This is part of a series on how hard Autistic diagnostic tests are for me from an ethical, situational, and emotional level. Today the AQ-10 – the most widely used diagnostic test in the world for Autism. The first in the series on the RAADS-R test is here.
This test has a number of errors in it. The one linked below has a glaring error in it described here – it should be 6 or more not more than 6. It’s also unreliable according to large scale studies. Basically it’s not a good test for Autism at all – there are advanced versions of this known as the AQ-28 and the AQ-50.
I score 5/10 on the AQ-10 – I am not Autistic. Sorry.
The Autism Quotient Test (AQ-10)
Ok there’s one scale here – there’s no option to agree or disagree so you have to make a choice. This is pretty hard – again forced into a binary when neither agree nor disagree could be an option – so I will feel anxiety every time I feel I have ‘lied’ by making a best guess. This is also made more complex by the fact I have moral scrupulosity OCD – I have to be honest.
- I often notice small sounds when others do not – ok. What is a small sound? I grew up around my family who were most likely also Autistic, they also hear small sounds. So they are big sounds? Nearly everyone hears the stuff that I do usually they are just are not as aware of it. Are we talking the constant buzz of a refrigerator? Cause that seems like a big sound to me – but others say they can’t hear it but it’s not a small sound… I guess this is true. I will Slightly Agree. [1 point]
- I usually concentrate more on the whole picture, rather than the small details – What picture? I know the saying is used in a colloquial format to mean looking at the overall concept but it could also be the whole physical picture. As I said in the RAADS questionnaire this is highly variable for me – sometimes I do want small details, sometimes I do want just a broad overview, sometimes I look at the strokes in a painting, sometimes I do look at the whole painting. Usually? I now am trying to assess every time I have ever concentrated on something – and when was I concentrating and when was I just glancing? Because when I glance I am probably likely to see the whole picture, rather than small details. But sometimes I concentrate on the whole picture. Where’s the option for I don’t know to make an accurate accessment? I am not always detail oriented, and I’ve had a lot of negative reinforcement when I’ve missed details. So I have to Slightly Disagree here. [1 point]
- I find it easy to do more than one thing at once – Yes, this is always true. I breathe and type all the time. I do lots of things all at once. My body has a heart beat – I am constantly doing multiple things at a time. Oh multitasking? Is that what they mean? Sometimes I can multitask – depending on what the tasks are. I often listen to music and work. I often walk and talk on the phone at the same time. I fidget while listening. I do have problems when I have to change a routine to task switch but if task switching was part of the routine it’s not as difficult. I assume they want me to say no – I guess I’ll theory of mind what they thought I should answer even though I can’t do that apparently. I’ll say Slightly Disagree. [1 point]
- I find it easy to ‘read between the lines’ when someone is talking to me – which someone ? Cause I have a dictionary of how to interact with different people depending on the social context – my proximity to knowing them does influence how much I understand of their communication style – and given the propensity for people to constantly misunderstand either other – Neurotypical people often talk longer than they want to. I’d say that everyone is terrible at reading between the lines. So do I do this as much? Maybe – sometimes people attribute my passion as anger when I talk about systems – but that’s never the context. So they understand me less – this is known as the double empathy problem. I will infer then they mean I am ‘stupid’ can cannot understand social context – I don’t want to lie though so I will Slightly Agree. [0 points]
- If there is an interruption, I can switch back to what I was doing very quickly – ok I know the answer to this one easily – the first question I can answer simply – Definitely disagree. [1 point]
- I know how to tell if someone listening to me is getting bored – yes. I do know this – a lifetime of people being bored with me has made me hypervigilant to when they are losing interest. Unlike with other Autistic people or ADHD people who often will not be as obvious at ‘listening’ due to neurotypical people’s frequency to not be able to ever hide their emotions outwardly it’s pretty easy to tell when they are bored with me – it’s never usually subtle. I will Definitely Agree. [0 points]
- When I’m reading a story I find it difficult to work out the characters’ intentions – uhhh… how many books do you want me to go through? Some authors clearly mask the intentions of a character only to do a plot-twist(?) this is a really common technique in story telling meant to make the reader surprised – other times authors think they are being crafty with their subtext that screams out from the page – it really depends on the book. I have read a lot of books, and now I am trying to recall whether or not I find it difficult always, or just times where the author has deliberately not given away any motivations because they need the plot twist to catch the reader unaware. I guess I Slightly Disagree. But again – not confident here. [0 points]
- I like to collect information about categories of things (e.g. types of car, types of bird, types of train, types of plant etc) – umm… collect information? In a binder? On a computer? In my mind? What are we talking about here – I do like to collect information about my areas of interest. But I remember page numbers from traumatic books I have read that affected me deeply due to hyper empathy. I didn’t like collecting that information – I did it, but often it was not a conscious choice. I also collect a lot of information about categories of political figures – so dictators has a category here – I didn’t particularly like collecting this information either. I do like collecting information in my mind mainly about stuff I do like but it’s not always a conscious choice when or how I do this. It just happens. I think about my cognitive capacity for memory a lot because I don’t have much in the way of working memory and I often don’t realise when I am codifying information. My categories are also abstract in nature – I relate things to other things that are not obvious in my own categories. I guess… I do ? Maybe? Slightly Agree. [1 point]
- I find it easy to work out what someone is thinking or feeling just by looking at their face. Two logic conditions here this means that it will return true if either one of them is correct. I have studied body language, and facial stuff my whole life – I have a great catalogue of different emotions – I can’t always tell what people are thinking by looking at their face – because I don’t believe anyone can – I have seen so many psychics get it wrong looking at people’s faces – I don’t think anyone can reliably mind read, or there would be way less misunderstandings in the world. That condition is definitely false for me. But the feeling one is true, unless I am tired, or drained and I need my social batteries to recharge. FALSE or TRUE == TRUE I think I Definitely Agree [0 points]
- I find it difficult to work out people’s intentions – now or in the past. Because now I know a ton of information about how people are always lying to each other because it seems to happen all the time, and they can apparently mind read all the time, and they think of me as a liar because I fidget and have issues with eye contact – I am pretty awesome at working out people’s intentions, and am I an observer or am I someone who is involved, because my capacity to understand people from the outside is much better than when I am involved due to the constant pressure of masking and also not wanting to hurt people and controlling tone – so I need to focus resources on that. But if I am observing people this is not a deficit. I will choose Slightly Disagree. [0 points]
This test is garbage… absolute garbage. It’s based on people overestimating their abilities, and underestimating ours. It’s filled with ableism – it’s unreliable. It’s the most common screening test for Autism – and people have not been diagnosed because of it. I would not have been. I still don’t know if my answers are accurate enough because there’s a lot of undefined things in this test.