What Is An Asperger’s Test?
Kristen Finch, a speech therapist who sometimes works with children with Asperger’s Syndrome, always joked with her co-workers that their husband had traits similar to those with the disorder. Difficulty with empathy and reading social cues, for example, are characteristics commonly attributed to men by their spouses, in addition to being common symptoms of the Asperger’s.
But in Kristen’s case, she was more right than she knew. After mentioning it enough times to her husband, he found an online Asperger’s quiz to roughly gauge the prevalence of Asperger’s traits. He took the quiz, and scored very high. So he went to his doctor, and found that, in fact, he had Asperger’s Syndrome.
The Finches have been featured in an episode of the popular radio show This American Life, as well as a best-selling book that David wrote about his discovery, The Journal of Best Practices. Now, perhaps more than ever as awareness of the autism spectrum disorder grows, people are wondering if they are in the same situation as the Finches.
Diagnosing Asperger’s Syndrome
Asperger’s is a syndrome (called Asperger Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome or Asperger’s Disorder) that a person can have without even realizing it, and without suffering acute negative consequences. It’s a high-functioning variant of autism, marked by difficulty reading social cues, physical awkwardness and an unusually high level of focus or reliance on routine. As such, it’s associated with behaviors that many perfectly happy people carry their entire lives.
As awareness of the syndrome has grown, so has the popularity of online quizzes to determine how you rate in relation to the diverse set of symptoms. And while David Finch’s use of such a quiz led him to a diagnosis, and a profound process of self-discovery, it’s important to note the potential and limits of such a quiz. So let’s be clear:
NOBODY CAN SELF-DIAGNOSE ASPERGER’S OR AUTISM. IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE AN AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER, TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR.
An online asperger’s test can be helpful and informative, but is not even close to the opinion of a mental health professional.
Okay, now that we’ve made that clear…
What is Asperger Syndrome?
Asperger Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, which means people who have it share traits of people with varying levels of autism, but the number and severity of the symptoms vary all along the scale. In fact, the latest version of the psychological diagnostic manual (the DSM) has eliminated Asperger’s as an isolated syndrome, instead calling it a high-functioning form of autism.
It’s named after Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger, who in 1944, studied and documented children with hindered social skills and difficulty with empathy. The diagnosis has become more common, and while it still has many differences from autism, is now associated with the spectrum.
Asperger’s is one point on a wide range of diagnoses along the autism spectrum, and even symptoms associated with Asperger’s itself can vary greatly. Traits associated with the syndrome include:
Hindered social skills: People with Asperger’s tend to feel great anxiety in social situations, have difficulty reading cues in and maintaining conversations. They have trouble with eye contact, body language and facial expressions.
Eccentric preoccupations and rituals: They tend to fixate on routines or ritualistic behaviors. They repeat physical motions, rocking or flapping fingers and toes, for example. But they also dive deep into mental challenges like puzzles or complex problems.
Fixation and talent: People with Asperger’s tend to zone in on very specific issues, often related to numbers or statistics. They tend to have a more limited range of interests, but unique and focused talents and skills related to those interests.
Difficulty with physical coordination: Often they are observed as not feeling comfortable in their own bodies, or to boil it down, they are somewhat clumsy.
As mentioned above, people with Asperger’s are typically very high functioning. As in the case of David Finch, you can go an entire life just thinking you are “shy” or “awkward” or just a little different, when if fact, you may have some level of Asperger’s.
In fact, many autism spectrum advocates oppose the very definition of Asperger’s as a disorder, instead favoring the redefinition of what’s “normal” and a better understanding of the diverse range of neurological tendencies. Such advocates use the term “neurodiversity” to describe the autism spectrum as a normal range of mental function.
What causes Asperger’s Syndrome?
There are various developing theories about the causes of Asperger’s and autism. Most agree that there is are genetic factors involved. Some people have irresponsibly pushed the idea that there are environmental causes, despite a persistent lack of evidence.
There is zero evidence that Asperger’s or autism spectrum disorders are caused by anything environmental or that they can, at this point, be prevented or cured.
What can an Asperger’s Test tell me?
The test will not tell you if you have Asperger’s. Sorry. In fact, if you are sitting here reading this and glancing at the quiz, wondering if you have Asperger’s, I’ll just cut to the chase—you probably don’t. You’re probably perfectly normal, or some variant of what we call normal.
That said, you could have Asperger’s, or have some traits that fall on the autism spectrum. This test is a very rough starting point to answering this question for you. It will rate the strength of your Asperger’s traits, as well as your more “neurotypical” traits. It won’t tell you anything definitely, but it will tell you your tendencies and likelihoods in a few areas, such as talent, compulsions, social and physical behavior and your perceptions.
So I have Asperger’s. Now what?