Asperger’s Test: The First Step To Diagnosis
There are many Asperger's tests, quizzes, and resources available online for adults who think that they or someone they know might have Asperger's.
Asperger's Syndrome (AS), also known as High Functioning Autism, is an autism spectrum disorder that mainly displays itself in social situations. People with AS are socially awkward and usually don't pick up on verbal and physical cues well. Growing up, people with AS enjoy rules and routine. They are usually resistant to change.
Individuals with AS are high-functioning and do not suffer from a lot of the developmental problems that are usually associated with other disorders on the autism spectrum. A person with Asperger's may be of average or even exceptional intelligence. Many individuals with Asperger's go into highly specified fields, like engineering. To someone who might not be aware of autism or Asperger's, they might just think that a person with AS seems introverted or 'different'.
Symptoms of individuals with AS generally improve as the patient gets older and, if needed, they may receive various treatments to deal with their symptoms. The positive thing to know is that many people diagnosed with AS can work, get married, have children, and lead normal, happy lives.
Asperger's Test for Adults
Since children with Asperger's have relatively normal development and autism hasn't always been looked at as being on a spectrum like it is today, it is totally possible for an adult to have Asperger's and not be aware of it.
One study by M. R. Woodbury-Smith, J. Robinson, S. Wheelwright, and S. Baron-Cohen (2005) found that primary care facilities in the 2000s received high referrals for AS, potentially due to the higher awareness of autism spectrum disorders that exists today. They suggest that the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) is a good screening tool for physicians to use in these situations.
One thing that physicians need to be aware of is the possibility for false positives. The study does mention that it is possible for adults to have autistic qualities and never seek diagnosis or treatment because their traits or symptoms are too few and do not interfere with their lives.
Asperger's Test for Children
There are specific symptoms or warning signs of AS that are more apparent when a person is younger. For example, parents who find that their child is lacking empathy, is not interested in sharing emotions or discoveries with other people, and gets very focused on rules and routines, might want to consider Asperger's as a possibility.
Parents can seek out the help of a professional to find out what treatment options are best for their child. As a child with AS grows up, they will need support to become more self-aware and comfortable in social settings. There are many resources available and education for families with a child or children on the autism spectrum.
Autism Speaks has a Websites for Families page that lists a wide variety of resources and support groups.
Online Asperger's Tests and Quizzes
Online Asperger's tests and quizzes are easy to find and take, like this one developed by the Cambridge Autism Research Center. This test has proven to be an effective screening tool for both adults and adults taking the test on behalf of their children.
Another alternative is PsychCentral's Autism/Asperger's Quiz. This quiz is another online tool that can help you determine if you or someone you know should see a professional for an official AS diagnosis and treatment options.
The Autism Research Center has provided a list of different screening tools and tests designed to pinpoint patients with AS or other disorders on the autism spectrum. While these tests can help a person understand what symptoms professionals look for when diagnosing AS, they don't automatically provide a score and might be hard for a layperson to understand.
Asperger's Traits and Symptoms
I refer to both traits and symptoms when talking about Asperger's, because some of the characteristics of individuals AS are strengths and differences, more than 'symptoms' as we usually consider them. The word 'symptoms' has a negative connotation, but individuals with Asperger's and other autism spectrum disorders have characteristics that are part of who they are and not seen as negative.
On the other hand, some of the things experienced by a patient with AS could be considered as symptoms in the traditional sense, including things that negatively impact their functioning in day-to-day life. Many of these symptoms improve in adulthood because individuals learn different coping mechanisms to deal with them.
Here are some of the traits and symptoms commonly associated with AS:
- Attention to detail and focused interests.
- Introverted and creative.
- Don't follow social norms.
- Focus on rules.
- Normal or above normal intelligence.
- Normal language and intellectual development in childhood.
- Significant difficulty in social situations and trouble 'reading' other people's behavior.
- Sensitive to overstimulation.
- Delayed motor development.
- Robotic speech.
- Repetitive behavior.
- Can become withdrawn or isolated, especially as teens.
- People with AS may also suffer from depression and/or anxiety.
- Tendency to stare or avoid eye contact.
- Dislike changes in routine.
- Do not pick up on subtle changes in tone of voice, don't get sarcasm.
If You Get a Positive Asperger's Test Score… What Comes Next?
Let's say you have done a little bit of research. You have taken an online Asperger's test and are almost certain that you or someone you know has AS.
If this is the case, and you believe that undiagnosed Asperger's is affecting your life, you may want to see a professional for diagnosis and treatment options. If you are concerned for someone else you know well, you can (gently) share your concerns and encourage them to take advantage of the resources that are available to them.
There are several different types of health care and mental health practitioners who can help patients manage AS, like psychologists, neurologists, psychiatrists, and pediatricians. There is no cure for Asperger's Syndrome, as stated in this Healthline post, but there are several treatment options. These include:
There are many medications such as SSRIs, antipsychotics, and stimulants that can be taken to control various AS symptoms. Unfortunately, there are no approved medications that treat Asperger's or Autism specifically.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
One case study, conducted by Dougal Julian Hare (1997), found that CBT was an effective treatment for a male patient diagnosed with AS, severe depression, and self-harming behaviors. CBT has been found effective in reducing anxiety in patients with AS, because it helps them become more aware of their thought patterns and how those thoughts influence their behavior.
- Social Skills Training
Social skills training is a popular treatment for children, teens, and adults with AS. Many of the problems associated with AS come from poor social skills, since people with AS often miss important cues, which could lead to social blunders and misunderstandings. Teaching patients with AS to tune in on some of these things can make a big difference in their ability to interact with their peers without running into these types of issues.
- Physical Therapy
A study, conducted by Jaswinder K., Sharma S., Bhatia M.S., and Sachdev M. (2013), found that, "Physical therapy can be used as an adjunct for patients with AS to improve their sensory integration and motor coordination." They suggest that physical therapy should be part of a wider strategy to treat and educate patients and their families, and that physical therapy can help improve the patient's standard of living.
- Talk Therapy
BetterHelp is an online counseling/therapy service that matches counselors with patients in a way that fits the professional's experience. Patients who are struggling to live a normal life with AS can turn to a counselor for help with insight into their thoughts and behavior, as well as coping mechanisms to use in daily life.
The great thing about this affordable online therapy is that it can be used via the web or a mobile device, and your therapist can be messaged at any time. Plus, you can easily change therapist if the one you are matched with isn't a good fit.
- Speech Therapy
Speech therapy is another method that can help patients with AS manage their symptoms. Speech and language therapy can be used to help correct monotone speech, for example, and help the patient understand other people's speech and nonverbal communication better.
Estimates on the prevalence of Asperger's Syndrome vary widely, but one meta-analysis found that the range was about 1 to 5 per 1,000 people. Studies have also found that there is a higher incidence of AS in males than females. For people who think that they might have Asperger's, there are many online tests and resources that can help them learn more.
Once Asperger's or another autism spectrum disorder is suspected, the next step is to seek out diagnosis and treatment options, especially if symptoms are interfering with daily life. There are many different options available, from medication to control anxiety and depression, to therapy and social skills training to help patients manage better in social settings.