You may suspect you have Autism Spectrum Disorder 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 Autism Spectrum Disorder 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 Autism. 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 Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Of the various self-administered tests of Autism Spectrum Disorder 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 (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Although the title refers to “Autism Spectrum” it is geared towards identifying adults with Autism, and it has been tested on many adults who have been diagnosed with ASD or high-functioning autism.
The AQ is composed of 50 questions covering:
- Social skills
- Attention switching/tolerance for change
- Attention to detail
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 Autism Spectrum Disorder 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 (Autism Spectrum Disorder) Diagnostic Scale-Revised (RAADS-R)
The RAADS-R consists of 80 questions measuring four critical areas of Autism Spectrum Disorder:
- 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 Autism Spectrum Disorder.
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 Autism Spectrum Disorder and should be part of any assessment for Autism in adults.
The Systematizing Quotient (SQ) Test
Autism Spectrum Disorder is said to involve a drive to analyze and construct systems. People with ASD 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 Autism Spectrum Disorder. Studies have shown that, in fact, people with ASD score significantly higher on the SQ compared to those without Autism. Generally speaking, results from the SQ and EQ tests combined are highly predictive of Autism Spectrum Disorder, as the two tests measure the major dimensions associated with this condition.
There are several advantages to an Adult Autism Assessment. These four self-administered questionnaires are useful measures of Autism Spectrum Disorder and provide starting points for determining if one may have Autism. 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 ASD. 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. Read about the Diagnostic Process for Autism Spectrum Disorder.