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Tools Often Used to Identify Asperger's Syndrome

written by: Elizabeth Wistrom • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 1/4/2012

Asperger's syndrome is diagnosed in children and adults through the use of assessment scales. Psychiatric and special education professionals can administer these assessments and evaluate the results to determine the presence or absence of Asperger's in an individual.

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    People with Asperger's syndrome are typically intelligent, and highly verbal, yet tend to struggle with social skills, changes in routine, and following non-verbal cues. The disorder can be diagnosed through several different Asperger's assessment tools, most of which are targeted toward children and young adults. In this article, we will explore various testing tools available to the medical and educational communities.

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    Australian Scale for Asperger's Syndrome

    Tony Attwood, an Australian doctor and leading authority on Asperger's disorder, developed an assessment test known as the Australian Scale for Asperger's Syndrome. This assessment is designed for children in the 6 to 12 year age range. Parents of children being evaluated for Asperger's can complete this test, which consists of six sections and 34 questions.

    The Australian Scale for Asperger's Syndrome is used to determine a child's social and emotional abilities, communication skills, cognitive skills, specific interests, movement skills and related Asperger characteristics. Each question highlights a certain trait and is scored between a range of 0 (behavior rarely occurs) and 6 (behavior frequently occurs). Children who score between 2 and 6 on most questions are potential candidates for having Asperger's syndrome.

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    Asperger's Syndrome Diagnostic Scale

    The Asperger's Syndrome Diagnostic Scale is targeted toward individuals aged 5 through 18. This 50-question assessment tool can be completed by the parents, teachers or counselors of a child who is thought to have Asperger's. The five sections of the Asperger's Syndrome Diagnostic Scale address cognition (information processing), language skills (both spoken and written), social interactions (in two-person and group settings), sensorimotor questions (gross motor skills and sensory input) and maladaptive behavior (tantrums or ritualistic actions). The answers are scored on both a raw and standard basis, and the results indicate whether or not Asperger's is a likely diagnosis for the child or teen in question.

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    Childhood Autism Spectrum Test

    This assessment scale was previously known as the Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test. Designed to be completed by the parents of children between the ages of 4 and 11, this test consists of 39 yes/no questions (the 39th question is further divided into 6 yes/no questions that address other diagnoses).

    Sample questions on the Childhood Autism Spectrum Test include:

    • Does (the child) find it easy to interact with other children?
    • Is (the child) good at turn-taking in conversation?
    • Does (the child) have any unusual and repetitive movements?

    Each "yes" or "no" answer is scored with either 0 points or 1 point. A total score of 15 or greater indicates that Asperger's syndrome or another autism spectrum disorder may be present.

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    Adult Asperger Assessment

    Developed by the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, the Adult Asperger Assessment is a diagnostic tool that helps adults to determine if they have Asperger's syndrome. Divided into the Autism Spectrum Quotient section and the Empathy Quotient section, the Adult Asperger Assessment targets issues such as understanding the emotions of others, communication, social skills, lapses in attention, fantasy and imagination and attention to detail. This test is designed to assist in later-stage Asperger diagnoses for individuals who were not evaluated for the disorder as children.

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    Asperger's assessment tests are performed in conjunction with behavioral evaluations and analysis of intake information provided by parents, teachers or the patient. These assessments help to ensure accuracy in diagnosing Asperger's syndrome so that future treatments and accommodations can be implemented.

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