Aspergers was not officially added to the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) until 1994, with the release of the DSM-IV. Prior to the inclusion of Aspergers, the only autism spectrum diagnosis available to clinicians was autistic disorder.
This lack of diverse diagnostic criteria led to a generation of kids growing up with obviously Aspergers traits but no diagnosis. As the public began to learn more about the various autism spectrum disorders, many grown-ups with these unique qualities began to self-diagnose themselves with Aspergers.
Symptoms of Aspergers—
Autistic disorder, PDD-NOS, and Aspergers share similar diagnostic characteristics. According to WebMd, symptoms of Aspergers include social impairments, restricted interests, repetitive behaviors, and strict adherence to rituals and routines. However, people with Aspergers may not have experienced delays in language or cognitive development.
These symptoms may have left kids with labels like odd, quirky, or socially aloof. Once Aspergers was added to the DSM-IV as a separate pervasive development disorder, clinicians were able to apply a diagnostic label to these kids.
When information about Aspergers became more readily available, adults that were once considered quirky or that had received a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder may have been intrigued by the characteristics of people with Aspergers.
Reading through a list of the common traits of Asperger people, one may find himself nodding his head in agreement. To help in identifying the symptoms of Aspergers in oneself, several online tools were created.
The Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ Test)—
While there may be several online Aspergers tests available, the Autism Spectrum Quotient is one of the most well respected tools. Simon Baron-Cohen, a noted Cambridge psychologist and expert in the field of Aspergers, created the AQ Test. Baron-Cohen operates the Cambridge Lifespan Asperger Syndrome Service, which is dedicated to meeting the needs of grow-ups with Aspergers.
The AQ Test features 50 questions to help adults evaluate their own autistic traits. Questions on the test address a person’s social aptitude, repetitive behaviors, narrow interests, adherence to routines, and other traits common among adults with Aspergers. During the first trial period of the AQ Test, 80% of adults with an actual autism spectrum diagnosis recorded scores of 32 or higher.
While the AQ Test isn’t an actual diagnostic tool, many adults use this to help self-diagnose themselves with Aspergers. It is important to note that while the test may be helpful in identifying autistic traits, individuals that feel they may be on the autism spectrum should seek an evaluation by a professional experienced with adults with an autism spectrum disorder.
The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook