HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

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Informal Quiz for Parents: Does My Child Have High-Functioning Autism?

“We suspect that our 6 y.o. son has autism (the high functioning end of the spectrum). I know you can’t diagnose a child with an autism spectrum disorder via the internet, but is there an informal quiz or test that will give us a hint as to whether or not we should pursue a formal assessment? And where do we go to have him checked?”

Of course, parents will only know for sure if their child has High-Functioning Autism (HFA) by getting a professional diagnosis. Having said that, if you answer “no” to most of the questions below (1 - 21), seeking a formal assessment would be warranted:
  1. Are people important to your child? 
  2. Can your child easily dress him/herself?
  3. Can your child easily tie his/her shoes?
  4. Can your child keep a two-way conversation going?
  5. Can he/she ride a bicycle (even with stabilizers)?
  6. Does your child care about how he/she is perceived by the rest of the group?
  7. Does your child enjoy joking around?
  8. Does he/she enjoy sports?
  9. Does your child find it easy to interact with other children?
  10. Does your child have friends, rather than just acquaintances?
  11. Does he/she join in playing games with others easily?
  12. Does your child make normal eye-contact?
  13. Does your child mostly have the same interests as his/her peers?
  14. Does he/she often come up to you spontaneously for a chat?
  15. Does he/she play imaginatively with other children, and engage in role-play?
  16. Does your child prefer imaginative activities such as play-acting or story-telling, rather than numbers or a list of facts?
  17. Is it important for him/her to fit in with a peer group?
  18. Is your child good at turn-taking in conversation?
  19. Is your child’s reading comprehension appropriate for his/her age?
  20. Was your child speaking by 2 years old?
  21. When your child was about 3 years old, did he/she spend a lot of time pretending (e.g., play-acting being a super-hero, or holding teddy's tea parties?
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If you answer “yes” to most of these questions (1 – 17), seeking a formal assessment is also warranted:
  1. Does your child appear to notice unusual details that others miss?
  2. Does your child try to impose routines on him/herself, or on others, in such a way that causes problems?
  3. Does your child do or say things that are tactless or socially inappropriate?
  4. Does he/she have an interest that takes up so much time that he/she does little else?
  5. Does your child have an unusual memory for details?
  6. Does your child have any unusual and repetitive movements?
  7. Does he/she have difficulty understanding the rules for polite behavior?
  8. Does your child have odd or unusual phrases?
  9. Does your child like to do the same things over and over again, in the same way all the time?
  10. Does your child often turn conversations to his/her favorite subject rather than following what the other person wants to talk about?
  11. Does he/she sometimes lose the listener because the listener gets bored with what your child is talking about?
  12. Does your child sometimes say "you" or "your child" when he/she means to say "I"?
  13. Does your child tend to take things literally?
  14. Has your child ever been diagnosed with a language delay, ADHD, hearing or visual difficulties, or a physical disability?
  15. Have teachers ever expressed any concerns about his/her development?
  16. Is his/her voice unusual (e.g., overly adult, flat, or very monotonous)
  17. Is your child’s social behavior very one-sided and always on his or her terms?

High-Functioning Autism can be hard to diagnose. There are a number of reasons for this: 
  • Kids with HFA are, by definition, of average or above average intelligence.
  • The “high-functioning” child may develop a means to hide, manage, or overcome the symptoms associated with the disorder.
  • He or she may do well in school, communicate effectively, and pass an IQ test with flying colors.
  • The child’s language skills may mask certain symptoms.  
  • Due to the fact that HFA carries with it a lot of strengths, the child’s strong points may carry him or her through early elementary school with only minor behavioral and/or social issues.
  • When told often enough to “make eye contact” or “stop talking about the same things over and over again,” kids on the spectrum are often able to either hide, control, or even overcome the need to present obvious symptoms.  When this occurs, the overt signs of HFA are not present, making a diagnosis difficult.
  • With girls on the autism spectrum, certain behaviors associated with the disorder may simply be considered "feminine" rather than problematic (e.g., shyness, discomfort with public speaking, difficulties with motor coordination, confusion over social communication in situations such as team sports, etc.). Also, girls with HFA behave differently than boys with HFA (e.g., they tend to be less aggressive, more imitative, and more likely to work hard to "fit in").

Your child’s doctor can make a referral to a professional who specializes in autism spectrum disorders. This is the individual who can cut through the haze and come up with a proper course of action.


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