It’s Take-a-Test Tuesday and this week I’m taking The Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale-Revised (RAADS-R).
The Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale-Revised (RAADS-R) is a diagnostic instrument that is intended to be administered by a professional in a clinical setting. It was primarily designed to identify adults who often “escape diagnosis” due to a “subclinical” level or presentation of ASD.
The 80 questions on the RAADS-R cover four symptom categories:
- language (7 questions)
- social relatedness (39 questions)
- sensory-motor (20 questions)
- circumscribed interests (14 questions)
Its validity as a diagnostic instrument was assessed in a 2010 study in which the RAADS-R was administered to 779 people at 9 different clinics in the US, UK and Australia. This is an impressive undertaking; the variety of testing sites suggests that results of the study are highly generalizable (that they can be extended to the general population). However, like all of the other instrument validation studies I’ve seen, this one also has an imbalance in male-female ASD participants, with a greater proportion of males in the ASD groups.
Pros and Cons of the RAADS-R
- Validated in a clinical setting by a multisite study with a large sample size
- Provides overall and subscale scores
- Includes questions to assess sensory-motor skills
- Takes autistic childhood traits into account, even if they are no longer present
- Many questions phrased as always/only/never
- Complex answer choices may be confusing for some
- Questions skewed toward social relatedness
- Longer than most other tests
Taking the Test
There are a few places you can take the test online:
- I took it at aspietests.org because I like the way they present the scores at the end. However, you’ll need to create an account to take the test there. (I did so about 2 weeks ago and they haven’t spammed me at all, which is nice.)
- If you’d rather not create an account, you can find a no-personal-information-required version at Aspergian Women United.
- There is also a paper based version of the test available but it doesn’t include a scoring key.
Wherever you decide to take the test, the format is the same. It took me about 20 minutes, but I spent a lot of time thinking about some of the questions so you may finish more quickly. You’ll be presented with 80 questions and for each you have to select one of the following:
- True now and when I was young
- True only now
- True only when I was younger than 16
- Never true
This answer format, which is unique to the RAADS-R, allows for the fact that some adults on the spectrum had symptoms as children that they no longer experience or vice versa. Having to think about these options can make the test challenging to complete, but do your best to select the most applicable option. Each of the four options has a different score value so accuracy counts on this one.
I often found that none of the four choices was exactly right because the questions tend to be phrased in an “always/never/only” format when what I really needed was a “sometimes” or “most of the time” phrasing. I also found it hard to answer some of the vaguer questions when it came to my childhood because my memories weren’t specific enough or I wasn’t a very self-aware child (which is a clue in itself, I suppose).
Scoring the Test
Each question is scored on a 4 point scale:
- 3 if the symptom is always present (or never present for “normative” questions)
- 2 if the symptom is only present now
- 1 if the symptom was only present in childhood
- 0 if the symptom was never present (or always present for “normative” questions)
If you take the test at the Aspie Tests site, you’ll receive an overall score plus 4 subscale scores. If you take it at the Aspergian Women United site, you’ll get only an overall score.
In the 2010 study, the scores for those previously diagnosed with ASD range from 44 to 227. The scores for control group members ranged from 0 to 65. The researchers set a threshold of 65, meaning that a score of 65 or greater “is consistent with a clinical diagnosis of ASD.”
It’s interesting to note that only 3% of the people with ASD had a score below 65 and 0% of the control group participants had a score of 65 or higher. There is very little overlap between the two groups, unlike the AQ study results.
In addition to an overall score, the RAADS-R provides 4 subscale scores. The creators of the test emphasize that the overall score is more accurate than any of the subscale scores alone, but the subscales are still informative if you’re curious about where your stronger/weaker areas are. The researchers also state that the RAADS-R is not intended to be administered outside of a clinical setting (such as online or by mail, both of which are valid AQ administration methods).
Here are my scores:
Total score: 175
- Language: 6
- Social relatedness: 97
- Sensory/motor: 36
- Circumscribed interests: 36
Any of the scores that are highlighted in yellow are above the clinically identified threshold values for ASD.
The averages given in the chart above are for people who took the test at the aspietest site. They tell you how you compared against other people who identify with the same neurotype as you, but little else.
The Bottom Line
The RAADS-R uses a slightly different approach than other autism screening instruments, making its use more appropriate in a clinical setting. However, it still provides an interesting snapshot of autistic traits for those who take it informally.
103 thoughts on “Taking the RAADS-R Test”
The only/always/never format is incredibly frustrating. I feel that the option of “sometimes” is more accurate (for me) on a lot of the questions. Also, questions like this: “I like having a conversation with several people for instance around a dinner table, at school or at work,” are bizarre! Around a dinner table implies family, friends, and choice; to lump them all together makes it impossible to answer correctly – I’d rather eat behind a dumpster than plop myself down at school or work to eat and talk together! I did score an average of 164 after taking it twice answering the hardest questions differently (my “sometimes” option!).
I took it twice as well (once at each site to test them as I was writing this) and got 171 on the second try.
Some of the questions feel like they’re worded too broadly, yes. Like the ” prefer going out to dinner alone or with people” one? There are some people I prefer going to dinner with rather than going alone, but not many. In those cases, I tried to interpret “people” as people in general rather than the few people that I’m close to and comfortable with. But it was still hard to answer many of them.
I recently met a young person with Aspergers and began to read up on Aspergers and Autism. I keep seeing myself, but still never considered myself to be on the Austistic spectrum because I have none of the sensory dysfunctions common with Austism. I even began reading your blog to further learn more and understand my young friend. Again, the more I read through your blog, the more I saw myself. So I took the test. I scored 144. I actually learned quit a bit just taking the test. I am 42 years old and am just learning how to act normal is some social settings. So far I have really enjoyed reading your blog! Thank You for Take a test Tuesday!!
Thank you! I’m so glad you’ve been finding the posts helpful. I know what you mean about learning how social situations work at a later age. I’m still working on that, mostly with much success.
The sensory dysfunction really seems to vary widely from person to person. I have quite severe tactile sensitivities and difficulty filtering sound, moderate sensitivity to light, but no issues with smell or taste (which can be quite severe for some people). We’re each autistic in our own way! 🙂
I got 158, but I’ve got quibbles about nearly every question, like I always do on these tests. For example, questions about my tone of voice or understanding other people’s tones of voices, I’m more likely to attribute my answers to auditory processing issues and hearing trouble, so questions like that probably made my score higher than it should be. Or then it asks if I always like to go the same route to places and do I get upset if I have to take a different route, and I had to say no, which is probably the NT answer, because I have a bit of a special interest with maps and finding shortest paths and optimal paths weighted on different factors and if I’m in a new place I like to get started building my mental map and so each time I go somewhere I’ll make slight deviations from my previous route, not enough to get lost, so that I can gather more data, and continue to do so until I have the entire city memorised and then I use my best path algorithms to get from one place to another and rarely deviate from my favourite route thereafter. So my answer there probably lowered my score even though the more detailed explanation of why I gave the answer I did doesn’t sound like NT behaviour, does it?
And then it asks me if I know what apple of my eye means and I do because I looked it up when I was 16 and I’m not sure what apples have to do with anything (awful grain texture) but I do know it means you like someone so I said I know what it meant.
And it asks me if I like to have close friends. Well, I like to have one close friend at a time and I don’t like hanging out with people other than my close friend because it takes away from time I could be spending with them, and I know my close friend needs time away from me doing other things, but I need lots of alone time too, so that works out well, but if I spend time with someone I don’t like then I’ve used up my socialisation quota for the day and can’t spend time with my close friend later because I need time to destress. But I do like having close friends; I just like having them sequentially: one close friend for a few years, then maybe we drift apart or they move or we break up or something and then a lonely period and then another close friend. So I said I liked to have close friends, but I’m not sure whether it was the right answer or not.
It asked if textures/sounds/colours sometimes seemed to change, if they were dull at times and sensitive at others, or tolerable sometimes and intolerable at others. I don’t know what the right answer was, but I said no, because temperature reminds me very strongly of all the previous times it was that temperature, and the bright yellow sound the scanner makes when they check out your groceries at the store is always intolerable and never less bright or garish, and the slimy, icky, smooth feeling of glass can be somewhat less intoleratable with sufficient distraction, but it never becomes neutral or pleasant.
So, I’m never sure whether I’m answering the questions in a way that they will be interpreted correctly. I always have this nagging suspicion that I’m giving answers that will make me seem more autistic when they can better be explained by other things (ptsd, hearing loss, etc.) or sometimes answers that will make me seem more NT when my reasons for answering that way aren’t quite normal.
All these online tests I take tell me I see pretty autistic, but I’m still on the fence. I think I have a lot in common with many people on the autistic spectrum, and I know that I’m not NT, but I think there is something extra that makes an autistic person autistic that I’m lacking. Nonetheless, I have special interests, I stim, I have auditory processing disorder, synaesthesia, am a savant, have a nearly photographic memory, and am on the upper end of the dissociative identity disorders spectrum.
I have a theory that these (and most other) psychology tests are utterly useless without having an extended conversation about each question and why the person is answering the way they are, because “Do you have trouble with X?” can be answered yes or no, but “No, I have an algorithm for that” is very different from “No, it comes naturally to me.” and “Yes, I’m a non native speaker of $language” is a very different answer from “Yes, I keep trying to interpret it literally and getting confused.”
I agree with so much of this. Your last paragraph really gets to the heart of the problem. I understand common sayings because someone has explained them to me or I’ve looked up the meaning, not because they make innate sense. The questions would be much more telling if they were better at capturing the reasons behind the behaviors. It probably wouldn’t even take much rewording for most of them. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if the reason this is meant to be administered in the presence of a clinician is that most people on the spectrum are going to want to hash out the meaning of every question while most NTs would just zip through, answering most things in the negative. 🙂
There was this was question “I like spending time eating and talking with friends.”
Well, I like [eating] and [spending time with friends] (sequentially)
I’m not too fond of [eating and spending time with friends] (simultaneously) because I find it stressful pursuing two contradictory goals simultaneously ([having a conversation] and [eating my food before it gets cold]).
A word like “while” would help differentiate those. “I like having a conversation with my family or friends while I’m eating.” (not especially, but it’s okay.)
I suppose you’re right that having quibbles with nearly every question is telling in and of itself. I think a clinician would get very tired if they tried to administer a test like this to me. I think there’s only so many times a neurotypical person can put up with “yes, but I think this could be more accurately attributed to…” in a conversation. but maybe not, because if it’s their career, then that’s kind of like their special interest so maybe they’d be enjoy a conversation on the finer points of it. when i was a kid i had a fairly high success rate in distracting my therapist from talking about stuff i didn’t want to talk about by starting a conversation on seratonin reuptake inhibitors or something similar.
The study I read about this specifically mentioned that the RAADS-R is meant to be administered by a clinician so that the test taker can ask for clarification. At least the creators of the test seem to recognize the pitfalls of how its designed. Also, aspies are supposed to be black and white thinkers but nearly everyone commenting on this (aspie or otherwise) has mentioned the need for less black and white answer options.
Anonymus, I cannot tell you how SEEN I feel after reading these two comments from you. I’m 44 and for the first time finding such commonalities with another human. I’ve long since accepted who I am and how my brain works, and yet nevertheless it was so gratifying to read your words. Thank you.
Thank you all for your feedback. I created the RAADS-R with the assistance of many Aspies. You are correct that a sometimes option would make it easier. It was as frustrating to try to write a “good question” as it is for you to try to answer it. After many months we tested the RAADS-R as it is now… It can certainly be improved. THe comment ” I understand common sayings because someone has explained them to me or I’ve looked up the meaning, not because they make innate sense” Would make a great question!!!! Thank you for that. That is why we designed it to have a clinician in the room. The score is one thing, but a discussion about the behaviors with the person who may have AS is more important than a mere score. The test should give a clinician some direction. Please remember that so many clinicians never saw AS and don’t know how to diagnose it. Sadly, with DSM V around the corner, things will get more complicated because the AS diagnosis was taken out alltogether despite our fighting to keep it in 😦
Thank you for all your feedback
Dr. Ariella Riva Ritvo
Thank you so much for taking the time to comment here. We’re an opinionated bunch about these instruments, aren’t we?
I’m glad you emphasized that the RAADS-R is meant to be used to support a discussion about the behaviors covered in the questionnaire. It’s impossible to conclude anything from a single numerical score, especially with adults who have had decades to learn compensatory strategies. When I was diagnosed, I felt like the interview with the clinician was the single most important element of the process. It was interesting to get a cognitive profile from the tests, but the interview was comprehensive in ways that a single test couldn’t possibly be, given how varied we are as individuals.
Are there plans to revise the RAADS-R in light of the loss of AS as a diagnosis? I think those of us who were diagnosed as aspies originally will always think of ourselves that way. I use aspie, having Asperger’s and autistic interchangeably in writing/conversation, but I came onto the spectrum as an aspie and can’t see myself losing that designation just because there won’t be anyone newly diagnosed that way going forward.
The RAADS -R is being revised. However, I am not in agreement with DSM-V criteria and have a letter to the editor published about that subject. AS is a true entity and SHOULD NOT be discarded. People like yourself will most likely be refered to as mildly autistic but only if services are needed. The new criteria will preclude so many from getting the support services they need. It is tragic that a bunch of Drs can’t decide how to define the autisms…. I believe that AS will be back in the next book. The NIMH just announced that they will NOT fund ANY research studies based on the new criteria. Hooray, someone is listening!
I completely agree with you that the interview and ongoing conversation is the single most important thing in the diagnostic process. A score is simply a number… The questions lead to more questions, not necessarily answers, and as you already know, despite the years it took to develop the RAADS and RAADS-R, the questions are not perfect… Far from it… My aim was to try and understand the internal processes of my friends and patients with AS.
I wanted to create an instrument that would help inexperienced clinicians in remote areas recognize AS and how it expresses itself, and I wanted it to be free and readily available to everyone.
I don’t mind people taking it themselves, but I caution that it was not designed to say: “Ahha, I got a 195, I must be so Aspie….”
Thank you for writing to me! I enjoy reading the discussion
I read the press release about the new NIMH guidelines for funding. It’s interesting to see that they’re going in a direction that encourages looking at traits/symptoms independent of or across diagnoses (that might not be putting it exactly the right way – hope it’s close enough). Over and over in the comments on posts and in other places I get into conversations with autistic folks about the overlap between ASD and all sorts of other things (anxiety disorders, dyspraxia, SPD, etc). We don’t really care so much about what people are calling things as we do about understanding why some symptoms happen and what might be done about them.
I should add that it’s great that you made the RAADS-R freely available. So many instruments are kept locked behind paywalls. While we certainly don’t aim to use the freely available instruments to diagnose ourselves, they do make good conversation starters and help us understand which symptoms/traits are core to ASD. They also provide a starting point for researching and thinking about various elements of ASD,
When I first started to suspect I was an aspie, I did a lot of online research and so much of what I encountered referred to childhood symptoms. Finding the adult checklist-style instruments was my first real hint that adult ASD is different childhood ASD and I needed to be specifically looking at how ASD manifested in adults. That led me to Tony Attwood’s book and eventually to seeking out a professional diagnosis from someone who specializes in adult ASD evaluation.
Hi Dr Ritvo, I just wanted to say THANK YOU and let you know that taking your test online changed my life. It was the first solid indication that I was on the spectrum (I score around 144). I know the test is made for a clinical setting but for me, as an undiagnosed 33-year-old woman, it was far more helpful and appropriate than any other available test. It reflected a sense of who I am I’d never had before. I’m now waiting for my formal assessment but have already made huge leaps in self understanding and self care.
As a 64 year old clinician (LCSW) who just had another clinician suggest she might be an Aspie (and scores as an Aspie), I am wondering about a question for childhood trauma. I would love to know the overlap and if the childhood trauma is causing people to develop survival skills that look quite like an Aspie.
Perhaps, there is a vulnerable population who, when traumatized as children, select skills that help them when overwhelmed and frightened. These skills stick with them, as adults.
I feel as though basically, the reason that we on the spectrum are having such a difficult time with the wordings is that we want absolutes, we want to give the same level of precision in our answer to get closest to the truth. If I’m honest I’ve always had problems with answering slightly ambiguously worded questions (hello SATs) and I think that this is highly indicative of our aspieness, as nobody else I knew taking exams or tests would become extremely upset if they couldn’t fully ascertain the exact nature of a question or give a completely honest answer, and maybe not be able to move on for an extended period. I think this is because NTs just don’t look at questions so scrutinously, even when they are written for diagnostc assessments or exams.
I had the same experience as you for years, having every trait necessary to be on the spectrum but feeling that there was something undefinably extra quality that Autistic people had and I lacked.
This year some difficult life experiences forced me to accept that the feeling that I wasn’t on the spectrum and had something different was simply my own internalised prejudice/ableism that comes from living in a society that stigmatises Autistic people. And that’s despite having been involved with the neurodiversity movement for years.
9 months later and I’ve been professionally assessed, with a second opinion, and my diagnosis is Asperger’s. It was an incredibly emotionally difficult transition to accepting this, but feels good to be getting the kind of help and understanding from others that I always denied myself.
Thanks for another well researched post. (I think you got me hooked on the Tuesday Testing theme! This is fun)
This is my feedback on the RAADS-R test. I tried it (as a person who may or may not have aspergers) and scored 162, but I don’t have much confidence in the result because I found the wording of the questions very bad – Ambiguous, loose, sometimes hard to understand what they mean. I also found the categories to be unsatisfactory.
– Examples of poorly worded questions:
If someone tells me ‘I am embarrassed/jealous because of [whatever]’, what is there to understand – is there anything to do other than just accept it? Or does the question mean if I notice if people feel embarrassed or jealous, if they don’t tell me? That is a totally different thing,
Sounds, colours and textures don’t have feelings/senses, so e.g. ‘a sensitive sound’ doesn’t make any sense. What they probably mean is whether the test person’s perception of a sound, colour or texture can suddenly change… Still, the wording is confusing. (OK maybe I’m being pedantic here…)
I have never heard that statement, and it sounds weird and creepy. However, that is most likely because English is not my native language, and I can figure that it probably means that ‘I’ feels close to ‘You’. Same with this one:
I don’t like the expression, it sounds uncomfortable and does not make sense in itself, but I can easily figure out that it means that ‘he’ is a very emotionally sensitive person.
Then there are statements like these:
How do I know? That’s the type of question that people wouldn’t be likely to answer honestly. E.g. if I asked ‘Do you think I am considered to be a compassionate person?’, people would most likely reply ‘Yes’, because that is the nicest answer (compassion is considered a positive trait). If I asked ‘Do you consider me a loner?’ to those closest to me, they may try to answer ‘No’ to avoid giving me a negative self-image (‘Loner’ is considered negative, has connotations like lunatic, weird to many people). That depends on those persons, not on me.
Which group size? I tend to struggle in large group settings over time, e.g. a workplace. However, I can be great in small teams and had several very successful student team project experiences during my education. (as an adult only. But still, since a workplace is a group too, my answer depends whether I think of a big or a small group)
I had to give above a ‘no’, although I have big problems with sensory overload. I can’t stand being in a place like a typical mall even for a short time, because I get confused, overwhelmed, disorientated, frustrated, ‘zoomed out’ and ‘zombie-like’, clumsy, can’t concentrate on anything, some noises are painful, overall very stressed, tired and uncomfortable et.c… That is actually quite a handicap in many situations (not just malls). However, since I don’t feel anxious or frightened, I have to answer ‘No’. If they meant to ask broadly about sensory overload (which I suspect) and not just sensory-triggered anxiety, then they should have worded it differently!
These were just some of the examples of poor wording.
– Unsatisfactory categories:
I missed a ‘sometimes’, ‘a little of the time’ and ‘most of the time’ category – instead of totally all or nothing. And for some of the questions I don’t remember it this was the case when I was a kid, and had to guess based on vague memories and interpretations.
So – poor test, IMO.
should be “they may answer ‘No’’… (revised sentence with remains of another sentence in it:-)
I like how you pulled out the biased use of language (compassionate being the normative question and loner being the symptomatic question) because that’s a huge problem and one that I hadn’t thought of specifically. Although I’ll readily admit to both being a loner and not being very compassionate, I imagine many people would prefer not to be labeled that way.
I wonder how differently (and how much better) the test questions would be phrased if they had been written by people who actually experience the symptoms. Certainly they would be more specific. If the question about smells/textures/bright lights were worded as “overwhelmed” or “uncomfortable” I would answer positively but when it’s worded as “anxious/frightened” my answer is negative, like yours. So much of this is about degrees.
Come to think of another bias: the use of ‘Asperger lingo’ like ‘special interest’. A test should use neutral language and not special terms associated with a specific outcome.
Oh, good point. Most of the other tests use language like “engage in a favorite activity” or something more neutral.
You might find this interesting:
The RAADS-R test seems to be very similar to the standard clinical test for diagnosing adults in Australia, which I have done in a clinical setting. The scale for that one goes to 200 (I was told), and the threshold is 65. Just like the RAADS-R test, one has to say if [question] is true for different ages, I think they were the same categories. The questions were quite similar and just like in the RAADS-R test, I found many of them ambiguous and hard to understand, and took me ages to answer (while some of them were being explained to me quite a lot). I was still in doubt about some of my answers after completing the test, and was therefore also in doubt whether my result (119) was correct, so I didn’t really trust it.
It could be the same test or perhaps you took the earlier version. This is the “revised” version (hence the -R). I’m so glad you’re enjoying these Tuesday posts. They’re generating lots of great discussion. People are still commenting on the tests from weeks ago! I think I’m developing a new special interest, too. Taking them and writing them up as become a little too much fun . . .
I did it in February last year and was told it is ‘the’ test for diagnosing adults in Australia. It might build on the RAADS-R test or they may both build on a shared third framework or something, I don’t know:-) Anyway, as mentioned it was done in a clinical setting, as this test is also supposed to be, so I was guided through it. I was complaining a lot about the ambiguity of the questions while I tried to answer them, and he was helping with examples et.c. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had complained, and he said a client of his had rephrased every single question after taking the test and emailed to him, but that he couldn’t of course use her version without her permission. Then he said something interesting re. ‘clinical setting’ requirement: that in a sense, it is an advantage that the questions are ambiguous, because it gives opportunity to see how people handle ambiguity… which is in itself a cue. A diagnosis is not done on basis of a questionnaire test score alone! I think that is an important detail to remember. Whether a test is assumed to be done in a clinical setting (guided, and used as a diagnosis-assisting tool) or solo online, and supposed to in itself provide a final result.
Yes, you make a great point about how ASD folks are likely going to be much more bothered by the ambiguity than NTs. Tests like the AQ/AQ-10 are meant to be administered online, by mail or in a GP’s office, so they are probably worded in a much more straightforward way. The RAADS seems to be more of a conversation starter.
Ha ha:-) Actually I don’t think that can’t be any different. Creating good work takes time and focus, which then has to go from other things (or so it seems… but I think that’s more a naive assumption others make, while in fact the attention would just go on another interest if not this one). I hope your family is understanding:-)
My husband is wonderfully understanding about the amount of time I put into my special interests, especially now that the primary one is autism. In return I try to be conscientious about actually paying attention to him now and then. 🙂
That is nice:-)
It seems so:-) and apparently a very good conversation starter, just judging on the number of comments here!
A major weakness with all the ‘self-service’ test, regardless how well they are worded, is that they build on self-evaluation against an vaguely defined standard of ‘normality’. People almost always evaluate themselves relative to people they know – They have an inner ‘model’ of what’s normal based on those people (or at least some of them;-). The feedback they’ve got from these people, how socially adept and connected those people are, how they see themselves and others, their personality types et.c sets the norm.
A person who isn’t socially inept but is for whatever reason shunned or a misfit in his/her family may feel socially clueless. A person will answer a question about unusual perceptiveness to e.g. ambient sounds relative to the traits of the people he/she knows – if they are likewise perceptive, then ‘no, I’m not unusually aware of sounds in the surroundings, I’m just as aware as anyone else”. Am I clumsy? That depends whether I am more clumsy than people I know. Everybody drop objects and bump into things from time to time. – My answer depends whether I think I’m doing it more than others I’ve seen going about their daily business.
Also: one’s known people are never a totally random bunch of people, people’s network is always a pattern of some sort. You are genetically and culturally connected with your family, and everyone else are either connected to you through your family or others you know, or resulting from choices – of personality types, careers/interests, environments et.c. So no one has a neutral ‘mirror’ available that they can use to evaluate them self objectively against the elusive ‘normality’ standard when answering test questions.
Social adeptness is very relative. I could where someone who isn’t very socially adept but comes from a quirky accepting family might not notice their differences at all, while someone who comes from a more rigid family could be made to feel odd for even the slightest deviations from the norm.
And no worries about your reply length – this one is very thought provoking, as always!
Ah, this is also interesting, I rarely feel more normal than when I’m around my close family who’ve never tried to make me be anything other than comfortably myself, and who are all at least a little quirky and socially atypical themselves. I’ve always had safe, comfortable space at home and only felt alienated and wrong when interacting with wider society.
I’ve tended to very much fall onto the ‘neurodiversity’ side of things, that everyone’s different and different doesn’t mean wrong, because that’s been evident to me from my home life since childhood. I’ve only learned the value of labelling and ‘pathologising’ my traits into a clear ‘syndrome’ as I’ve hit hard limitations in my life where I couldn’t succeed without having that model to explain my difficulties to others and allow them to ‘meet me half way’, to let me work to my strengths.
On the one hand, this means I’ve been much less prone to extreme emotional outbursts even in my teenage years, because I’ve always been able to be odd and noisy and childish at home with no ramifications. On the other it meant that so many of the questions on the ADI-R interview in my assessment were clear even in adulthood, because I’d never really learnt how to ‘pass’ at home, it was always something I did in the outside world, then shed back in safer space.
It’s interesting to imagine how different I’d have been if I’d been forced to conform to societal norms even in my home life. I find it hard to imagine that it would’ve made a positive change. I’d have probably adopted very different coping mechanisms and been a much less happy and much more anxious person. This might have, oddly, made me more of an Asperger’s stereotype (I believe those are more likely tied to common coping mechanisms than innate spectrum traits), it might have made me more aware of my traits as negatives, or might have pushed me more into denial and shame.
It’s hard to say whether this would have lead me to being more or less obvious at assessment, or whether I’d have been identified earlier in life (as is I sought dyspraxia assessment aged 27 and Asperger’s age 32).
This is really interesting to me because I was raised in a very normative home. That meant I got a lot of instruction in how to behave, which meant I became good at passing. But it also meant feeling like I was forever doing something wrong. I guess it’s all a tradeoff in the end.
I was taught how to be polite, to have good values and care about others, to structure my time so I could do well at school, to be pragmatic, and how to work out what mattered and what didn’t. If tidying up meant shoving everything into a cupboard where no one could see, then that was good enough. If doing something made someone happy and didn’t hurt anyone else, then good for them (as long as their homework got done)!
I generally did well at school academically, but when I got to secondary school I was very quickly aware that I was not acting like I was meant to be acting or thinking like I was meant to be thinking, and I quickly learnt how to suppress myself socially, be invisible, not be noticed, not be a beacon to bullies.
I ended up with incredibly poor self esteem in my teens, I wanted to be like everyone else, knew with certainty that I couldn’t be but had no understanding of why. Some sort of label at this point would’ve helped hugely, to give an explanation. In the end I found ‘queer’ and took self worth from being a ‘freak’ but in a good way.
Through that I learned how to fit in without hiding who I was (exaggerated body language and all), but I always felt that I didn’t know how to make true connections with other people. I’m actually pretty good at the surface level of ‘passing’, in one on one situations I tend to mimic the other person. In larger groups I’m expressive, enthusiastic and funny, especially in groups who value something other than conventional social mores, but it was always at the expense of understanding – one big bluff.
People who don’t know much about the reality of Asperger’s often refuse to believe I’m on the spectrum, because I’m far from the stereotypical depictions. People who know autism better or who’ve lived or worked with me know different, I’m good at the surface level interactions but I need a lot more explicit structure and communication to do anything more. And then my Asperger’s assessment was a landslide of clear autistic stimming behaviours that I’d never been taught to suppress in private.
(Sorry this is rapidly becoming an off topic autobiography in your blog comments, I think I’ll stop now!)
Don’t apologize! Your comments are really insightful and I like how the comments create a rich tapestry of personal experience and background material for others to dig into if they like. Your description of how you were raised and how shocking secondary school was reminds me of my daughter’s experience. I tried to raise her along the same lines as those you describe and late in high school, she realized that she was a person of color living in a mostly white suburb. It took her most of her college years to find an identify she’s comfortable with (woman of color) and your comment here gave me a lot of insight into why that realization might have come so late in adolescence for her. She was raised with a lot of tolerance and the “real world” took her by surprise, I think. So thank you for that.
(Oh dear, I wrote this a while ago but apparently never clicked ‘Post Comment’)
Extremely insightful comment Mados!
I think people on the spectrum may also be more likely to self select for friendship groups and partners who are at least somewhat compatible with their direct communication styles, less likely to value nonverbal cues over straight forwardness and honesty etc. We might even mainly socialise in groups where our focus on things we’re enthusiastic about is considered normal or even desirable.
I know that once I became aware that I was only the spectrum, I started to notice that most of my friends were either like me or had a large number of friends who were like me. I also noticed that most of my social groups, especially board gaming and fandom, were extremely aspie-friendly.
There’s also the genetic factors. I’m pretty sure that everyone in my close family is at least in the wider autistic phenotype.
Tangentially, I find it difficult to read reports that compare me to ‘my peers’, which appears to be other people of a similar age, when all my close friends are incredibly intelligent and valued in their academic, professional or artistic fields. In adulthood we tend to self select for our ‘peers’ and so those sorts of comparisons become more problematic – when some of your traits are at ‘genius level’, being low average or slightly below average for some others seems like far more of a deficit given the people you’re comparing yourself with.
Not sure if you’re following the comments on this post so here’s a heads up that Mados replied to your comment but had to post as a new comment because the “reply” link disappeared.
Sorry… guess that was another overly long comment.
This is a reply to Nat/Quarries and Corridors’ 3 comments below or above. Not sure where this comment will land, there are no more reply levels:-) but I try to hit the right spot.
Cynthia writes that she has had a ‘normative’ upbringing, and that it helped her to learn to pass (but also made her feel ‘wrong’). I think I’m more in a boat similar to yours in regard to family background and upbringing.
I’m from a family of eccentrics, and tolerance is the big core value. Really, even if people annoy you (and my family members can be very annoying), you’ll have to just stretch your tolerance.
I did not think I was particularly different from the ‘norm’ when I grew up, because I wasn’t aware there was a norm.
I saw a world full of people who are all, naturally, different from each other, and many are eccentric. So ‘being different’ wouldn’t have made sense, because it assumes that there’s a great majority of people who are ‘the same’… Which is obviously not the case. When someone complained and accused me for being absent minded or ‘out of my mind’, not listening (~ in the same time as everybody else, e.g. in kindergarden and school), ‘an original’, and so on I didn’t really get why/if they would get upset.
The during the later primary school years it became harder, there were obviously some sort of norms and I was implicitly and explicitly made aware that I was ‘different’, ‘just myself’, ‘doing whatever I like’ and bla bla, still words that did not logically make sense but a growing indication that people considered themselves ‘inside’ normality and me not so much inside, which I figured made me more vulnerable to being pointed out.
Then from the early teenage years, my world view fell apart and I had to realise that there is a norm somehow, and I was failing to live up to its requirement. My friends drifted away, I stopped talking et.c., long sad story.
The point is: it takes quite a good understanding of what’s normal to define how normal oneself is.
I can see ‘Normal’ play out in front of my eyes sometimes. E.g., if we’re invited to a barbeque, the majority of the women seem to have something in common that I don’t have. A love of chatting, tolerance to small talk and noise, womanly types of interests, know-how about when and how to assist the host e.t.c. I also find it hard to have a conversation with any of them that lasts more than a minute. So that tells me that I’m different from them, and I can tell that they probably consider themselves to be the normal ones. I can’t help but feel sceptical about that but even assuming that I’m ‘different’, there could be many reasons for that. For example that I have grown up in a family of eccentrics, and my parents are socially a bit off (although they may not agree with that), and I’ve spent most of my adult life mostly alone, and my childhood love of solitaire activity and not paying attention to people. So obviously I’ve missed out on a lot of the social learning that supposedly takes place during life. So I find it extremely hard to figure what exactly is Normal, and how far I am from that if I’m not normal (probably not). And tests like the RAADS-R test don’t really help answer the question (but it is a bit of fun anyway).
Re: Upbringing and normalcy
I found this discussion very interesting. I was raised in a fairly “abnormal” family, but one that still values norms (inconsistently). Neither of my (divorced when I was in middle school) parents had friends, or at least not more than 1 friend, that I saw any evidence of actually being friends. They’d find that hurtful/insulting if I pointed that out (a fact I learned by telling my mother she didn’t have any friends when I as a teen). I know my father has been very hurt by his inability to make and keep close friends or partners. I know that feeling, like there’s a wall surrounding you keeping others out and you’re the only one who can’t see it.
I got some “You’re being rude, look people in the eye” and stuff like that as a child (particularly being forced into sensory-overloading situations), but I also consider myself to be a survivor of a certain degree of emotional neglect, a form of child abuse. Before I seriously started considering my autistic traits (a few weeks ago), I mainly blamed that for my social difficulties, plus the probably genetic tendencies toward anxiety and depression that helped isolate me. My parents weren’t the sort to follow mainstream parenting advice or seek a diagnosis for a child who, say, suddenly becomes withdrawn and shows signs of distress at a young age, and though they fussed at me for some traits/symptoms, they made no other efforts to change me. I also think that in some ways I suffered medical neglect as a child, and having my mental health needs totally ignored might be one of those. Sometimes my family could be loving and accepting though.
I have some strongly not-autistic traits as well as autistic ones, and one of those I think is being VERY sensitive to norms. I often know what stereotypes and so on will be lodged against a certain group before seeing any evidence of them, for instance. I’ve actually felt relieved, even laughing and elated, mentally if not literally pointing and dancing around in glee, when I finally saw a bigot (e.g., heterosexist or gender normativist) lodge a criticism that I anticipated since I adopted a related identity. I think this is related to my obsessiveness–I get so emotionally engaged with a subject, and the way I engage is both logical and uses emotions for logic, that I see all kinds of connections to the social/conceptual world springing out from it. Some of my strongest childhood memories are of avoiding things I really wanted to do, like sign up for 5th grade choir, because I’d heard my mom be judgmental to people who joined activities like that. I remember when I was younger especially hating seeing/hearing recordings of myself, because the way I speak and move isn’t in keeping with the ideals and I felt them unusually strongly. I’m still at a point in my life where I’m fighting to detach from them, but a lot have been shed, like my mother’s personal biases. There’s definitely other norms I don’t notice–if something isn’t personal/emotional for me, I might not have seen it, and I’m probably more in-tune with those that have been verbally expressed–but in general I think I’m overly sensitive to them.
The thing is, I’ve never been able to CONFORM TO those norms, no matter how much I could see them. (Nat’s writings were actually a significant source of validation for me as a late-teen non-binary gender-identified person, btw). Either I literally couldn’t or I couldn’t because I couldn’t want to. Or I did but it was like cutting off a part of me, like how I never pursued the performing arts in primary or secondary school despite being very drawn to them, like how I didn’t make friends or didn’t speak because I was too afraid of judgment, like how I didn’t get that crew cut when I was 12 because my mom was scornfully laughing at the idea when the haircut website suggested it (it’s not just about the hair, it’s about suppressing my gender identity for most of my life, and I still have to, in most aspects of my life). Note that the conforming was all negative things–not doing things, becoming so invisible that no one could see what was “wrong” with me. Of course they couldn’t see what was “right”, either. I’ve been taking these Asperger’s quizzes and sometimes they ask questions about intentionally learning to act normal–and other than learning how to make small-talk about the weather and dressing vaguely appropriately, I haven’t learned to act normal, I just don’t act normal. And the small-talk was something I WANTED to do, to connect with more people or make them feel better like I was ignoring them.
A lot of the ways in which I’m neurodivergent involve the ability to think through problems that would be easy for a neurotypical person, too, or to go through a series of steps to solve those problems. For instance, when I was in grade school I generally ate lunch near boys, unless someone happened to choose me as a friend and sit around girls. The boys would never really let me be friends with them, while the girls would reach out more–but it literally never occurred to me that I could sit at the table of girls who had acted friendly to me in ways I didn’t know how to reciprocate. As an adult (and teen), I’ve often felt awkward about not being dressed stylishly (I see fashion, too, and only a year or two ago found out firsthand that some people literally don’t by watching a friend try on clothes and speculate about making outfits out of pieces that were obviously different formality levels to me), and I’ve often wanted to tell the (usually imagined) judgmental eyes that I’m not doing fashion not because I CAN’T but just because I don’t… but recently I realized that, no, I actually can’t (or at least couldn’t, I’m pretty sure that now with a couple years’ work experience under my belt, and knowing strategies to plan buying things, I could if I wanted). The reasons I can’t aren’t because I can’t see fashion, but because I flounder around when I try buying clothes and have trouble making decisions (especially good decisions) about clothes and even more trouble staying on task enough to buy the types of clothes I need, or clothes that actually make outfits (unless I’m making one outfit that I’m suddenly obsessed with, in which case I’ll probably buy at least one important item that’s too uncomfortable to wear once the obsession wears off). It’s funny, because in other areas of impairment I’ve wished the opposite–that people would see it’s not that I can’t do something, it’s that I literally can’t see what I’m supposed to do (as in diction as a child, where I often couldn’t hear the distinction between two sounds where I was pronouncing one as the other).
Another non-normative thing I can’t actually not do despite cringing about? Not write so much. I’ve been getting a hard time about that one and have learned to feel bad about it (though how does me writing a lot inconvenience anyone? If they don’t like, don’t read), and while I can limit it with concentration and practice (say, at work, most of the time), writing less has never come anywhere close to naturally to me.
Are you OK to edit this part out of my comment from before, from here:
to here (and everything in between):
I think it is insulting, I regret writing it. Thanks in advance…
Precisely. I agree with everything your write in your comment. One’s social ‘frame of reference’ as adults happens by self-selection (if possible), and one’s childhood’s social frame of reference is likely to be deeply integrated with one’s own behaviours through culture, genetics et.c., so in any case, it isn’t objective.
So basically they’re giving an ambiguous test to people who think in absolutes? Argg. this is why I did poorly on multiple choice questions in school–often times the “always” or “never”-ness of the statements threw me.
Yes, precisely! I’m becoming more and more convinced that that’s the point of the test. I hate multiple choice tests. I majored in economics and found it much easier to be asked to graph, diagram or explain concepts for tests. I’ll happily fill up an entire blue book if it means avoiding multiple choice questions.
I can see this test being helpful with a clinician to clarify some points, but even as is, it pointed out a lot for me to think about. One of the things that stood out was how much I’ve been able to change my environment in ways that have helped me be more comfortable. Like “working with others in a group”…I’m okay with that if it’s “my” group who have learned what I will and won’t likely do well. With a group that doesn’t know me? No, that’s not going to end well.
I think this may be something that a lot of these tests miss: how much energy and experience has gone into adapting (although this test had a refreshing amount of questions about having learned coping or “fitting in” skills.
I liked this test (I scored 180) and liked the reflection on pre-16 data, but I did some interpretation of the questions, the way I thought a clinician might administer the test.
Thinking about the questions, especially how they applied to my younger self, was helpful for me too. The group thing! Yes. If it’s people I’m comfortable with, I’m fine. Otherwise, I just avoid at all costs. So many of my answers on this test needed to be qualified in some way like that.
Glad you enjoyed this one. I found it a bit frustrating but I’m developing a special interest in test taking so it’s all good. 🙂
I posted all the tests I could find on Twitter this summer while I was researching them. Unlike the AQ and Rdos tests, this one seemed to genuinely upset people who found it via retweets, they complained that it wasn’t fun and made them feel defective rather than just different.
I also find that you really have to adopt the mindset of an assessor when taking it, but the younger than 16 aspect helps you to prepare for the kinds of things you’re likely to be asked about in a formal assessment.
That’s really interesting about people saying this test in particular made them feel defective. I wonder if there is something in the wording that feels more judgmental or if it’s because the test is so black and white that not fitting the obviously “normal” group is a dent to our self-esteem.
The under-16 aspect of the test was revealing for me because in some ways I’m more obviously autistic now, but in others much less so. It got me thinking about adaptation and how we grow and evolve over the decades.
Huh. I have to agree about the ambiguity of a lot of the questions, and the wording issues. I did a fair amount of assessment in terms of what they were looking for myself. My scores were the following:
Social Relatedness: 80.0
Sensory / Motor: 37.0
Circumscribed Interests: 32.0
Definitely an interesting test. Would be even more interesting to take it with a clinician there, I think.
I think so too. It wasn’t part of my assessment but apparently others have taken it with a clinician and enjoyed the discussion it provoked.
I scored 195…… yikes……..
You beat me! 🙂 That’s fairly high, but keep in mind that this is meant to be taken with a clinician.
Scored a 181.5 when I took it.
I scored 120.0. Oh, no! Am I too normal? Or- wait, that means I’m abnormal even among aspies!
Dangerously close to normal . . . actually not. 120 is still pretty high.
Whilst having my stepson diagnosed as having high functioning ASD, my wife was forever pointing out how the things the assessors were saying referred to me, too. As a child, my mother was always telling me to ” look people in the eye” . As a theatre nurse, I work well in a small group, but I do find I get very agitated if an operating list is changed at short notice. I often say what I’m thinking, even though I know I probably shouldn’t – sort of a failure to edit the ‘inside voice’. It has been interesting to see that I score 124. As the child psychologist pointed out, at 50 years old, I have probably developed a few strategies to cope with ASD over the years, not least, I make a conscious effort to make eye contact ( to the point that my wife sometimes has to tell me that I’m staring a bit weirdly at someone). Is insomnia common in ASD? It’s now 4:30 am and I’m wide awake (again!) -at least I don’t sleepwalk, like my son!
You very likely have developed lots of coping strategies at your age. Most adults on the spectrum who grow up undiagnosed do – often to the point of making themselves seem at first glace to be un-diagnosable (to make up a word). The traits you describe here definitely fit the model.
Insomnia is very common. I’ve never seen any adult studies, but up to 80 of children on the spectrum have sleep difficulties of some sort. And if it makes you feel any better, I’ve been waking up between 4:00 and 4:15 AM for weeks now. My sleep cycles vary — sometimes relatively normal, sometimes very early waking, sometimes shift sleeping. A cycle will last for weeks or months then change to something else with little warning or even obvious motivation.
Having read your post and all comments until today, I’d like to add something to the experiences reported so far.
Partner and I have responded to a whole lot of questionaires related to autism in the process of self-diagnosing and being officially diagnosed autistic in our fifties. What I have learned during that process is that I need to know the background knowledge on which the questionaire is based to be able to give the “right” answers.
Recently, a questionaire regarding tinnitus was on our table. First thing I did, on the basis of the acquired knowledge, was to get it in the English language including the scores. Second step: partner filled in to the best of his knowledge. Third step: I asked him if he had responded truthfully to two specific questions because what he had told me was different from the answers he had given. He corrected without discussion. The final score corresponded with what we both saw his tinnitus to be. Fourth step: some days later, I found him again pouring over same questionaire, changing some of his previous answers. The final score corresponded even better to his and my experience of his tinnitus.
Lesson I have learned is that questionaires about my or whoever else’s autistic experience needs careful consideration of the author’s biases in drafting the questions and my autistic interpretation of said questions. There always seems to be a language/cultural/whatever barrier to cross and both parties need to be aware of it.
This is a great point. When I first taking the online tests, I spent a lot of time researching background information to help me figure out if I experienced certain things or had certain traits. And a lot of the questionnaires are poorly written or constrained by the necessity of being multiple choice to make them easy to score.
I reviewed most of your comments and I thank you for them.
. Most of the questions of the RAADS-R were written in collaboration with individuals diagnosed with ASD. It was meant to be asked from the AS viewpoint. That being said, I agree that some of the wording is awkward. If English is not your first language, the RAADS-R has been translated to several other languages. The questions vary in different languages to accommodate the culture of that country. Australia was a collaborator on this study so I would not be surprised if they have a modified version of the RAADS-R. Though I have the copy rights, I made it available at no charge and am encouraging clinicians to utilize it as an adjunct tool when they are trying “to figure out” what to call a person walking into their room. If someone took the liberty to modify the test without standardization, it is not a great thing.
Finally, let me stress again that while I think it is great that people want to take it on line and have answers, it was designed to be a part of a WHOLE CONVERSATION lasting more than just the duration of the test taking to figure out, not just what to call someone, but what their needs are. We, the researchers and clinicians have the duty and honor to supply much more than a diagnostic label. We are here to partner with our clients in an effort to make their life better. No one test as a stand alone can do that.
Dr. Ariella Riva Ritvo-Slifka, creator of the RAADS and RAADS-R
PS. Feel free to address me as Ari!
It’s great that you’ve made it available online for people to take freely. I know that many autistic adults spend a lot of time doing research and taking all of the available tests they can find before approaching a professional to seek a diagnosis, so these tools are important to have access to in that context. And I think most people are aware that the screening tools are meant to be used as part of a larger diagnostic process. I’ve tried to emphasize that in my write ups too.
It’s many orders of magnitude easier to critique screening questions than to come up with them in the first place, so we clearly have the easier job here. 🙂 It’s amazing that this post continues to get comments 14 months after it went up. I had no idea it would be read beyond the few blog readers I had at the time. Thank you for taking the time to read everyone’s thoughts and comment. You hold the dubious honor of being the only test designer brave enough to do so!
Thanks for making this test available! I can see in my head how this test ,administered with a clinician who could clarify or ask for elaboration would be very effective, but even as a stand-alone tool, as i said when this post was new 🙂 I really liked it. And the “before 16” questions really probed my to think about what life was like before I developed my coping mechanisms. I’m commenting again to properly thank you for a great instrument, and to point out why tests like these are so valuable: there are people like me who no longer work, and aren’t in particular distress from being AS, and so aren’t motivated to go for a professional diagnosis. I don’t have an employer I need to ask accommodations of, etc. But I still would like to understand why various life experiences turned out the way they did, and what is reasonable to expect in the future. Tests like yours validate my informal (but intense) research and remind me that my struggles weren’t because I was just too stupid to get things right.
In a sense, I feel this is more valuable now than when i was working. Maybe “The Retired Aspie” should be a thing–when the constraints of the work environment are removed and all the adaptations aren’t as necessary, then what? What does socialization look like outside of the work or parenting framework? The typical advice for a successful, happy retirement usually hits me as alien as did the typical advice on fitting into a new school. At least with a self-diagnosis, I feel a bit better armed to tackle this newish life phase.
Has it really been 14 months? That’s the sign of an excellent blog, musingsofanaspie!
Just jumping in here to second the idea of how helpful it would be if there was some information for how to transition to retirement for aspies. I can see there being a huge loss of structure and also of the “built-in” opportunities to socialize that work brings. Not that everyone will take advantage of those opportunities, but even just being around a familiar group people day-to-day can make life less lonely.
I’m curious now about what aspects of typical retirement advice come as across as alien to you. I know nothing about retirement or what the usual suggestions are for enjoying it (except maybe the obvious: spend lots of time with you grandkids, travel, etc.).
There’s being active in church, which…no. For several reasons, not the least of which is church has always been too intense for me–when the minister says things to push people to empathize with others, it just ends me into Overwhelms-ville. And actually, the “spend lots of time with your grandkids” is a little alien to me, because they come as a group of five and the interaction tends to spin my ADHD/stimuli sensitivity out of whack. A lot of people talk about volunteering for good causes and that feels like pushing into a group with established but not real accessible unwritten rules.
Picking up a creative hobby is one bit of advice that did work out well 🙂 It’s lucky for me that I retired into the internet age–that has made things easier in some respects.
The retired Aspie is much like a Neurotypical retired…. Except that learning new social ways is more challenging to an Aspie. This is a field that requires much thought and consideration…. I would say, that you can assume for now, that you can utilize the same methods and strategies you did while working. When dealing with people, take the concept of environment out. You may “pretend” you are speaking to a co worker when interacting with a person in another environment for instance. I would suggest defining your new environments and the people in them… What do you do with your time? wWho do you want to socialize with? Do you have a specialist to talk to?
Dr. Ariella Riva Ritvo-Slifka
I was sent away with a copy of the test by the Clinical Psychologist, and have to take back the finished product on Tuesday, so I figured I’d add in my thoughts even if this post is over a year old.
I struggled a lot to answer the questions, and in the end just wrote down all my thoughts about the confusing ones in the hope that the psychologist will decide for me which box to tick! I definitely missed a ‘sometimes’ option. I found it really hard to answer things which were phrased from the point of view of someone else. I don’t really know what other people think of me, or my tone of voice, for example. And having spent much of my life trying to just blend into the background, a lot of questions were hard to answer as my natural behaviours are probably long since buried by my coping mechanisms.
Some questions were simply too specific, so I struggled to apply them to myself even though I probably exhibit the behaviour. Do I quote from movies/tv? No, rarely, because I rarely watch movies/tv. Do I quote from books & music that I’ve sung? Yes, lots. But it feels wrong to tick that box, because it was about movies.
I took the test twice online, once I answered more strictly, giving the NT side the benefit of the doubt, the other time I answered more flexibly, giving the ASD side the benefit of the doubt. End result, 168 the first time, 200 the second time. So I suppose that even with a discussion on Tuesday about my answers, I know which way the diagnosis is likely to go.
Also, I have just realised the irony of a commenting feature which is asking me to ‘share my thoughts’, given that I may finally have an answer to just why it has always been so difficult for me to do so!
A lot of us had the same difficulties with pinning down how to answer some of the questions. The test designer commented here to say that the test is meant to be part of a conversation with the person diagnosing you, so hopefully you’ll get assistance with finishing it when you go back for your next appointment. Good luck with it tomorrow!
Social relatedness: 73
Circumscribed Interests: 28
I did not like this test. The never, only questions are to rigid to reflect real life. At times I felt I was answering oposite znswers gor similar questions. It took a long fime and I found thd test frustrating, iratating. But I appreciate you posting theses tests, yiur results and observations.
Score: 148. Language: 13. Social: 67. Sensory: 39. Interests: 29.
A lot of my scores went down since the last times. Odd. My last went Score: 163. Language 13, Social 72, Sensory 44, Interests 34. Maybe I’m more mellow today than the past few times?
I’ve never liked that “only younger than 16”. 14 was when my switch got flipped on and I got all the additional symptoms I do now and lost a few childhood ones. A LOT of my traits qualify for both sides of the answer. I pretend the 16 means 14 in my case, then argue with myself the rest of the test if that’s a good idea.
I don’t know how to answer the “I always notice how food feels. It’s more important than taste.” Yes, I notice both, and both have equal amounts of importance unless one is far more noticeable than the other. In example, the gristle in chicken. Might taste good, but that texture… And turnip greens. Awfully slimy, but tastes good! Very circumstantial answer.
Heheh, and I always have to assume most of the social questions are geared towards human beings. Yes, I like to have close friends. If they’re animals or imaginary. =P
And a side note, it’s cool one of the folks behind it keeps popping up here. Howdy Mrs. Ari!
HOWDY ASHE! merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or just have a great day! You can have different scores on different days… We all have days where we are more “tuned in” and other days where we just want to be left alone! I think it is brilliant that you figured out that your 16 was truly a 14. I don’t like that artificial cut off either, but when I designed the test, I had to land somewhere with a majority vote. The test is supposed to be useful, so you use it in a way that is helpful to you. You absolutely have the right idea. and the questions are far from perfect. I revised them for 2 years in a super obsessive way until an old wise man who is a Dr. told me they would never be perfect and if I want to make a test available, I would have to just get it out there and see what the folks think. Yes the social questions do refer to humans :))))
Ariella Riva Ritvo-Slifka PhD creator of the RAADS-R
Hi hi! And Happy Christmas/Holidays/Day to you too. 🙂
Thank you, it’s a relief that I guessed the age thing right. Now I can stop arguing with myself when I take it! And I’ll definitely take it over as I age, if for no other reason than external verification to see if some of my symptoms worsen as I age like some people say their’s do. Like those vile oversensitive sensory issues…
I don’t think any of us can ever make something absolutely perfect. As an avid tinkerer myself, I can’t condemn anybody for feeling a need to keep tweaking stuff. Or pronouncing something finished for peace of mind’s sake so they can indulge in another project. I look forward to any future revisions you get an urge to make. 🙂
Dr. Ari – I am 58, have a Ph.D. in Counseling/Ed.Psych and spent my life trying to figure out ‘how people work’ and STILL wound up blowing those scales (yellow all the way across at significant levels) and don’t know if it’s even possible at my age to get a diagnosis… For my life-time I thought I was just ‘too weird for words’ and it has caused me incredible grief over the long haul… this helps.. and I can quit blaming myself for being ‘less than’ — thank you.
You are very welcome. You absolutely should stop blaming yourself. You are NOT LESS THAN… You are just YOU! And look at what you have achieved…. All the people you council will benefit greatly from your uniqueness. Embrace it, and take the opportunity to teach others. WE have individuals who married into our family with ASD. We feel they are in the right family because we get them… We also feel blessed to have them teach us how to be real and direct :)….
All The Best
Hi, I know this post was from a few years ago but I’ve just recently taken the RAADS-R online was was seeking out opinions about its accuracy. I’ve always been weird, had a lot of trouble in social situations, I become overwhelmed and stressed out in busy and loud places, I have unusual habits and interests, I’m really intelligent but was unable to handle college or keep a full time job, etc… but it never occurred to me that these things could mean anything more than being quirky and introverted until my 7 year old son was diagnosed with ASD. I thought he was just quirky too, like me, albeit in a bit more extreme way. That’s probably why we ignored or downplayed his quirks until he went to school and they alerted us to how different he was from his peers. Anyway… through the process of his diagnosis and reading all about the characteristics of ASD, I started seeing how much of it was like me. I took a few online quizzes like the “Aspie Quiz” and RAADS-R, and scored very highly. 133 on the Aspie Quiz and 194 on the RAADS-R. But I’m still questioning whether it’s accurate, and whether it’s worthwhile to explore the possibility of diagnosis. I’m worried the clinician will just dismiss me out of hand because I appear relatively (for lack of a better term) normal. I’ve learned to fake it to a certain extent, though my ability to do is limited based on how I’m feeling and how long I’m expected to do so. I’m happily married to a husband who supports my weirdness and does his best to help me, I’m the mother of a wonderful little guy, and I enjoy working part time at a fabric store. The only reason I’d be interested in diagnosis would be to understand myself better. Any advice you could give would be most appreciated.
Quite a few of the women around here have married and had kids. And a lot of them have stories similar to yours. 🙂
Since you’re not quite sold on it yet, my advice would be to read up on Asperger’s and autism some more before you start setting up an appointment. And also take a few lists of female Asperger’s traits with you to your appointment in case your professional isn’t familiar with female autism. Some of the most recommended books are Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood, Aspergirls by Rudy Simone, AspienGirl by Tania Marshall, and of course the books here by Mrs. Kim as well. Her “I Think I Might Be Autistic” was my first book.
Thank you! It’s not so much that I’m not sold on the possibility as, it’s so obvious but I’m in denial. I was in denial about my son’s ASD for a long time too. Some internalized ableism, perhaps, like “autistic people are something totally different, my son can’t possibly be autistic.” I’m glad I don’t think that way anymore. I’ll check out those books. Actually, I literally checked out that Tony Attwood book from the library last week 😀
You’re welcome. 🙂
Aye, so many resources and media examples are so bleak and depressing or strictly focused on the most extreme cases that it really does make it more awkward for those of us who aren’t that deep into the spectrum. For a while I decided I was too weird to be normal and too normal to be weird. Hee, I still feel that way most days! 😛
Do you think it’d be worthwhile to explore a diagnosis? Like I said, I hadn’t really considered it until scoring so highly on those tests. I read somewhere (maybe even this website?) that self-diagnosis is OK as long as it’s done seriously. All the pros of formal diagnosis, like getting services, don’t really apply to me. The pros of self-diagnosis, like understanding myself better, do apply. So I’m kinda confused about how to proceed.
A lot of people discovering later in life the possibility of being on the spectrum found great comfort, relief, confidence, and peace of mind through receiving external validation through a formal diagnosis, even those who knew in their heart they were autistic and didn’t have a drop of doubt about it. Kind of like how some folks take relief in hearing the weatherman say the storms have gone away even though they can see clear skies themselves. If you feel that a formal diagnosis would bring good feelings to you, I say go for it. Some say there is a 40% chance of getting misdiagnosed, so don’t be discouraged if you have somebody says you’re not autistic if you know you are.
I personally don’t have a formal diagnosis and have very little interest in an autism diagnosis. It makes me feel like a sneaky little ninja to be self-diagnosed. 😛
My goal is getting my sensory processing disorder diagnosed so I can find a dentist that won’t be rude and insulting when I tell them fluoride makes me sick, among a bunch of other hypersensitivities I deal with.
“Some say there is a 40% chance of getting misdiagnosed, so don’t be discouraged if you have somebody says you’re not autistic if you know you are.”
My first attempt at getting a diagnosis was in my mid-forties. I was told that I was too social and couldn’t possibly be on the spectrum, and was instead diagnosed with, in her words, “The worst case of Adult ADD I have ever seen.”
Finally received my appropriate diagnosis this year, at nearly 57 years old.
Yikes… And AD(H)D is the most common thing to be misdiagnosed with, if I remember correctly. I’m glad you finally got the correct evaluation. 🙂
Hi, I just wanted to thank you for this article (and the comments have been helpful as well). I came here to get a better understanding of the RAADS-R which I just took last month in a clinical setting. I had suspected that I was on the spectrum for a while now ever since I saw a documentary featuring Temple Grandin. Turns out I scored 148. I also found the questions to be somewhat vague and I asked the administrator if I could just jot notes in the margin when I encountered a question which I found to be a little too open ended. He was cool with it and it felt empowering. I can attest that as a person who suspected the diagnosis, actually receiving an official clinical verification has been overwhelmingly comforting and empowering. All my life (46 yo) I have been aware of serious differences and this at least puts pieces of the puzzle together for me.
I am so thrilled to learn the RAADS R was helpful to you. I co created it in hopes that it will assist persons like yourself. I agree that some of the questions are imperfect and difficult to answer and perhaps vague but this was our best try and it is free :). Carry on..
Dr. Ariella Riva Ritvo ( Ari)
So I scored 146, and went for testing twice over the course of 4 years, and was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder (which I agree with as my primary diagnosis, as I had symptoms of it that pretty much aren’t present in people who aren’t on the SZ-spectrum, though my disorganized and positive symptoms are pretty much all gone now). Since in the old days of the DSM-IV-TR, it was stated that you couldn’t have both schizophrenia/schizoaffective and autism/aspergers, they just took my fixations and sensory symptoms and shoved them into the “negative symptoms of schizophrenia” category. I just kind of wonder… how would people who are on the schizophrenia spectrum do on this kind of test? Should there be a way that a person (like me) can be diagnosed with both an SZ disorder and autism?
I took the test. I prefer this one. I was Googling tonight to see what explanations there could be to the auditory processing problems and language deficits I have. When I took the test I score around 73 or 76 which I guess is on the bottom of possible ASD. The only area I scored even lower than the control group was I think a 9 on Circumscribed Interests. I do now that I suffer from severe PTSD and Depression. I wonder how things could be addressed in context with everything. And as far as Circumscribed Interests I am not sure its meaning exactly. I just know all my life I have pushed myself considerably to not be limited by the problems I have had. As far as looking into it more, I don’t think so. I have tried for twenty years to bring attention to the person who hurt me and my friend, and none of the professionals or agencies were ever very responsive. I just get by. This was very useful. I have a Blog mostly for my friend. It gives me something to do. I will come back and read more soon. It is useful to understand what others experience and deal with in their lifes. I have suffered a lot in my life, but I would not ever have wanted to distract myself like I see so many do from how I see life to really be.
Thank you for all the work you have put into this. From just this little time here it is very impressive.
I scored as a NT but my language was a 7 and the average is 4. What does that mean???
According to the chart, NT males score an average of 6.5 in language. Four is the threshold for language for suspected ASD, meaning without a deficit of at least that, you would not meet the criteria for DX, at least in that category.
I’m about to be 22 and always knew that there was something wrong with me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Throughout the school year I’ve been meeting with a counselor and psychiatrist to try to gain a better understanding of what that “off-ness” might be. Finally ended taking this test per the recommendation of my psychiatrist and I scored a 203! Seems to be much higher than the average person in the comments.
Some of these questions really hit me and I didn’t realize until now that these things I do are unusual. One such example was a question asking if I memorize lots of useless information such as dates, stats, and things like that. Turns out I do quite a bit (I know an extreme amount about world war 2, but this knowledge has no practical use, especially since I’m majoring in finance)! For example, I could tell you precisely what I was doing on Wednesday, December 21st, 2005 down to the last detail (the exact time down to the minute, the weather, what I was wearing, the exact location where I was standing within 5 feet, etc.). Now I kind of understand why I memorize such useless information.
Taking this test allowed me to now understand practically every failed social interaction in my entire life (Which is kind of depressing in itself). Not only that, now knowing that I have Asperger’s lets me know why I’m also so depressed and anxious.
During this school year I made it my objective to learn more about what makes me tick and to become more social. I will not speak unless spoken to or forced into dialogue. Anyhow, kind of struggling with finding ways to integrate into social situations. For example, today I went to a club meeting on campus (I had never been before) and simply sitting there on the side of the room with 20 people I did not know nearly gave me a panic attack. I need to find better ways to deal with this. Please let me know of any!
At any rate, excellent website and helpful comments. I never expected that anybody had the same problems that I do, for I’ve never met or spoken to someone else with Asperger’s (probably because I do not approach people).
I’m 57 and just got my DX a few months ago, though I took various tests, I wasn’t given this. I scored overall at 178, with language at 12, social at 85, sensory/motor came to 44, and I got 37 for circumscribed interests. I’m having a bit of difficulty interpreting the subscores – because I scored lowest (12) in language, is that my greatest strength?
Thank you for this post on this test. I am a 23-year-old female and was recently assessed/ received results. I’ve had a lot of mental health problems since I was a teenager and have been having difficulties getting through college. I learned about female traits of Aspergers about 6 months ago and I had that ‘clicking’ moment and decided to pursue more information. I decided to become assessed at a university near me. I’ve taken the Ritvo test, among many others and scored above the threshold. However, like many of the folks in the comments, I have a hard time/ was confused about what they were asking while answering the questions, so I just answered the best I could. When I was tested, the Ritvo Test was like a homework assignment that the therapist sent me home to do it and I didn’t realize that I could ask for clarification on some of the questions, (I feel bad/ dumb about this now) so I answered as best I could. In addition, I typed up/printed a packet of female aspie traits with personal examples just to help with the process and provide more info. When given the results the clinicians told me that I was definitely not on the spectrum, although I do have some traits like circumscribed interests and social difficulties/ relatedness and they gave me an informal diagnosis of schizotypal personality disorder. This was a little bit confusing and I had scored just a little bit below the average score for females with ASD for the Ritvo test. They never brought up the info I had typed for them which described a lot of things from my childhood and it felt like maybe they weren’t describing the whole picture. But what was most upsetting was that the therapist who tested me stated that I was ” very eloquent, coherent, very intelligent, and had empathy” and so I could not have AS. I felt like they were only basing their views of AS off of a stereotype and did not consider the information I was giving them- only the results of the test which were not sufficient enough. I am not sure whether I should just accept this diagnosis of schizotypal or get another opinion. AS makes a lot of sense to me, though it is hard to be taken seriously by psychiatrists, psychologists when I bring it up. Some members of my family suspect it ( although they aren’t experts, I take their opinion to heart because they’ve known me my whole life, and that I’ve struggled a lot). Sorry that this comment has turned into a long rant. I appreciate this post and all of the wonderful folks on here who make me feel less alone through all of this, and less confused. Thanks for sharing all of your experiences. It has been confusing trying to figure myself out for so long, and frustrating going through the process to try to get the help I need. If you read this far…you’re awesome! Thanks again.
This conversation seems a little old but I wanted to mention that on the questions where I felt a “sometimes” was necessary I just answered with “only in childhood” or “only present now” depending on strongly I felt the sometimes applied. Maybe this messed up my score but I think that I was rather ingenious. 😉 FWIW, my score was 130
I just took the test, and my total score was 157.0.
15.0 for language, 77.0 for social relatedness, 39.0 for sensory/motor, and 26.0 for circumscribed interests.
I scored a 165.0 on the RAAD scale.
My score is 215.0
Social relatedness: 104.0
Sensory/ Motor: 51.0
Circumscribed interests: 39.0
I do not know if I have HFA or not, but the graph shows that not too many neurotypicals score this high.
As you comment there are some questions that are hard to answer. I found this in a Swedish research rapport about RAADS-80 (my translation):
“It was noted that many within the ASD Group, but allmost no one in the controll group, had written comments like “it depends”, “don’t know what the question asks” and so on in Connections with missing or multiple answers to a question, which implies a difficulty to take a stand as a reasons for loss of responses”
My thought is that people on the spectrum has trouble to answer the questions and say “it depends” while the NT in generellt just blows through them. So if you think that the questions are hard; that may be a sign in it self that you are autistic.
Here’s a link to the Swedish rapport if anyone wants to do a google translation of it:
“Validering av RAADS, svensk version: ett diagnostiskt självskattningsinstrument för vuxna med misstänkt autismspektrumtillstånd”
I had real trouble with most of them, actually to the point where i thought i should just stop because it was simply too confusing and exhausting. Some of the questions were just alien in structure to me.
And I was very frustrated by the choices i had, they felt extremely restrictive, give me more options.
Like the going out to eat with people or alone. I don’t eat outside at all, and like to eat by myself, but if i had to eat outside i would rather it be with the one person i am comfortable with, but nobody else…it depends, made so many questions almost impossible for me to answer.
I found the question about keeping lists of special interests a bit weird and hard to answer. I don’t keep lists, but I keep things with me that represent my special interests. I carry a folder around with me that contains articles I’ve printed on a specific topic, so I can always read and reread the articles in my spare time. I don’t know if they meant “lists” literally or what.
I took this test and have never been tested or diagnosed for ASD, and my score came out as 141.
I scored over 190. And at the time several hundred thousand had taken the test.
Some of the questions made me really frustrated and I had to think for a long time and even ask my husband of his interpretation, but he had trouble too. But I did my best. I have issues with all the online tests I have done, but this was, despite the lengthy time it took me, was pretty well constructed I think.
It seemed way more clinical and it dealt with things i have not encountered in other online tests.