Autism Spectrum Quotient
Last updated on February 17, 2021 by Martin Silvertant
The Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) is a self-administered questionnaire used to measure autistic traits in adults (age 16+) with IQ in the normal range (IQ >=80).
- Statements: 50
- Duration: 5–10 minutes
- Type: screening tool
- Author: Simon Baron-Cohen
- Publishing year: 2001
- Seminal paper: The Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ): Evidence from Asperger Syndrome/High-Functioning Autism, Males and Females, Scientists and Mathematicians (Baron-Cohen et al., 2001)
Take the test here:
Who the test is designed for
- Adults (age 16+) of average or higher intelligence.The Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ): Evidence from Asperger Syndrome/High-Functioning Autism, Males and Females, Scientists and Mathematicians (Baron-Cohen et al., 2001)
Versions & translations
- The AQ is available in most languages
- Non-adults versions are also available:
- Adolescents (ages 12–15)
- Children (ages 4–11)
Taking the test
The AQ consists of 50 statements, giving you 4 choices for each statement:
- Definitely agree
- Slightly agree
- Slightly disagree
- Definitely disagree
Note: it makes no difference to your score whether you choose slightly or definitely, so treat the statements as a binary choice agree and disagree.
- Scoring range: 0–50
- Threshold score: 26
- Scores 26 or greater indicate you might be autistic
- Lower scores mean you likely are not.
- 80% of people already diagnosed with Asperger’s score 32 or higher.
- Most non-autistic males score 17 on average
- Most non-autistic females score 15 on average
You can take the test using two methods of scoring:
How reliable, accurate, valid, and up to date is the test?
The AQ correctly scores autistics (both male and female) higher than neurotypicals.Negatively phrased items of the Autism Spectrum Quotient function differently for groups with and without autism (van Rentergem, Lever, & Geurts, 2019)
- Test-retest reliability is good. Consistency of scores when a person retakes the test.
- Inter-rater reliability is good. Consistency of scores when two different clinicians provide the test to the same person.
Research shows that the AQ is a quick tool to identify where a person is situated on the continuum from autism to neurotypicality.The Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ): Evidence from Asperger Syndrome/High-Functioning Autism, Males and Females, Scientists and Mathematicians (Baron-Cohen et al., 2001)
In 2017, the following items were proven unrepresentative measures of autistic traits, thus needing revision.Is the Autism-Spectrum Quotient a Valid Measure of Traits Associated with the Autism Spectrum? A Rasch Validation in Adults with and Without Autism Spectrum Disorders (Lundqvist & Lindner, 2017)
Researchers thought that autistics would agree with the following questions, but we don’t necessarily:
- 9. I am fascinated by dates.
- 21. I don’t particularly enjoy reading fiction.
And researchers thought that autistics would disagree with the following questions, but again, we don’t necessarily:
- 29. I am not very good at remembering phone numbers.
- 30. I don’t usually notice small changes in a situation, or a person’s appearance.
- 49. I am not very good at remembering people’s date of birth.
If you take the test, please interpret the outdated questions as follows:
- 9. I am interested in the patterns or correlations of events.
- 21. I enjoy reading informative literature, but I sometimes like reading fiction as well (and might use it to learn social skills).
- 29. I am not very good at remembering information that is important to me.
- 30. I usually notice small changes in a situation or person’s appearance.
- 49. I am not very good at remembering information that is important to me.
- Not knowing there are only two options (‘agree’ or ‘disagree’), dramatically increases the time it takes to complete this test.
- Outdated questions may reduce the accuracy of the test.
- Some questions are too general for an ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ answer. For instance, item 21: I don’t particularly enjoy reading fiction.
I very much enjoy particular types of fiction, but did not read fiction when I was younger. I still enjoy reading factual information. (Kendall)
- Some questions are based on outdated assumptions about autism. For example, item 8: When I’m reading a story, I can easily imagine what the characters might look like. Older research papers claim we lack imagination, but this is affective alexithymia, not autism. Furthermore, affective alexithymia is not at all common in autism.
To read more on alexithymia and aspects of this construct that are commonly mistaken for autism, have a look at:
Recommended next steps
After the AQ, consider taking one of the tests below.
Identifies adults who often “escape diagnosis”
due to a subclinical level presentation
Measures camouflaging, and can account
for lower scores on other autism tests
Identifies neurodivergence and
potential co-occurring conditions
Online autism tests can play an essential role in the process of self-discovery, and may inform your decision to pursue a formal diagnosis. For a formal assessment, please see a knowledgeable medical professional trained in assessing autism.
If you are looking for an autism assessment,
have a look at the following post: