoms usually appear before age three and may cause delays in many different skills that develop starting in infancy and on through adulthood. Asperger Syndrome is on the Autism Spectrum and is the most similar to Autism, though unlike ASD, people with Asperger’s don’t suffer from a significant delay in speech development.

Participants are given a questionnaire consisting of 50 different questions, each in a multiple-choice format. The subject is allowed to choose how strongly they agree or disagree on a four point scale in response to the statements. Individuals are given points for each of the questions answered “autistically” no matter if it’s just slightly or exceedingly so. Covering five different categories contexts used for determining autism spectrum disorder, the questionnaire makes statements that cover topics such as social skills, communication skills, attention to detail, imagination and attention shifting or ability to tolerate change.

The AQ is commonly used by people to self-diagnose Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism. The test, however, was not intended to be used for self-diagnosis as such and the authors strongly encourage anyone scoring high to see a medical professional before coming to any conclusions.

ASD is something that the medical community is still learning about and as such, this test often finds applications assessing less impactful types of autistic-like traits in medically average people to learn more about ASD.

Autism Spectrum Quotient was made popular by Wired Magazine in December of 2001 when they published it alongside their article “The Geek Syndrome”. Interestingly, early phases of the tests development, the mean score among those in the group set up as a control was 16.4 with women scoring slightly less than men. While 80% of those who were actually diagnosed with ASD had scores of 32 or higher, only 2% of the control group did. Clinically the questionnaire can be used to effectively rule out Asperger syndrome if the subject scores less than 26.

You should certainly not attempt to self-diagnose and treat. If you feel that you might have a medical issue, you should seek medical treatment and consultation.