This is going to be a series on how hard Autistic diagnostic tests are for me from an ethical, situational, and emotional level. I will start with the RAADS-R test.
I am analytical by nature. I don’t think I am over analytical, I think people who don’t consider as many options as me to be less analytical but not deficient. It’s just a difference in how I process information.
- I score 144 on the RAADS-R 
The Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale-Revised (RAADS-R) – First 10 questions…
Lets have a bit of a dive through about why this test sucks as for me as an Autistic person. First of all it’s got a different scale based on whether you are male or female. RIP that’s bad science so we are already off to a bad start.
Secondly the options are:
- True now and when I was young
- True only now
- True only when I was younger than 16
- Never true
We have binary possibilities straight off – but also with weird added context of before I was 16. I don’t know in my mind when I was 16, like I know I was 16 at some point but I have time agnosia (inability to measure time). This makes it hard for me to distinguish exactly when I was 16.
I want to answer as honestly as possible always, and they are making me take educated guesses.
- I am a sympathetic person. Ok yes easy: True now and when I was young
- I often use words and phrases from movies and television in conversations. Ok second question and I already can’t answer this easily – everyone does this – I don’t know a single person who doesn’t do this in my life. But how often is often – what is the frequency here, I know I did it more as a child than I did as an adult. These days I might also use a lot of phrases from movie and TV without knowing. Also I haven’t seen every movie or TV show, so it’s entirely likely that some of my sentences or phrases are from movies I haven’t seen. I will take a guess here and say: True now and when I was young – but I don’t feel good about it or know if it’s accurate.
- I am often surprised when others tell me I have been rude. Wait people don’t get surprised when they have been accused of rudeness? I would have thought that shock to a negative statement would be the default reaction. Oh wait you mean people are intentionally rude? That seems pretty hostile. I am always surprised when people think I have been rude – because I never mean to be – so I guess this is True now and when I was young.
- Sometimes I talk too loudly or too softly and I am not aware of it. Again… I am usually aware of it. Other people just seem to have a problem with it or attribute it to having to have a consistent tone – I am usually modulating my voice based on the amount of environmental noise around me, the social context of talking, and how flat I am currently feeling – I am usually always aware of it. Oh… sometimes? How often is sometimes again? Like does that mean some of the time or sometimes? Like specific situations? I guess sometimes but not some of the time it is true, and I’ve definitely not been aware of it as a kid but I am aware of it now. Other people are not aware why I do it but I guess that’s my fault. So I will choose True now and when I was young.
- I often don’t know how to react in social situations. Uhh… maybe? Often again… OFTEN? WHAT FREQUENCY IS OFTEN? My anxiety is getting bad cause they keep talking like this is an obvious concept – but frequency of occurrence is always relative. I didn’t when I was a child, but I still have some situations where I get this wrong because people have decided not to be explicit about how I talk. So now I get this right more frequently than I get it wrong… but I still might be often – I don’t know how often that is… I feel like the answer is True only when I was younger than 16 (with this context).
- I can “put myself in other people’s shoes”. I mean I don’t like borrowing shoes. I know what this phrase means but this is a needlessly ambiguous question that relies on understanding of a specific thing. What they really are asking here is “are you empathetic?” but they have cloaked it in a weird context specific and language specific understanding to mask it’s true intent. Just ask what you mean. “You are being too literal”. Literally fuck off. (I mean that figuratively of course). So… what? When did I learn to do this? I think about the age of 8 I have a memory of teasing a girl and she made me realise that I needed to think about circumstances outside my own. So It was True only when I was younger than 16 – but according to any moral development stuff I have seen – this is applicable to all people – no one is born with the capacity for empathy – the neuroplasticity of the brain in younger childhood allows this capacity and for some it doesn’t develop until far later in life than others..
- I have a hard time figuring out what some phrases mean, like “You are the apple of my eye”. No I really don’t, and everyone wouldn’t understand what this means without an explanation – if I saw it in a book with specific context when two characters were talking to each other about affection for one another – it would be obvious. I use metaphor to translate. If someone just busted this out without context when I first learned it and I was taught not to ask questions young so I’d probably be confused about it. But that was through active discouragement of inquisition about things in the world. People got sick of me asking why. So I stopped doing it. Also some phrases ? What do they mean here by some? Does everyone else always know the specific context of a phrase in a non-contextual situation? Am I just more honest about not knowing stuff… It reminds me of Ron Burgandy using the phrase “When in Rome” wrong because he interpreted the context wrong. So… how do I answer? I have to assume they want me to be “stupid” here because that’s the context. But I think for me it is Never true.
- I only like to talk to people who share my special interests. Ok this is a loaded as hell statement. Sometimes I don’t know what my special interests are, it assumes that I must have fixed specific interests. I often didn’t know I was interested in a lot of subjects until I heard of them for the first time. So how can I know? I do like talking about my special interests…. I don’t like small talk but I like other people who are passionate about special interests talking about theirs… and again – was this true only now if they want me to answer yes – I can’t actually remember a huge amount of details about my conversations from when I was a child. So… another wild guess based on massively incomplete data and bad assumptions about me as a person. I am going to say True only when I was younger than 16 but I have massive anxiety over this response.
- I focus on details rather than the overall idea. Again… what idea? And what specificity are we wanting? They always assume that everything is one or the other. But often it’s very context specific depending on what sort of information people want. You can look at my answers here and infer that I over complicate stuff and focus on details, but that’s because they are trying to make me make a self-assessment and I want to be as accurate as possible. I guess this is always true, but I often miss a lot of details, and sometimes I only want a broad understanding of a topic… so it’s neither true nor false. So what do I choose? True now and when I was young.
- I always notice how food feels in my mouth. This is more important than how it tastes. Two logic conditions that are not always true here – I do always notice how food feels in my mouth, but it’s not always more important than it tastes – I eat some things that the texture isn’t that great but taste good. So the logic processing for this statement is TRUE & FALSE == FALSE. Never true.
Can you see the issue here? This is so frustrating for me personally as an Autistic person. I am not sure if other people relate but we desperately need some tests designed with specificity taken into consideration. Because they rely on a whole subset of data that is ambiguous to anyone with my logic processing, and my situational understanding. That’s 10 questions and I am mentally fatigued from trying to work out what they want to actually ask. There’s 80 questions in this test. 😫😢