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Gavin Greig [userpic]

Autism-Spectrum Quotient

June 9th, 2010 (09:59 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

It was interesting to come across an old article containing the Autism-Spectrum Quotient Test, which is apparently used as a measure of the extent of autistic traits in adults. There are also warnings from the authors that it’s not a diagnostic tool, so I reckon it falls into the category of “interesting toy that might have indicative results”. Speak to a real medical professional if you have any concerns.

Anyway, the average score for a control group was 16.4, with a score of 32 or more indicating “clinically significant levels of autistic traits”. Don’t read too much into it, you can score more than 32 and still live a normal life, etc.

I scored 33.

I’m quite happy with that. As I have at least the self-awareness of a bollard, I know I’m not the world’s most socially capable person, but any other symptoms would be relatively mildly displayed. I like order, and I can get into routines, in ways that can no doubt be annoying for others, but I’m not seriously obsessive about them; just more comfortable. My liking for order is selective; I can still be pretty messy and disorganised!

I’m happy to have a borderline score because that’s pretty much where I would see myself; somewhere near the edge of most people’s social scale, but fully functioning. I’m also quite happy being a software developer, a profession where people seem to reckon such traits may be more common.

I’m mildly relieved the number wasn’t higher, partly because I don’t want to think of myself as having a “condition” with its accompanying labels, but mainly because I don’t want an excuse. If I’m difficult to deal with in some way, that’s my responsibility and my fault (or maybe yours ;-).

Edit: Realized that the last paragraph could read as being dismissive of the condition of autism. That's not my intention.


Posted by: Toby Atkin-Wright (tobyaw)
Posted at: June 9th, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC)

I scored 23.

Posted by: Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures)
Posted at: June 9th, 2010 10:39 pm (UTC)

31 - I think it goes with being a writer and generally spending a lot of time hunched over a keyboard instead of boozing at t'pub.

Posted by: Andrew Patterson (qidane)
Posted at: June 9th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)

Hmm, 27 - so who are these people who bring the score in the control group down?

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: June 9th, 2010 11:06 pm (UTC)
Crazy or smart?

They're too busy socialising to be filling in questionnaires on the Internet!

Posted by: Steve Pugh (very_true_thing)
Posted at: June 9th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC)
Little Steve

29. About where I expected.

Posted by: Tomm (hobbitomm)
Posted at: June 10th, 2010 05:49 am (UTC)

Surprisingly, I pull the average down a bit. 19, tho', so still above the average for their control group.

Posted by: Nik Whitehead (sharikkamur)
Posted at: June 10th, 2010 08:18 am (UTC)

32. The whole social thing baffles me a lot of the time.

I'd be interested to see the gender split on their numbers given that autism is generally described as more common in males.

Posted by: meepfrog (meepfrog)
Posted at: June 10th, 2010 08:47 am (UTC)


I rather expected to be higher. But there were an awful lot of questions that I hovered beteen slightly agree, and slightly disagree...

Posted by: silverwhistle (silverwhistle)
Posted at: June 10th, 2010 12:02 pm (UTC)
Smiley Rosa

33 also.
I thought I might have scored higher.
But how much of it is innate, and how much is learned. I wonder?

Posted by: silverwhistle (silverwhistle)
Posted at: June 10th, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
Unicorn Lady

My point is that some of my guarded social behaviours are coping strategies. I was very outgoing and confident when young, but I experienced a lot of bullying because my social background and intellectual interests differed from those of my peer group at school. I recovered at university, only to get kicked back again by continued rejection re: jobs. But I've always been obsessive in my interests.

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: June 11th, 2010 12:12 am (UTC)

The simple, most honest and straightforward answer to your question is "I don't know". But it's a good question that deserves a better one.

Autism as such seems to show up in early development (under 3) and has a genetic component, according to Wikipedia, but a learned mental attitude could tick the same boxes in a questionnaire. It's quite likely my attitudes are at least partially learnt, growing up in a small place in the country with no close friends nearby.

Posted by: silverwhistle (silverwhistle)
Posted at: June 11th, 2010 09:40 am (UTC)
Smiley Rosa

It's quite likely my attitudes are at least partially learnt, growing up in a small place in the country with no close friends nearby.

Which creates the alarming possibility of what a "bright lights, big city" Gavin might have been like!

Yes. I think this is why I tend to be wary of questionnaires as personality assessments & c: they are not diagnostic tools because there's no way of differentiating innate from learned responses. I learned not to give out too much with people because from the day I first bounced into school, aged 5, I discovered people wanted to call me names and/or hit me because my accent and speech were different and I loved schoolwork and reading. The only people who would be friends with me were other misfits, such as a girl who had a hand missing (thalidomide). I wasn't sporty, and from the age of 7 or 8 I wore glasses (adding "Four eyes, goggle eyes" to the repertoire of name-calling).

I went to see a careers service person the other day, and was told I shouldn't talk 'loud'. I've never regarded my voice as 'loud' – she was on the quiet side, and we were in a sort of glass-box room that did weird things to acoustics – but I was told that at interview, one should never use a louder voice than the interviewer and try to mirror them in pitch & c. I'm taller than her, and she seems to have found me intimidating, which boggles me. But it seems that no-one wants me as I am: I try to change, but somehow that's never good enough.

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: June 11th, 2010 10:08 am (UTC)

Which creates the alarming possibility of what a "bright lights, big city" Gavin might have been like!

Probably not very different; maybe a bit.

Working in a job where questionnaires for personality assessment are central to what we do, I share your general wariness, but think a well-designed questionnaire can provide genuine insight. The thing is always to take it as a starting point for thought or discussion, not as gospel on who you are and certainly not as sole grounds for a judgement.

I wouldn't have identified you as loud either. While I'm sure it is possible to modify behaviour to connect with others better, people who are supposed to be experts regularly fail in this, unless they're prepared to go to con-artist levels, so I think a fair bit of it is luck, even if it is science-based luck - you get on with the other person, or you don't.

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