“Being a geek and being socially inept are not sufficient” – Uta Frith on criteria for autism (interviewed by Tania Marshall here).
I probably tick both the geek and socially inept boxes pretty well, but what’s the difference between that, autism and Asperger’s? This has been complicated by recent changes to diagnostic criteria that seem to lump Asperger’s into the broad category of ASD, or autism spectrum disorder. The main difference with Asperger’s is that there is normal, even advanced development during early childhood in skills such as reading, while autism has been contrasted on the basis of delays in learning.
I’m currently receiving daily emails from the Asperger’s Test Site, which is helping inform me: they differentiate Asperger’s on the basis that, compared with autism, those with the condition tend to at least muddle through life without intervention, while with autism, that’s simply not possible. But there’s a whole variety of people on the spectrum, and maybe ‘spectrum’ is a more useful word because it emphasises variation. To compound the problem, Asperger’s has been removed from the most recent edition of the US diagnostic ‘bible’, the DSM-V, and those diagnosed with it are now considered to have an ASD. In the UK, Asperger’s is still recognised.
Diagnosing Asperger’s is quite difficult; much of the knowledge relates to children, and particularly boys. It is far less recognised in girls because it tends to present itself slightly differently. As a middle-aged woman, I wondered whether the tests would flag anything up.
I’ve taken various self-administered tests, and the results are below, along with links to the tests/websites.
Aspie score: 145/200 neurodiverse, 67/200 neurotypical. You are probably neurodiverse.
This basically means that it’s quite likely I’m an Aspie, although having visited discussion forums, there are people with much higher neurodiverse and much lower neurotypical scores. But I’m beyond borderline with these scores.
Baron-Cohen: [Update: I should have referred to this as the AQ test, as I think I’ve confused people by not knowing its proper name!] 40. 26-31 is borderline, and 86% of people in that category have AS (Asperger Syndrome). 32 is the official threshhold. I’ve done this twice. I scored 37 the first time, and wondered if I was trying to get the ‘right’ answers to prove I have AS, so I redid it, trying to be totally, totally honest, expecting I’d be much more borderline, but I wasn’t. The more totally, totally honest I am, the more totally, totally aspie these tests tell me I am.
I also found an academic paper on empathy by Baron-Cohen and his colleagues (he’s one of the leading experts in autism). On that test, I fell firmly in the middle of the AS normal distribution, which is significantly different to the neurotypical distribution.
Broad Autism Phenotype Test: Yes, this is on a dating site, I subsequently realised, when I got a welcoming email (I thought it was an odd name for an aspie site…). Anyway, I was rated Autistic/BAP (broad autism phenotype), as I was above the cut-off on all three scales (123 aloof, 100 rigid and 102 pragmatic). The results told me: “You probably are not very social, and when you do interact with others, you come off as strange or rude without meaning to. You probably also like things to be familiar and predictable and don’t like changes, especially unexpected ones.” Maybe. But those are topics for other blogs.