“I thought I was autistic / an Aspie, but the online quiz said ‘no’ “

No, this didn’t happen to me.  My quizzes and questionnaires returned unquestionable results, and my formal diagnosis was a pretty easy gavel to bang.  But I have heard this statement from several other people in my life.

The first time I heard it, I thought, surely that can’t be right.  I’ve known them for a long time, and I could’ve sworn they’re autistic/an Aspie!  How could the quiz say they’re not?

It’s quite possible that they don’t reside anywhere on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum.  In that case, so be it; case closed.

It’s also possible that they do fall somewhere on the spectrum, but the online quizzes failed to reflect that fact.  The questionnaires themselves are written and engineered to pick up only the more obvious, stereotypical manifestations of certain traits as they’ve been observed using relatively small sample sizes, limited primarily to young boys.

Thus, even if someone doesn’t score within the Asperger’s/autistic range of the test, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not on the spectrum.  A common tendency among several people that I know is to take one quiz, score with “neurotypical” results, and then say, “well, that’s it.  I’m not Asperger’s/autistic.”  The truth is, they might indeed be Aspergian/autistic; they simply might have a different grouping of traits than the quizzes are engineered to detect.

There are several other possible reasons that someone might score “negative” when they’re actually autistic/an Aspie after all…

1 – The wording of the quizzes can be slightly cryptic and a person may not recognize any similarity between the terms used and their natural tendencies in every day life.  Sometimes the descriptions of behaviors and the examples given (if any) rely too heavily on clinical/academic research/professional jargon.

For example, someone might have a different impression/perception of the word “repetitive”, imagining an incessant, obvious behavior, not realizing that their subtle habit that they might not even realize they’re engaging in might fly under the radar when it comes to taking the online quiz.

2 – The quizzes themselves depend on self-awareness as a central concept, and the person taking the quiz might not be aware that they do the things mentioned in the quizzes.  The person might think they do things one way, when really they do things another way, and the answers they give might not even be completely accurate.  They might think they “fit in” better than they actually do.

3 – The person taking the quiz might be exceptionally good at (and accustomed to) acting and masking.

This is especially true is they grew up in a family in which strict neurotypical socialization was solidly ingrained from a young age, and thus, their quiz answers might be according to what they think they believe.  If they were never given the option to be themselves in a strict neurotypically-socialized family, they might have internalized their family’s social values and this might skew their answers on the quizzes.

4 – There may be differences in cultural and/or gender perception.

There may or may not be differences between how Asperger’s/autism is specifically expressed between the two genders; for example, a little boy in a Western culture who isn’t outside playing football with his friends but instead is in his room building model airplanes for 12 hours, probably a lot more likely to get noticed than the little quiet girl who reads books in her room all day long.

Different cultures (or perhaps different regions within the same culture) may also express different levels of, for example, extroversion vs introversion, and maybe even during different seasons of the year (someone living in the north is not going to be too chatty in the wintertime when the wind gusts are icy).

This scenario highlights one advantage of being evaluated by a (good, exceptionally astute) professional, if you can, and if you feel comfortable doing so.  It is crucial to find one that is especially intimately familiar with the non-stereotypical manifestations of spectrum traits, however; not everybody with a PhD or MD behind their name, or the word “Psychiatrist” on their office door or clinic signage, actually knows what they’re doing in this area.  Adults are deplorably under-diagnosed, and for a variety of reasons, the existence of the condition is entirely missed.

In the case of a strong suspicion of being on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum despite a negative-result on the online questionnaires, though, this is one circumstance in which a decent professional will likely have to be involved.

I’ve provided more information as to how to go about getting a diagnosis without inadvertently landing yourself in potentially treacherous waters in a previous post from last fall.  Also, the practitioners listed on the recently-updated Resources page have been personally vetted (as in, I’ve talked to both and worked with one so far) and confirmed to solidly respect privacy, and they even allow patients/clients to use an alias or pseudonym.

If This Has Happened To You (negative online test or denial of diagnosis by a professional):

Whatever the case may be, go with your gut, and keep researching.  Get your hands on as many trait lists as you can.  Ask other people who know you well about various traits.  As self-aware as I thought I was, the diagnostic process (which for me, included questionnaires to be completed by other people close to me, about me) was very illuminating and insightful; I learned and remembered previous behaviors from young childhood that I had either long forgotten or hadn’t thought anything of, until they were pointed out by people around me.  There were many instances in which I hadn’t thought that a particular diagnostic criterion applied to me but lo and behold, it did.

Never take the words of one professional (especially one who is run-of-the-mill) at face value.  They’re not infallible, either.  They make mistakes, too.  They’re not entirely objective; they’re prone to their own bias and they’re subject to their own lack of understanding.  If they’re not particularly astute or adept at detecting the variety of presentations that come before them, they may fail to recognize a real “case” of Asperger’s/autism.  In fact, the vast majority of them wouldn’t know what adult autism/Asperger’s looked like if their lives counted on it.  So, take their negative answer with a grain of salt, and remember that it is always your right to seek a second (or even third) opinion (if you can/want to).

Either way, never stop reading, researching, and so on.

Also, it’s important to consider that although you may indeed not be autistic, per se, there are several other related conditions in which traits and characteristics overlap somewhat significantly.  So even if you’re not autistic/an Aspie, per se, you might indeed be neurodivergent in another way, such as ADHD, social anxiety, or another related designation.  Either way, the truth is whatever it is, and you are whoever you are, and you have a place in this world; you always belong; you’re never alone 🙂

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26 Comments

  1. one more point is sometimes not just culture or gender nay deviate results but also other things like languages and sight or hearing issues.
    i notice things like patterns all the time even though those are not primarily sight based patters (just patterns in everything else) as one example. some people with hearing problems get the “tone of voice” thing ignored, as if not hearing would change things (yet i have some deafblind multicultural aspie friends too).
    makes it harder sometimes to find a specialist who can appreciate all the little details

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You bring up a terrific point! 👏🏼👏🏼. My partner is legally blind, and although I’m positive he’s somewhere in Aspie/autism spectrum territory, his vision issue has altered things; obviously he doesn’t memorize license plates 😉❤️. And since his “special interest” was law enforcement, the only way he could work in that field was to be a 9-1-1 dispatcher, which involves effective communication. But at home, without people around, when he’s being his natural self, he’s pretty Aspergian through and through 💜💙

      Liked by 2 people

        1. In many departments, yep 😊. He had such a challenge finding a job; few departments would take on the perceived liability. But oh wow, was he ever good at what he did! He was magic behind the console and if one didn’t know he was legally blind, they’d never have been able to tell 💪🏼😊❤️

          Liked by 2 people

          1. again sooo much depends on the type and cause of it. nystagmus can be one of those others donʻt notice. or think of the uncomfortable ones like macular degenration – your center vision goes so when you look at someone you kubd of see them and yet donʻt get no detail. or when someone has a tunnel vision, or many mant other combinations.
            and it can be fristrating – if you try to describe the problem to others even in simple terms often thereʻs too much uncomfort barrier. which again is so difficult to read as an aspie…

            Liked by 2 people

          2. Amen, luv 👏🏼. It definitely depends on so many factors 😊❤️

            Interesting that you mention nystagmus, as my partner has that along with amblyopia (OMG my mobile already knows that word!), and his nystagmus is relatively noticeable, although not distractingly so 😊. I’m so grateful that early on in our relationship, he made it very clear that I was strongly encouraged to ask him any questions that popped into my mind, as opposed to harboring them quietly. He wanted everything to be out in the open, no weirdness or anything. He said he didn’t mind discussing it or explaining it to me. I’m also really grateful for his thorough explanations and his endless patience with me. It has really opened my own eyes (no pun intended) to his reality, and it has helped me help him when needed. I’m very grateful for those who share their stories.

            His condition was present at birth; he was born with congenital cataracts, a fairly rare condition that likely happened to the chromosomes within his father, who got exposed to Agent Orange while fighting over in Vietnam. His sister was born without any eyesight abnormality, but her son has a milder pattern as my partner. So it appears to have impacted the Y chromosome. Nobody’s very sure about all that, but that’s what they’ve come up with as a supposition.

            He has since had posterior chamber lens implants (considered older technology by 2006, when he had them done). This didn’t restore any vision, but it did allow him to see at his usual 20/200 without having to use contacts or thick glasses.

            Interestingly enough, after 6 months so far doing daily acupuncture on himself and taking a couple medical-grade Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas (all powerful herbs), he has most recently been tested to be 20/148, a significant improvement (!). Neither of us expected that to happen, since he’s 46 now, but it did. Amazing!! It probably won’t work for everyone, but it goes to show what might be possible for some. I share it here in case it helps you or anyone else 😊❤️💜💙

            Liked by 2 people

  2. The Self-Awareness issue is a good one to be aware of. The first quiz I took I took with my wife reading the questions and there were several times she and I disagreed, she saw the Aspie/Autistic symptoms in me before I ever did. The more I learned about the spectrum and about myself the more my answers to those questions changed.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep! I can relate 😊, in that I think something similar is happening with my partner right now; he’s just not aware. Which is fine 😊. But even though his quiz scores are NT, he’s got Aspie written all over him; it’s just a different set of traits than what is covered in a relatively small set of questions 😊❤️

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree, the test is limited, especially depending exactly where on the Spectrum you fall. It could do with expanding, but any “quiz” or screening like this is bound to be limited. My biggest problem with this kind of quiz is that there is such a small and undefined difference between “slightly agree” and “slightly disagree”.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Another matter to be considered is that especially the first time(s) one takes a test, the answers may stem not from the core of one’s behavioural specifics, but from the usually maladaptive practices learned through mimicking as a defence mechanism for survival. My advices are:
    -never do the test without having a copy in your hand to see. Listening only triggers immediately the survival mechanisms
    -do not rush to do the test without having studied all questions in detail, recalling how you acted throughout your past, including childhood memories
    -try to reply not what you would be expected to act pressured by environment, but your basic, raw preferences
    -as mentioned before, give yourself a couple of days to study the questions, dwelling on each, corroborating past and present of who you would truly be, should your environment let you 🤓

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Your points are all excellent, particularly the self-awareness issue (as another commenter has already pointed out). I would also say, do take the tests several times. Not on the same day, but e.g. a few months apart. Results might vary, depending on what sort of day you are having, and most importantly, if you keep looking into the autism issue, your self-awareness will change.
    I have taken the AQ several times and always score roughly the same (34 plus/minus 2). But on the Aspie Quiz I have moved from NT to “you have NT and Aspie traits” to “most likely an Aspie”. I have an idea for a blog post on my experience with tests at the back of my mind, so maybe I should get onto that.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That would be awesome! I would love to hear/read your thoughts on this 😊❤️

      Yep, my AQ scores range from 43-48 lol 😂. My RAADS-R ranges from 193-206, empathy quotient ranges from 12-18, and systemizing quotient ranges from 117-135 (lol again 😂) 😘💚💙

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Another important factor, that made some difference in how my tests came out — they’re all set in the present. If you’ve overcome some traits, or adapted so well that they don’t have much effect on you anymore, that will skew the scoring. Try to think back further in your life to when they did.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oooh yes! That’s a really important consideration; childhood is particularly telling because we haven’t adapted much yet 😊. You make a good point! 👍🏼💙💜

      Liked by 1 person

  6. today i found out theres an aspie muppet named julia.

    im a longtime fan of the muppets and these characters they add to teach kids more about the people they respresent, are usually positive. i literally found out about julia moments ago, and ran here to tell you, before finding anything beyond a name and a face.

    the first thing to mention is that shes female. as a male, i think thats a wonderful choice– why? because females remain undiagnosed longer, and the awareness regarding females is much lower (lets say its frequently dismissed or misdiagnosed as something else, at least thats a possible trend ive picked up, whether its substantiated by facts or not. which it probably is, but its a start anyway.)

    i mention this of course because while usually we talk about these relatively remote, often negative, cure-centric organizations, the muppets are generally created so you can learn more about them, and accept them as people. there is a concern naturally that this will reinforce misleading stereotypes, or lead to a more uniform (stereotype, negative or otherwise) conception of aspies. that would be unfortunate.

    its too early to say, unless you know more about julia than i do. i realise we are talking about a puppet– this is a big deal, imo. this is worth paying some attention to. this is worth getting some more details about, and keeping a watch on. if nothing else, its something to write about. you know i never really commission you to write and this is no different– this is me throwing information your way, and i know you love that 🙂 ❤ and im more likely to write about it through comments, like im doing now. if i learn anything about her, i will let you know. cheers! have fun. i still adore you, in case you feel left alone right now. always, forever. take care sis.

    Liked by 2 people

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