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Mooncat

AQ-10

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Mooncat

I have got an appointment with a doctor tomorrow to discuss my referral for an ASD assessment. For the appointment I have been asked to fill in the AQ-10, and from what I gather you only get put forward for assessment if you get 6 or more points on the AQ-10. I find the questions on the AQ-10 quite difficult to answer, and I'm scared of messing up and not getting assessed just because I didn't get quite what the question was asking. I'm not sure I do get as high as 6 points (I get about 5, but as I said I struggle to definitively answer some of the questions), and I was wondering whether anyone else has taken the AQ-10 and what they thought? I feel like it doesn't capture a lot of the specific AS-like traits that I do have, so I don't know whether my lowish score is because I don't actually have AS, or because the questionnaire is bad for diagnosing women with AS. It asks lots of questions about how easily I can read other people, and this is the one thing that I do well at, in that I score very highly on those reading the eyes tests and things, but I'm not sure my being good at those tests actually translates into real life. How do I judge if I am correctly picking up on what someone is feeling? I do have a huge amount of difficulty knowing how to respond to other people when I do pick up on how they are feeling, and struggle to express my own emotions, but these are not things that are tested on the questionnaire. I am tempted to answer the questions in a way that gives me 6 points, just so I can get through to the next level of assessment (it gives the scoring key on the questionnaire). I am also worried that I manage to come across well in certain social situations, so I will come across as totally normal in a doctor's appointment, but what the doctor doesn't see is that the effort to look them in the eye and come across as being chatty and relaxed etc. means that I spend the whole walk home twisting my hands and tapping my fingers and humming tunelessly and stressing out. Also, the structured nature of a doctors appointment means that I know how that social situation is supposed to work, and there are certain things I want to say, and so on, so it is much easier for me than an unstructured social situation such as an evening in the pub with some friends, which I totally can't deal with. I have had so much practice at masking my discomfort in social situations that I will automatically do the masking and a lot of the problems are not at all visible, so I am worried that the doctor will just dismiss me as obviously not autistic right from the start and then be biased and I won't be assessed in a fair and neutral way.

Sorry for the rant. As you can see, I am quite stressed out about this whole thing. I don't want to be labelled autistic if I'm not, but I equally don't want to be told I'm not autistic if I am. I just want a fair assessment and a proper well researched professional opinion on why I can't deal with life or other people, so I can know the best way to deal with it and get the appropriate help.

So if anyone has any thoughts on the AQ-10 (and what you scored), or anything else in the above ramble, then do let me know!

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Gone home

Firstly, from a scoring angle there is no difference between 'definitely and slightly'.

You are only scored according to which side of centre you are and it does not matter whether its 'definitely or slightly' - so you do not need to worry there.

I found my own perceptions were not reliable, so you may wish to ask someone who knows you well what they think of your answers.

I tended to be excessively optimistic and the people I lived with strongly (and correctly) disagreed with some of my answers. If you have been without insight but functioning 'undercover' in an NT world a long time, its possible to believe your own created (acting) persona.

Its very hard to self assess especially if you interpret in a very pedantic way ... I really struggled with interpreting some of the questions (esp. on further questionaires) correctly.

The more stressed I am the more pedantic I interpret ... and it was a stressful time

32 minutes ago, Mooncat said:

I am also worried that I manage to come across well in certain social situations, so I will come across as totally normal in a doctor's appointment, but what the doctor doesn't see is that the effort to look them in the eye and come across as being chatty and relaxed etc. means that I spend the whole walk home twisting my hands and tapping my fingers and humming tunelessly and stressing out. Also, the structured nature of a doctors appointment means that I know how that social situation is supposed to work, and there are certain things I want to say, and so on, so it is much easier for me than an unstructured social situation such as an evening in the pub with some friends, which I totally can't deal with. I have had so much practice at masking my discomfort in social situations that I will automatically do the masking and a lot of the problems are not at all visible,

Just tell the doctor this - or write it on paper for them if thats easier. If you have uncertainties about some answers tell them so they understand ...

 

Edited by Going home
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Mooncat

Thank you! I am definitely over pedantic with interpreting questions, and I also don't know how I come across to other people. So I might think I know when someone's bored for example, but am actually completely wrong... I will try and address all this with the doctor tomorrow. I tried to fill in the questionnaire on a sort of gut instinct rather than over analysing everything and got 7, so maybe I was worrying for nothing. I guess it's normal to worry before an assessment, especially as someone who worries about everything...

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Nesf

I agree with @Going home that it's a good idea to ask other people their opinion before you go to the doctor. You should ask family members or people who have known you since you were a child if possible, One common aspie trait is that we find it difficult to know how people see us or how people feel about us. I asked me mum whether she thought I had it, as well as a couple of other people on the spectrum, people who knew how to recognise the traits in an adult, and they agreed that they thought I was probably on the spectrum. That helped me to feel more certain about my suspicions. When I went to the doctor to arrange a referral, my mum came with me and she confirmed that I had the traits as a child, too. I rather think that the doctor was using this screening test, because two or three of the things she asked me were questions on that test, though she didn't ask me all the questions. She seemed to be more interested in whether I had employment or relationship difficulties, things that are more likely to affect my ability to cope as an adult. She also asked whether I had been diagnosed with a learning disability. I was very anxious, and I think it showed.

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SeanS

I just did that test and got 9. Haha.

@Mooncat Prior to my diagnosis I was very worried that my NT mask would appear to be more authentic than my true Aspie self. I worried that the clinician would just see the NT traits I had programmed into my psyche over the many years I lived pre-diagnosis. Something I did to help manage that anxiety for myself and to give the clinician a more complete understanding of how I work was to write out a brief autobiography. This document was mostly constructed around events in my life which I belief were influenced largely by my autism; it consisted of stories related to bullying, social confusion and difficulty with employment and relationships.

The clinician said the document was very helpful and meant they could skip a lot of the questions they would normally have to ask. If you're concerned that your ability to socially interact may throw up an unintentional smokescreen, perhaps this could be a useful strategy for you.

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Mooncat

Thank you. When I went for my appointment I took a document consisting of a list of symptoms / things that the doctor might find useful, and he said it pretty much did the psychiatrist's job for them! I did that because I wanted to make sure they knew about things that wouldn't be obvious when they met me, and that I might not mention if I got muddled or flustered during the assessment. It wasn't so much of an autobiography (which does sounds like a good idea), but I did mention some things from childhood.

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Sanctuary

I'd not heard of this test until I saw this thread. I must say I feel it leaves a lot to be desired and would be very concerned about it being used to decide on further assessment if it's used in this bare tick-box style (which in fairness it may not be). Here is a link to the questions for anyone not familiar with them:

http://docs.autismresearchcentre.com/tests/AQ10.pdf

it's worth stating that I am self-diagnosed and have no current plans to pursue a diagnosis. I'm pretty sure I meet the AS profile and on online tests such as the AQ-50 (from which the AQ-10 is derived I believe) I score comfortably within the AS category (43 out of 50 with the cut-off at 32). However I found - as Mooncat also noted at the top of the thread - the questions very difficult to answer. In only one case (the question on collecting information) could I give a decisive answer. I scored six out of ten but the total could have easily been two or three either way. On the basis of the advice on the form I would not then be referred for further assessment as the requirement is for a score of more than six.

There are various problems with the questions. Q1 asks about "often noticing small sounds" and I have no idea whether this applies to me. I would put down "slightly disagree" because I'm not aware of this but I might be doing it but not aware. The answer to this question could also be affected by general hearing ability and disadvantage people's whose hearing is not so sharp. Q4 asks about dealing with interruptions and the answer varies so much on what is being done. Dare I say it but if i'm doing something I don't like I am happy to be interrupted :) It also depends on the length of the interruption. Several questions ask about being able to interpret other people and their feelings. it's very hard to judge how good we are at this - we might think we're right or wrong quite incorrectly.

As regards knowing if someone is getting bored (Q6) I'm always worried I'm boring people :) One consequence for me - and maybe others on the spectrum - is avoiding conversation or interaction or keeping explanations short (often too short) for fear of causing boredom. I think most people, whether they have AS or not, can detect the broad signs of boredom but individuals with AS may be less aware of the more subtle signals. However I feel the biggest problem for people with AS is actually projecting the "right" signals to others. For example someone with AS may find it hard to convey enthusiasm and warmth - even though they might have those feelings - and therefore bore a listener. Perhaps more relevant questions would focus on how a person who might have AS comes across to others than whether they know what other people are thinking. There are no questions here about social relationships and friendships which to me is a key aspect of AS.

Earlier in the thread it was suggested that someone completing the questionnaire explains any difficulties in answering it and that seems a very sensible strategy, as does providing more details on personal characteristics and biography to offer more context to a clinician. The AQ-10 may be more effective if all the answers are thoroughly discussed with a clinician and this may help produce more accurate answers. I'm sure there will be individuals with AS who will score - on initial completion at least - six or below and it would be wrong if these people slipped through the net. The AQ-50 and some of the other more detailed online tests certainly seem better measures to me but all these tests need to be fleshed out with a lot of discussion for an accurate diagnosis.

 

 

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