Autism Spectrum Test (Quotient)

Measures the extent of autistic traits in adults and can be used as part of the diagnosis of Asperger syndrome.

Refer to the text below the test for more information about the evaluation and interpretation of the results.


The Autism Spectrum Quotient helps assess adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger Syndrome (the mildest form on the autism spectrum).

People with a clinical diagnosis tend to score above 32 out of 50 on the AQ and males in the general population tend to score higher than females.


Items: 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 33, 35, 39, 41, 42, 43, 45 and 46 are scored: Definitely Agree (1) | Slightly Agree (1) | Slightly Disagree (0) | Disagree (0)

Items: 1, 3, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 34, 36, 37, 38, 40, 44, 47, 48, 49 and 50 are scored: Definitely Agree (0) | Slightly Agree (0) | Slightly Disagree (1) | Disagree (1)

80% of adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders scored 32 or more in the Autism Spectrum Test. However, please note that whilst scores of 32 or more are considered to be indicating clinically significant levels of autistic traits, this test is not intended by its authors as a self-diagnosis and those who obtain high scores should be seeking professional medical advice.


1I prefer to do things with others rather than on my own.
2I prefer to do things the same way over and over again.
3If I try to imagine something, I find it very easy to create a picture in my mind.
4I frequently get so strongly absorbed in one thing that I lose sight of other things.
5I often notice small sounds when others do not.
6I usually notice car number plates or similar strings of information.
7Other people frequently tell me that what I've said is impolite, even though I think it is polite.
8When I'm reading a story, I can easily imagine what the characters might look like.
9I am fascinated by dates.
10In a social group, I can easily keep track of several different people's conversations.
11I find social situations easy.
12I tend to notice details that others do not.
13I would rather go to a library than a party.
14I find making up stories easy.
15I find myself drawn more strongly to people than to things.
16I tend to have very strong interests which I get upset about if I can't pursue.
17I enjoy social chit-chat.
18When I talk, it isn't always easy for others to get a word in edgeways.
19I am fascinated by numbers.
20When I'm reading a story, I find it difficult to work out the characters' intentions.
21I don't particularly enjoy reading fiction.
22I find it hard to make new friends.
23I notice patterns in things all the time.
24I would rather go to the theatre than a museum.
25It does not upset me if my daily routine is disturbed.
26I frequently find that I don't know how to keep a conversation going.
27I find it easy to "read between the lines" when someone is talking to me.
28I usually concentrate more on the whole picture, rather than the small details.
29I am not very good at remembering phone numbers.
30I don't usually notice small changes in a situation, or a person's appearance.
31I know how to tell if someone listening to me is getting bored.
32I find it easy to do more than one thing at once.
33When I talk on the phone, I'm not sure when it's my turn to speak.
34I enjoy doing things spontaneously.
35I am often the last to understand the point of a joke.
36I find it easy to work out what someone is thinking or feeling just by looking at their face.
37If there is an interruption, I can switch back to what I was doing very quickly.
38I am good at social chit-chat.
39People often tell me that I keep going on and on about the same thing.
40When I was young, I used to enjoy playing games involving pretending with other children.
41I like to collect information about categories of things (e.g. types of car, types of bird, types of train, types of plant, etc.).
42I find it difficult to imagine what it would be like to be someone else.
43I like to plan any activities I participate in carefully.
44I enjoy social occasions.
45I find it difficult to work out people's intentions.
46New situations make me anxious.
47I enjoy meeting new people.
48I am a good diplomat.
49I am not very good at remembering people's date of birth.
50I find it very easy to play games with children that involve pretending.
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About Autism Spectrum Quotient

The Autism Spectrum Quotient helps assess adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger Syndrome (the mildest form on the autism spectrum). It is a measure developed by psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen and colleagues at Cambridge's Autism Research Centre to investigate whether adults of average intelligence present symptoms consistent with autism spectrum conditions.

People with a clinical diagnosis tend to score above 32 out of 50 on the AQ and males in the general population tend to score higher than females.

Th AQ can be used as a screening instruments but it is important to note that, despite its predictive properties, it is not a diagnosis tool. It consists of 50 items that the respondent rates on a scale from definitely agree to disagree.

The AQ items are said to cover five different domains associated with the autism spectrum:

  • Social skills;
  • Communication skills;
  • Imagination;
  • Attention to detail;
  • Attention switching/tolerance of change.

However, factor analysis in some studies found only two, three or four factors instead of five.

The items may be classified in two groups with approximately half of them worded to elicit an "agree" response from neurotypical individuals and the remainder to elicit a “disagree” response.

  • Items: 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 33, 35, 39, 41, 42, 43, 45 and 46 are scored: Definitely Agree (1) | Slightly Agree (1) | Slightly Disagree (0) | Disagree (0)
  • Items: 1, 3, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 34, 36, 37, 38, 40, 44, 47, 48, 49 and 50 are scored: Definitely Agree (0) | Slightly Agree (0) | Slightly Disagree (1) | Disagree (1)

In the first major trial using the AQ, the average score in the control group was 16.4. 80% of adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders scored 32 or more in the Autism Spectrum Test. However, please note that whilst scores of 32 or more are considered to be indicating clinically significant levels of autistic traits, this test is not intended by its authors as a self-diagnosis and those who obtain high scores should be seeking professional medical advice.

The study by Woodbury-Smith et al. found that the AQ may be used for screening in clinical practice, with scores lower than 26 able to rule out a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome.

Studies have found the AQ shows heritability (from twin studies) and cross-cultural stability, and that it has predictive value for clinical diagnosis on the autism spectrum.

People suffering from an autism spectrum disorder usually display problems with both verbal and nonverbal communication and expressing their feelings and emotions. They may find it difficult to engage with others emotionally or understand the subtleties of conversation between two people.

Other signs may be inability to make eye contact, repetitive or restrictive behaviors, preferring to stick to rigid routines, developing specific interests or hobbies.

 

References

Original reference

Baron-Cohen S, Wheelwright S, Skinner R, Martin J, Clubley E. The autism-spectrum quotient (AQ): evidence from Asperger syndrome/high-functioning autism, males and females, scientists and mathematicians [published correction appears in J Autism Dev Disord 2001; 31(6):603]. J Autism Dev Disord. 2001; 31(1):5-17.

Other references

Woodbury-Smith MR, Robinson J, Wheelwright S, Baron-Cohen S. Screening adults for Asperger Syndrome using the AQ: a preliminary study of its diagnostic validity in clinical practice. J Autism Dev Disord. 2005; 35(3):331-335.

Bishop DV, Maybery M, Maley A, Wong D, Hill W, Hallmayer J. Using self-report to identify the broad phenotype in parents of children with autistic spectrum disorders: a study using the Autism-Spectrum Quotient. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2004; 45(8):1431-1436.

Hoekstra, R.A., Bartels, M., Cath, D.C. et al. Factor Structure, Reliability and Criterion Validity of the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ): A Study in Dutch Population and Patient Groups. J Autism Dev Disord. 2008; 38, 1555–1566.


Specialty: Neurology

Objective: Screening

No. Of Items: 50

Year Of Study: 2001

Abbreviation: AQ

Article By: Denise Nedea

Published On: July 8, 2020

Last Checked: July 8, 2020

Next Review: July 8, 2025