A few weeks ago I took the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) test. In the comments on that post, Nat who you can find on Twitter at @quarridors, mentioned that there is shorter version–the AQ-10. This week for Take-a-Test Tuesday, I took the AQ-10. If you’ve taken both the AQ and the AQ-10, check out my note at the bottom of this post.
The AQ-10 is a condensed (10 question) version of the AQ test. It’s relatively new, and was developed based on a 2011 study involving 1000 people with ASD and 3000 neurotypical controls.
Though the AQ-10 is much shorter than the AQ, according to the 2011 study, it has a similar predictive power. There are some concerns about the AQ-10 study–like the original AQ study, it consisted almost entirely of adults with Asperger’s Syndrome, making it hard to generalize the usefulness of the AQ or AQ-10 for autistic adults who aren’t aspies. There is also a gender disparity in the groups, with about 60% of the control group members being female and about 54% of the ASD group members being male.
The AQ-10 is used as a screening tool for adults in the UK, to identify people who may benefit from receiving a comprehensive autism assessment. The developers of the AQ-10 have emphasized the greater practicality of a 10-question screening test, which can easily be completed as part of typically brief primary care doctor visits.
Like the AQ, the questions on the AQ-10 are drawn equally (2 questions each) from five domains:
- attention to detail
- attention switching
It’s interesting to note that the 10 questions with the best predictive value on the short versions of the AQ for adults, adolescents and children were all the same except for one. The developers of the test point to this as evidence that autistic traits are relatively stable across a person’s lifespan. Think about that for a moment.
Pros and Cons of the AQ-10
- Very brief (10 questions)
- Clinically tested
- Has similar predictive properties as the 50-item AQ
- Adult and child versions are available
- Requires manual scoring
- Limited number and type of questions
- Lack of subscale scores
Taking the Test
You have to take this one the old-fashioned way, with a pencil and paper. You can find the test in PDF format here but for ease of use (and because there is no automated scoring version available online), I’m going to include the 10 questions in this post as well.
For each of the questions below, choose one of these answers: definitely agree, slightly agree, slightly disagree, definitely disagree:
1. I often notice small sounds when others do not.
2. I usually concentrate more on the whole picture, rather than the small details.
3. I find it easy to do more than one thing at once.
4. If there is an interruption, I can switch back to what I was doing very quickly.
5. I find it easy to ‘read between the lines’ when someone is talking to me.
6. I know how to tell if someone listening to me is getting bored.
7. When I’m reading a story I find it difficult to work out the characters’ intentions.
8. I like to collect information about categories of things (e.g. types of car, types of bird, types of train, types of plant, etc).
9. I find it easy to work out what someone is thinking or feeling just by looking at their face.
10. I find it difficult to work out people’s intentions.
Don’t worry too much about the definitely or slightly designations. Scoring is based on whether you agree or disagree, not on how strongly you feel.
Scoring the Test
Use the following to score your answers (“definitely” or “slightly” get the same score so just focus on whether you agreed or disagreed for scoring purposes):
Question 1: agree=1 point, disagree=0 points
Question 2: agree=0 points, disagree=1 point
Question 3: agree=0, disagree=1
Question 4: agree=0, disagree=1
Question 5:agree=0, disagree=1
Question 6: agree=0, disagree=1
Question 7: agree=1, disagree=0
Question 8: agree=1, disagree=0
Question 9: agree=0, disagree=1
Question 10: agree=1, disagree=0
Phew! Okay, now you should have a number between 0 and 10. The cutoff score is 6. If you score 6 or higher, the doctor in the UK who administered this would then consider recommending you for a full autism evaluation.
One of the things I see over and over in the literature about the AQ is that patients should be referred for an evaluation if they score above the cutoff and are suffering some distress. So if you score above the cutoff and are not distressed by your symptoms, I guess you can go on your merry way.
I scored an 8 (which is very much in line with my 41/50 on the AQ).
The Bottom Line
This is a relatively new, self-report screening instrument.
If you took both the AQ and AQ-10 did you find that your scores were similar?* Did you score significantly higher (or lower) on one than the other? Did anyone score above the cutoff of 6 on the AQ-10 but below the cutoff of 32 on the AQ?
*A quick way to compare your scores is to convert them to a percentage. For example, I got 41/50 on the AQ, which is 82% (41 divided by 50 = .82). I got 8/10 on the AQ-10, which is 80%.