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asperger's syndrome information and features

         

Definition Overlap Procedure Tests Reasons Reactions Spectrum Disclosure
The AQ Test
The EQ Test and The SQ Test
The Ritvo Autism-Asperger's's Diagnostic Scale
The Tilt Test
Future Potential for Blood / Genetic Testing
Brain Scans

The AQ test

Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at Cambridge's Autism Research Centre created the Autism-Spectrum Quotient, or AQ, as a measure of the extent of autistic traits in adults. In the first major trial using the test, the average score in the control group was 16.4. 80% of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher. However, I cannot stress enough that having a score higher than 32 does not necessarily mean that you have Asperger's Syndrome. There are people who score above 32 or who even meet the diagnostic criteria for Asperger's's who report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives. Likewise, there are people with Asperger's Syndrome who score less than 32, but who nonetheless have significant difficulty functioning in their everyday lives.

The AQ test looks superficially at your personality and tells you, in general, people on the autistic spectrum are more likely to have a certain type of personality than people in general. At best it is a signpost, and it has the potential to be a misleading one.

It is also scored in a very simplistic manner... to me it makes a big difference whether or not I merely agree or I strongly agree with a statement, but in the AQ test you get the same number of points regardless. Agree scores the same as strongly agree and disagree scores the same as strongly disagree.

Unremarkably, I scored 46 / 50.

The EQ Test and The SQ Test

Simon Baron-Cohen is also responsible for conceiving the Empathy Quotient, or EQ, and the Systemising Quotient, or SQ.

EQ is a measure of how easily you pick up on other people's feelings and also how strongly you are affected by other people's feelings. On average most women score 47 and most men score 42.

SQ is a measure of how interested you assess yourself to be in various forms of systemising. On average most women score 24 and most men score 30.

In general, people on the autistic spectrum are expected to have higher SQ and lower EQ.

I currently score 12 for EQ and 51 for SQ, which is quite extreme. Curiously my EQ score has dropped significantly since I last took this test, but I think that is because what these tests actually look at is how you perceive yourself rather than how you actually are. When I first took this test I may have believed, perhaps erroneously, that I had a better understanding of other people's feelings and points of view than I really did. Since taking the test I have read a lot more about what the majority of people describe as empathy and have become more aware of feelings, ideas, and experiences that other people have that I do not. It may be that now I perceive myself as being worse at understanding other people's thoughts and feelings than I really am.

Autism Research Centre - Tests

The Ritvo Autism-Asperger's's Diagnostic Scale

Another questionnaire method of assisting diagnosis that is currently under development is the Ritvo Autism-Asperger's's Diagnostic Scale. They are currently looking for people on the autistic spectrum to take the test and have asked me to include the following letter...

February 25, 2006

From: Ari and Edward Ritvo, MD

SEEKING ADULTS WITH AUTISM OR Asperger's’S DISORDER TO ASSIST WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF A DIAGNOSTIC QUESTIONNAIRE

We are developing a questionnaire to identify adults with autism and Asperger's’s disorder.

It consists of 78 brief questions that are answered by making a check mark in one of four columns. The questions concern general experiences and attitudes and not personal information. It takes less than one hour to complete, and does not need to be completed at one time.

All information on the questionnaire is coded by a computer and kept strictly confidential. This insures that no one can ever be identified by name or otherwise be recognized. 

The California Institutional Review Board, Inc. and the California Graduate Institute have approved the questionnaire. All professional, State of California, and Federal Guidelines for protection of human subjects are being followed to assure confidentiality. An “Informed Consent to Participate in Research” to sign will be given to you before you are given the questionnaire.

 We prefer to have you fill out the questionnaire when we are present so we can answer any questions you might have. We will be glad to arrange to visit you at you convenience or we can meet at our office near UCLA in West Los Angeles. We will reimburse you for any expenses that you have in connection with helping us (transportation, etc.) and a subject fee of ten dollars is available.

There is obviously a great need for an objective questionnaire to assist individuals and professionals in identifying adults with autism and Asperger's’s diagnosis. We thank you in advance for considering to help us in this important project.

Please call or e-mail us at:

Phone (310) 476-5109                

E-mail, eritvo@aol.com

The Tilt Test

Scientists at the University of Florida conducted a study which looked at videos of 16 babies and toddlers who had later been diagnosed as having Asperger's and found that they displayed movement abnormalities. Some reflex movements that should have disappeared by their age hadn't and others had failed to appear. These included abnormal facial expressions, falling to one side while walking and failing to keep their head in line with the body when tilted. While not entirely reliable, the researchers suggest that the tilt test be performed routinely after the age of six months as a way of detecting the possibility of Asperger's much earlier.

Future Potential for Blood / Genetic Testing

It is possible that in the future there may be blood tests or DNA tests that can suggest whether or not a person might be autistic, but there is unlikely to ever be a single pass or fail test. This is because autism is a complex condition that manifests itself in many different ways and may even have multiple combinations of causes. It is unlikely that there will ever be a single gene or protein in the blood that just all people who are autistic have and nobody else. However, many scientists continue to investigate this possibility.

Brain Scans

There are identifiable differences in the way people with Asperger's syndrome use their brains which can be measured in experiments, but there is still too much variation in peoples brains normally for it to be of use in diagnosis at present.

Definition Overlap Procedure Tests Reasons Reactions Spectrum Disclosure
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