Autism Spectrum Quotient
Simon Baron-Cohen, Rosa Hoekstra, Bhismadev Chakrabarti, Mike Lombardo, Bonnie Auyeung, Carrie Allison
The Adult AQ (Autism Spectrum Quotient) was developed by the ARC to test if adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger Syndrome are just an extreme on a dimension of autistic traits that runs right through the general population. Our studies have shown that people with a clinical diagnosis tend to score above 32 out of 50 on the AQ, first-degree relatives tend to score higher than average on the AQ, males in the general population tend to score higher than females, and scientists tend to score higher than non-scientists on the AQ. We have also found the AQ shows heritability (from twin studies) and cross-cultural stability, and that it predicts clinical diagnosis.
We are currently investigating if the Adult AQ can be used as a screening instrument to detect undiagnosed cases of autism or Asperger Syndrome. It is recognized that at best the AQ is a screening instrument - it is not itself diagnostic. We have also found genetic polymorphisms (SNPs), patterns of brain activity and brain structure, and patterns of hormonal profile, are associated with AQ.
We have also developed an Adolescent and a Child Version of the AQ, and are in the process of evaluating short forms of all the AQ tests, for use in frontline clinical practice as potential "red flags".
Finally, we are testing if AQ is a predictor of performance on various cognitive tests, such as social-attentional cueing.