The AQ Test and me

I read an interesting article in the Times magazine today.  It was headed The Aspergers Effect and questioned whether aspergers is losing its stigma, in part because of the AQ test which has led to increasing numbers of people seeking a diagnosis of asperger syndrome.  The AQ test was devised by Simon Baron Cohen at Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre to show that autistic traits are not necessarily symptoms of disease but rather traits that we all have to some extent.

This ‘everyone is on the spectrum’ approach is controversial as it can trivialise aspergers and undermine the difficulties that many people wth AS have.  There is a line between having autistic traits and having aspergers syndrome but it seems from reading this article that a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon and claiming they have aspergers when really they don’t.  Just because someone may be a bit obsessive about something or dislikes socialising for example doesn’t mean they have aspergers.  Nevertheless I think the AQ test offers people an opportunity to identify their traits and find a connection with autistic people which I think is important.  It gives an opportunity for us to empathise with those who have asperger syndrome and to develop more affective strategies.

Certainly for my family where there is an obvious run of ASD then the AQ test has been an interesting thing to do.  My husband scored 17 which is bang on average for a man and yet he is not very sociable, has poor eye contact and is clumsy.  He sounds autistic doesn’t he and yet he is able to travel to new places without the slightest bit of anxiety, understands all manner of oddities in the English language and has no sensory issues at all.  Lucky man!

Then there is me and unlike my husband I do have difficulties in the areas he finds easy.  Not surprisingly, when I did the AQ test (and I’ve done it three times now) I scored 33.  Compare this to the score of 15 for the average woman my score suggests I may have AS.  I don’t feel particularly bothered by this because ever since my son was diagnosed with ASD I’ve learnt a lot about the autism spectrum and can see that I have some autistic traits.  However, whether my  traits are enough for an AS diagnosis I don’t know.  The AQ test is not a diagnosis and it makes clear that people with a score above 32 can lead functioning lives as I do but should a functional life stop you seeking a diagnosis?

According to the article Dr Gould thinks such people shouldn’t seek a label but I’m not sure I agree.  People may appear to lead a ‘normal’ life but are they really as functional as they appear or have they learnt strategies to manage or mask their behaviours?   Just because someone is functional doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering from feelings of isolation or anxiety or even depression?  Surely a diagnosis may help them understand themselves better and find a connection with similarly affected people?

As for me, I can’t see the point in taking this further.  As my husband says, I’ve managed  so far even if I am on Planet Deb.  There again….

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6 Responses to The AQ Test and me

  1. Jazzygal says:

    I guess the results may help you understand more about yourself and I think Planet Deb must be a lovely place :-) So long as you’re content.

    xx Jazzy

  2. I couldn’t get into the Times article (paywall) but, as you know, I wrote about this before and every time I’ve taken the test I’m on the cusp of a diagnosis, certainly me having aspergers would explain a lot, but, like you, I’ve learned to live with who I am at this stage. If I’d been diagnosed as a child, and given help, that might have made a difference to my life xx

  3. TechyDad says:

    My oldest son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Since his diagnosis, as we’ve read more about Aspergers, I came to realize that I’m an Aspie too. All my “quirks”, social “issues”, and my way of thinking just lined up. We couldn’t finish a page in a book about the subject without me linking it to something that I do or did in the past.

    I’ve taken the AQ test and scored a 36. In my case, I decided not to pursue a diagnosis as it would cost money and I couldn’t see how me being diagnosed would help my aon (or me). Still, the knowledge that I’m an Aspie means that I’m in a unique position to help my son cope with the neurotypical world.

  4. Fiona says:

    As a diagnosed aspie myself with a daughter on the spectrum also diagnosed, interestingly I scored 33 on the aq test as well lol, everyone has some traits Nature versus nurture comes into as well, tho i do have lots of sensory issues but some of that could be to do with being born a premie 24wks.

  5. JuliesMum says:

    I always score very highly too, and I’m quite pleased to know that I share this with my son (who does have a diagnosis) – makes me feel we’re in it together. Maybe the word diagnosis is not quite the right one to use for us – its not as if we actually have a medical condition. It would be nice to be able to identify ourselves though. It would be so nice to be able to say, “I’m not just being rude, I just find small talk a bit pointless because I’m a semi-Aspie.” Perhaps it would be a bit like explaining to people that you were going to Edinburgh on holiday because you were Scottish and proud of your heritage.

  6. Jim Reeve says:

    I too have taken a few tests with “see a doctor right away” as the outcome. But for Simon Baron Cohen to say that everyone has autism makes him sound more like Sacha Baron Cohen. Because only Borat would say something that stupid.

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