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?

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.

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
More articles for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…


Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...


Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…


Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…


Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...


Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...
A child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can have difficulty in school because, since he fits in so well, many adults may miss the fact that he has a diagnosis. When these children display symptoms of their disorder, they may be seen as defiant or disruptive.

Click here for the full article...

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