Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Fast and Fun Autism Pop Science
Yesterday, I came across a reference in the book I was reading at work to an Autism Quotient quiz in Wired's online archive. I took it, and scored an 11. The instructions claim that 32 is supposed to be the marker after which autism spectrum disorder could be suspected. Interesting. So then I posted it in Grinnell's online community for other people to take. I started collecting my friends scores. Then other people started taking it. In the space of 24 hours, I got 119 responses. I also noted whether the respondents were male or female, so I could whip up a quick statistical comparison.

The results:
Males n = 33, score range 9-39, mean score = 22.45
Females n = 86, score range 4-46, mean score = 20.43
t=1.15, no statistical significance in differences between groups

I thought this was a little unusual, since the male to female ratio of incidence of autism is about 5:1. I definitely found it interesting that the two highest reported scores came from women, and the only person to respond saying they had actually been diagnosed with Asperger's was a woman as well. Maybe the mean male score would have gone up if more had taken the test. But then again, maybe it's just that Grinnell attracts a great many introverted, intellectual women.

My mom noted that she heard Gary Mesibov giving a talk a little while ago, talking about the difficulties of diagnosing high functioning people on the autistic spectrum. He says it's because you're talking about a combination of a developmental disability and a personality type, and it's only a disability if the person is disabled by it. Seems like Grinnellians rather prove the point, in general.

I should also note that I recently read a book on the similarities between the common traits of people identified as gifted and those with other disorders, including Asperger Syndrome. I found it very informative, so I will recommend it here: Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults

I'm also looking forward to reading another, similar book our bookstore carries: Shadow Syndromes: The Mild Forms of Major Mental Disorders that Sabotage Us

And if anyone out there in the great void takes the test and wants to know if they're really all that autistic-like or not, check here:

DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for Asperger Syndrome
DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for Autistic Disorder
And a bonus: DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for ADHD

Pseudoscience is fun!

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