- Are There Tests for Asperger’s Syndrome?
- Making a Diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome
- Why Testing is Important to Your Child
- Understanding Asperger’s Symptoms in Adults
- Asperger’s Test: The First Step To Diagnosis
- What Type Of Test Is Right For You?
- What Is Asperger’s Syndrome?
- Asperger’s Traits and Symptoms
- Online Asperger’s Tests and Quizzes
- BetterHelp Can Help
- Asperger/Autism Spectrum Diagnosis in Adults
- Initial Discovery
- Choosing not to seek diagnosis
- Working with a professional
- How do you get a “formal” diagnosis of Asperger/Autism spectrum difference (ASD)?
- The variability of diagnosis
- Is it ever too late to discover an Asperger profile or to seek a diagnosis?
- Young adults may use this self-knowledge to improve their college experience by:
- In middle adulthood, individuals may use the information to:
- In late adulthood, individuals may use the information to:
- Regardless of age, individuals may use the information to:
- For family, friends, and co-workers:
- How do I tell an adult that they may have an Asperger profile?
- Common responses to this information may include:
- What to know about Asperger’s syndrome
Are There Tests for Asperger’s Syndrome?
Related: 10 Things Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About an MRI
Making a Diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome
Your healthcare provider will probably use a variety of tools and tests to assess your condition.
Additionally, most professionals refer to the criteria listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) DSM-5 to make an official diagnosis.
The newest version of the manual states that an individual with Asperger’s should be given a diagnosis of “autism spectrum disorder.” Those who have deficits in social communication, but no other categories, should be evaluated for social (pragmatic) communication disorder. (11)
Many parents may find it frustrating that the APA no longer recognizes Asperger’s as a separate disorder, but this change doesn’t mean your child can’t receive effective treatment for his or her condition.
Why Testing is Important to Your Child
Getting an Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis can be a challenging ordeal. Kids with Asperger’s are often misdiagnosed as having other conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some are overlooked, altogether.
That’s why testing tools are vital for helping doctors make an accurate analysis. They can give professionals a clear and in-depth look at your child’s condition.
An accurate diagnosis can ensure kids receive prompt and helpful treatment. Research shows therapies that involve early intervention can help improve many symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. (12)
Understanding Asperger’s Symptoms in Adults
Most adults with AS have few cognitive or language skill delays. In fact, you may have above-average intelligence. However, adults with AS may experience other symptoms. Many of these can significantly affect daily life.
No two people experience AS in quite the same way. You may have only a few of these symptoms, or you may experience all of them at different times.
Symptoms of high-functioning ASD in adults can be divided into three areas:
Emotional and behavioral symptoms
- Repetitive behaviors. Engaging in repetitive behavior is a common symptom of ASD. This may include doing the same thing every morning before work, spinning something a certain number of times, or opening a door a certain way. Just because you engage in this type of behavior does not mean that you have AS — other disorders can result in these behaviors, as well.
- Inability to understand emotional issues. People with AS may have difficulties when asked to interpret social or emotional issues, such as grief or frustration. Nonliteral problems — that is, things that cannot be seen — may evade your logical ways of thinking.
- First-person focus. Adults with AS may struggle to see the world from another person’s perspective. You may have a hard time reacting to actions, words, and behaviors with empathy or concern.
- Exaggerated emotional response. While not always intentional, adults with AS may struggle to cope with emotional situations, feelings of frustration, or changes in pattern. This may lead to emotional outbursts.
- Abnormal response to sensory stimuli. This can be hypersensitivity (over-sensitivity) or hyposensitivity (under-sensitivity) to sensations. Examples include excessively touching people or objects, preferring to be in the dark, or deliberately smelling objects.
- Social difficulties. People with AS may struggle with social interactions. You may not be able to carry on “small talk” conversations.
- Speech difficulties. It’s not unusual for adults with AS to have “stiff” (sometimes referred to as “robotic”) or repetitive speech. You may also have difficulties moderating your voice for environments. For example, you may not lower your voice in a church or library.
- Exceptional verbal skills. Adults with AS may have typical to strong verbal skills. This may translate to greater vocabulary skills, especially in areas of interest.
- Below-average nonverbal skills. Adults with AS may not pick up on nonverbal cues from others, such as hand gestures, facial expressions, or body language.
- Lack of eye contact. When talking to another person, you may not make eye contact.
- Clumsiness. Motor coordination difficulties are significantly more common in adults with ASD. These motor skill issues may show up as difficulty performing tasks like sitting or walking correctly. Fine motor skills like tying shoes or opening an envelope, may also be affected.
- Obsession. It’s not uncommon for people to have hyperfocus as a symptom of AS. It’s usually toward a specific topic. They may have a deep understanding and vast vocabulary related to this topic. They may also insist on talking about it when engaging with others.
Individuals with AS may also experience symptoms that can be considered beneficial or helpful.
For example, as noted above, adults with AS often have a remarkable ability to focus. You may be able to concentrate on an issue or problem, especially if it interests you, for long periods of time.
Likewise, your attention to detail may make you incredibly successful at problem solving.
Asperger’s Test: The First Step To Diagnosis
By Michael Puskar
Updated January 30, 2020
Reviewer Karen Devlin, LPC
Knowing whether or not you or someone you know has Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) might be worrisome, especially for the parents of a child; however, it is important to understand that those diagnosed with this condition can still function well and live completely normal, healthy lives. Furthermore, there are a variety of treatments, which can help an individual achieve further positive results. To reach a diagnosis for AS, a test is typically performed in order to assess individuals suspected of having this condition. In this article, you will learn about what these tests entail and what to do if a score indicates that you or someone who know has this condition.
If You Feel Like Your Child Might Have Asperger’s, Get More Information Here Need Support? Get Connected With A Licensed Therapist Today
Source: jannoon028 via freepik.com
What Type Of Test Is Right For You?
Not every test is a formal indicator that a person has AS or any other form of autism, but they are still used by mental health professionals for screening purposes before completing a formal examination. Some online tests are reputable and are also used by doctors; these are accessible to the general public in order to help them to get an idea of whether or not a person has the condition and should seek further assistance and, possibly, a diagnosis.
One of these assessments is the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ), which was developed by a prominent autism researcher from Cambridge University- Simon Baron-Cohen. As you read further, you will learn about the AQ and other options.
Because it has become easier to diagnose autism spectrum disorders by identifying the signs and using standardized tests, more people are known to have a condition than ever before, and while this might add stress and worry to parents, there are more resources and treatments than there were in the past.
Not only have treatment strategies improved, due to increased diagnoses and research, but parents and guardians of someone with AS, or any other related condition, can connect with each other and share advice on how to be more accommodating to someone who may be on the spectrum.
While it can be nerve-wracking to visit a doctor and receive the diagnosis, it is a necessary step to receiving the right course of treatment, and it is important to note that countless patients have gone through this process and are developing the skills they need to achieve success.
What Is Asperger’s Syndrome?
Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), also known as High Functioning Autism, is an autism spectrum disorder that mainly presents itself in social situations. People with AS typically lack some degree of social development and might struggle to identify verbal and physical cues as well as someone who does not have the condition. Growing up, people with AS enjoy rules and having set routines, and they are usually resistant to change.
Individuals with AS are high-functioning and do not suffer from many of the developmental problems that are usually associated with other diagnoses on the autism spectrum. A person with Asperger’s may be of average, or even exceptional, intelligence. Many individuals with Asperger’s go into highly specified fields, such as engineering. To someone who might not be aware that a person they know has Asperger’s, they might just think that a person with AS seems introverted or “different.”
Estimates on the prevalence of AS vary widely, but one meta-analysis found that the range was about 1 to 5 per 1,000 people. Studies have also found that there is a higher incidence of AS in males than females. For people who think that they might have Asperger’s, there are many online tests and resources that can help them learn more.
Symptoms of individuals with AS generally improve as the patient gets older and, if needed, they may receive various treatments to deal with their symptoms. The positive thing to know is that many people diagnosed with AS can work, get married, have children, and lead normal, happy lives.
Asperger’s Traits and Symptoms
The word “symptom” may have a negative connotation, but individuals with Asperger’s and other autism spectrum disorders have characteristics that are part of who they are, and are not negative symptoms. On the other hand, some things experienced by a patient with AS can be considered symptoms in the traditional sense, specifically things that negatively impact their functioning in day-to-day life. Many of these symptoms improve in adulthood because individuals learn different coping mechanisms to deal with them. The following is a list of traits and symptoms commonly associated with AS:
- Attention to detail and focused interests
- Introverted and creative
- Do not follow social norms
- Focus on rules
- Normal or above normal intelligence
- Normal language and intellectual development in childhood
- Significant difficulty in social situations and trouble “reading” other people’s behavior
- Sensitive to overstimulation
- Delayed motor development
- Robotic speech
- Repetitive behavior
- Can become withdrawn or isolated, especially as teens
- People with AS may also suffer from depression and/or anxiety
- Tendency to stare or avoid eye contact
- Dislike changes in routine
- Do not pick up on subtle changes in tone of voice, don’t get sarcasm
Asperger’s Test for Adults
There are many Asperger’s tests, quizzes, and resources available online for adults who think that they or someone they know might have Asperger’s. Since children with Asperger’s have relatively normal development, it is totally possible for an adult to have Asperger’s and not be aware of it.
Previous studies suggest that it is possible for adults to have qualities of people on the spectrum and never seek diagnosis or treatment, due to the fact that their traits or symptoms are too few and/or do not interfere with their lives.
Asperger’s Test for Children
There are specific symptoms or warning signs of AS that are more apparent when a person is younger. For example, parents who find that their child lacks empathy, is not interested in sharing emotions or discoveries with other people, and gets very focused on rules and routines might want to consider the possibility that their child has Asperger’s.
Parents can seek out the help of a professional to find out what treatment options are best for their child. As a child with AS grows up, they will need support to become more self-aware and comfortable in social settings. There are many resources available, and education is provided for families with a child or children on the autism spectrum.
Autism Speaks has a Websites for Families page that lists a wide variety of resources and support groups.
If You Feel Like Your Child Might Have Asperger’s, Get More Information Here Need Support? Get Connected With A Licensed Therapist Today
Source: canva.com One Design Use License
Online Asperger’s Tests and Quizzes
Online Asperger’s tests and quizzes are easy to find and take, like this one developed by the Cambridge Autism Research Center. This test has proven to be an effective screening tool for both adults who feel they may have AS and parents taking the exam on behalf of their children.
Another alternative is PsychCentral’s Autism/Asperger’s Quiz. This quiz is another online tool that can help you determine if you or someone you know should see a professional for an official AS diagnosis and treatment options.
The Autism Research Center has provided a list of different screening tools and tests designed to pinpoint patients with AS or other disorders on the autism spectrum. While these tests can help a person understand what symptoms professionals look for when diagnosing AS, they don’t automatically provide a score and might be hard for a layperson to understand.
If You Get a Positive Asperger’s Test Score… What Comes Next?
Let’s say you have done a little bit of research. You have taken an online Asperger’s test and are almost certain that you or someone you know has AS.
If this is the case, and you believe that undiagnosed Asperger’s is affecting your life, you may want to see a professional for diagnosis and treatment options. If you are concerned for someone else you know well, you can (gently) share your concerns and encourage them to take advantage of the resources that are available to them.
There are several different types of health care and mental health practitioners who can help patients manage AS, such as psychologists, neurologists, psychiatrists, and pediatricians. There is no cure for Asperger’s Syndrome, as stated in this Healthline post, but there are several treatment options. These include:
1. Medications: There are many medications, such as SSRIs, antipsychotics, and stimulants, that can be taken to control various AS symptoms. Unfortunately, there are no approved medications that treat Asperger’s or Autism specifically.
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: One case study, conducted by Dougal Julian Hare (1997), found that CBT was an effective treatment for a male patient diagnosed with AS, severe depression, and self-harming behaviors. CBT has been found effective in reducing anxiety in patients with AS, because it helps them become more aware of their thought patterns and how those thoughts influence their behavior.
3. Social Skills Training: Social skills training is a popular treatment for children, teens, and adults with AS. Many of the problems associated with AS come from poor social skills, since people with AS often miss important social cues. This in turn can lead to social blunders and misunderstandings. Teaching patients with AS to tune in on some of these things can make a big difference in their ability to interact with their peers without running into these types of issues.
4. Physical Therapy: Previous research has shown that people with AS could use physical therapy to improve their motor coordination and sensory integration. Study authors suggest that physical therapy should be part of a wider strategy to treat and educate patients and their families and that physical therapy can help improve the patient’s standard of living.
5. Speech Therapy: Speech therapy is another method that can help patients with AS manage their symptoms. For example, speech and language therapy can be used to help correct monotone speech and help the patient understand other people’s speech and nonverbal communication better.
BetterHelp Can Help
BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that matches counselors with patients in a way that fits the professional’s experience to the patient’s unique needs. Patients who are struggling to live a fulfilling life with AS can turn to a counselor for help with insight into their thoughts and behavior, as well as coping mechanisms to use in daily life.
The great thing about this affordable online therapy is that it can be used via the web or a mobile device, and your therapist can be messaged at any time. Read some of the reviews below to see what others are saying about BetterHelp’s services.
“Brandon is a smart, compassionate therapist. Recently, he has been challenging my beliefs more often and I need that. I need to see when I am operating with cognitive distortions. His empathy and understanding of complex trauma have helped me tremendously. I’m so grateful he is a part of my journey!”
“I love that Dr. Bermudez is a neuropsychology researcher. Having studied a variety of philosophies and techniques, her recommendations are based on evidence and studied practices. I trust that I will always get the greatest and latest, the tested and true.”https://www.betterhelp.com/christin-bermudez/#testimonials
Once Asperger’s or another autism spectrum disorder is suspected, the next step is to seek out diagnosis and treatment options, especially if symptoms are interfering with daily life. There are many different options available, from medication to control anxiety and depression, to therapy and social skills training to help patients better navigate social settings. You can take the first step here.
Asperger/Autism Spectrum Diagnosis in Adults
Many adults with an Asperger profile stumble upon the description of Asperger Syndrome or Autism Spectrum. They may read about it or be told by a family member or friend about the profile. Some may believe that the information matches their history and their current situation and, as a result, may self-diagnose. Others are not so welcoming of the diagnosis and do not choose to identify with the label. Sometimes family members suspect that their adult child, spouse, or sibling may have an Asperger profile and wonder how to tell them about it.
Professionals, even some who have had long-term relationships with their clients, may realize for the first time that the traits their client is exhibiting are best described as an Asperger profile or Autism spectrum difference. A professional may be uncertain of the diagnosis, however, if Asperger/Autism spectrum is outside his or her area of expertise.
After the question of an Asperger profile is initially raised, many adults and their family members wonder, “Should I pursue a ‘formal diagnosis’?”
Choosing not to seek diagnosis
Many individuals choose to conduct their own research through books, the internet, and through support and information organizations (like AANE). Independent exploration can provide sufficient answers and confirmation that an Asperger profile accounts for challenges faced and talents possessed. Some individuals do not find that getting an official diagnosis is necessary.
Working with a professional
There are numerous reasons as to why someone might seek a formal diagnosis. For some, it can offer a clear avenue for communicating their strengths and struggles to friends and families. For others, it can open the door for needed supports:
- Formal diagnosis is necessary if one wants to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
- A diagnosis is needed to request reasonable accommodations for employment under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). See Adult Life Planning and Employment for more information.
How do you get a “formal” diagnosis of Asperger/Autism spectrum difference (ASD)?
Many individuals pursue neuropsychological testing with a neuropsychologist (PhD) or a psychiatrist (MD). As a result of this testing, it may be determined that the individual has ASD, something related to ASD, or something different. This will give a fairly full picture of strengths and challenges and of how one’s brain processes information.
The clinician will usually ask questions about your behavioral history, make behavioral observations, and administer various paper-and-pencil or computer-based tests to evaluate a range of cognitive, linguistic, and communicational abilities. When you go to see the clinician, be sure to bring with you any previous testing or other written records of past behaviors that stand out in your life. It is also a good idea to bring along a friend or family member who can provide additional perspective.
Any professional with the credentials and expertise to diagnose any other condition may also make a diagnosis of ASD. Such professionals may be social workers (MSW), master’s level psychologists (MA), or other mental health professionals.
Neuropsychological testing is not required to get a “formal” diagnosis. To apply for SSI there must be written documentation in the record from a medical doctor or Ph.D level psychologist that there is some type of a psychological issue (not necessarily Asperger/Autism). There is no requirement of psychological testing. Specific issues regarding inability to work may be described by other clinicians.
The variability of diagnosis
Keep in mind that the Asperger/Autism Spectrum diagnosis is not an absolute and fixed category of traits and characteristics. Everyone with this profile looks different and therefore the boundaries around this characterization can be challenging to define.
Historically, professionals have not even agreed on the constellation of attributes that define Asperger Syndrome and/or ASD. Asperger Syndrome was not a formal diagnosis until 1994. Asperger Syndrome has since been subsumed under the formal diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. We have yet to see how the categories will shift in the future.
Fewer females than males receive diagnoses of AS or ASD. This could be because professionals are still learning to recognize the profile as it is expressed in girls and women.
Because many adults have adapted strategies to navigate a predominantly neurotypical world, their differences might be less easy to identify than those of children which may result in fewer adults receiving an official diagnosis.
Is it ever too late to discover an Asperger profile or to seek a diagnosis?
Never. It is never too late for an individual to increase self-awareness in order to capitalize on strengths and work around areas of challenge. Knowing about the Asperger/Autism Spectrum diagnosis gives the individual an explanation, not an excuse, for why his or her life has taken the twists and turns that it has. What one does with this information at the ages of 20, 50, or 70 may differ, but in all cases it can still offer great value and improve quality of life.
Young adults may use this self-knowledge to improve their college experience by:
- Choosing a single room to decrease social and sensory demands and to ensure a safe haven.
- Taking classes part-time (to account for executive functioning/organizational challenges).
- Possibly living at home (to minimize the number of changes to adjust to all at once).
- Joining interest-based groups (so that socializing has a purpose).
- Choosing careers that match interests and abilities.
- Requesting reasonable accommodations at school and/or at work.
In middle adulthood, individuals may use the information to:
- Do a life review, understand why careers and relationships have or have not been successful.
- Improve on relationships or pursue better matches.
- Ask for accommodations at work, or to pursue work that is more fitting.
In late adulthood, individuals may use the information to:
- Do a life review.
- Renew and/or repair relationships affected by an Asperger profile.
- Customize their environment in order to be comfortable and accommodating to the strengths and challenges of the Asperger profile.
Regardless of age, individuals may use the information to:
- Find people who share similar interests.
- Find other people with Asperger profiles with whom to compare notes (in-person or online).
- Consider disclosure to family, friends, and/or co-workers.
- Work differently with helping professionals (by shifting the emphasis to concrete coaching help, building of life skills vs. insight-oriented therapy).
For family, friends, and co-workers:
“If I know someone who I think has an Asperger profile, should I tell?”
YES! At AANE, our bias is that it is better to know than not to know. If you have Asperger profile and don’t know, it affects you anyway; if you do know, you may be able to minimize the negative impact and leverage the positive.
Without the knowledge that one has an Asperger profile, one often fills that void with other, more damaging explanations such as being a failure, being weird, being a disappointment, or not living up to one’s potential.
How do I tell an adult that they may have an Asperger profile?
- Lead with strengths! Most people with an Asperger profile have significant areas of strength (even if these have not been translatable into tangible successes).
- Next, point out the areas in which they are struggling.
- Then, suggest to them that there is a name for that confusing combination of strengths and challenges, and it may be an Asperger profile. You may lead them to AANE or other resources for further information. Provide support along the way.
Read more about Disclosing to an Adult
Common responses to this information may include:
RELIEF: “I’ve always known there was something different about me!”
ANGER: “How come no one ever told me before? I’ve lost so much time and opportunity not knowing!”
DENIAL: “I don’t have that.”
TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE: “If that’s me, it’s you, too!”
Keep in mind that incorporating an Asperger profile into one’s identity is often an ongoing process of self-discovery and understanding that can be fraught with a range of emotions. This journey can be facilitated through non-judgmental and kind support.
What to know about Asperger’s syndrome
An accurate diagnosis can lead to a better understanding of the challenges the person is facing, and it may enable the individual to access appropriate support.
A range of therapies can help the person to adapt their behavior for a better social outcome, and to deal with anxiety. This can reduce the risk of social isolation.
Training may include:
Share on PinterestHollywood actor Dan Aykroyd, pictured here on Canada’s Walk of Fame, was vocal about his diagnosis with Asperger’s syndrome.
Image credit: Tabercil, 2009
Education and academic skills: A child who receives a diagnosis of AS can benefit from educational support. Aims can include organizing notes, managing homework goals, and addressing any specific learning needs. Most children with AS are best suited to a mainstream school environment.
Acquiring appropriate social skills: The individual can learn strategies to enhance their interactions with others, for example, by learning how to read and respond to social cues.
Communication skills training: Specialized speech and language therapy can help the person learning how to start and maintain a conversation, for example.
This also includes learning how to use tone of voice in questions, confirmations, disagreements and instructions, and how to interpret and respond to verbal and non-verbal cues.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): The person learns to control emotions and decrease obsessive interests and repetitive routines.
Behavior modification: This includes strategies for supporting positive behavior and decreasing ineffective behavior.
Occupational or physical therapy: This can help those with sensory integration problems or poor motor coordination.
Medication: There are no medications for AS, but drugs may be used to treat symptoms such as anxiety.
Alternative medicine: Some studies suggest that special diets, such as gluten-free diets and vitamin supplements, can be beneficial. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a regular intake of fish oils may help with anxiety and some cognitive issues.
A review of studies into alternative therapies for ASD, published in 2015, found that, according to anecdotal evidence, music therapy, sensory integration therapy, acupuncture, and massage may help.
However, the authors conclude, “There is no conclusive evidence supporting the efficacy of therapies in ASD.”
The role of supporting caregivers
Parents and other caregivers may benefit from learning experiences that help them gain a deeper understanding of AS.
By learning some strategies, they can become better placed to support a dependent loved one with AS, and prevent them from feeling isolated.
A person with AS can often cope with change if they know it is coming, and if it is planned. Family and other support networks can help the person prepare for change when appropriate.
If parents believe that their child may have symptoms of AS, it is important to communicate with the child’s school, because educational institutions can offer learning support.
The core characteristics of AS are lifelong, but additional support can help the individual maximize their achievements and quality of life.