Online autism screening tests: preliminary self-assessment

Use our online autism screening test to identify whether you or your child may benefit from a diagnostic assessment for autism.

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At Priory, we offer access to the Autism Quotient 10 (AQ-10), which is an online autism screening test. This user-friendly tool has been designed to help people to recognise possible signs of autism in themselves or their children, so they can access a private autism assessment if this is something they feel they would benefit from.

The AQ-10 was developed by The Autism Research Centre at The University of Cambridge, and it is recommended to be used as an autism screening tool by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

How to use the autism test

The AQ-10 is a self-report questionnaire and has three different versions:

  • Autism test for adults – designed for people over the age of 16, to complete for themselves
  • Autism test for children – designed for children between the ages of 4 and 11, to be completed by their parents/carers
  • Autism test for teens/adolescents – designed for young people between the ages of 12 and 15, to be completed by their parents/carers

The test contains 10 statements and you’ll be asked to rate the extent to which you agree with each of the statements, using a 4-point rating scale.

Once you’ve rated each of the statements, these will be automatically scored and you’ll receive some information on what the results mean.

To access and complete the AQ-10, follow these simple steps:

  • Select the version of the AQ-10 that’s the most appropriate for your needs
  • Complete the test, rating each statement honestly, based on recent observations of yourself or your child
  • Once you’ve completed all of the statements, your responses will be automatically submitted and scored
  • You’ll receive immediate feedback, providing you with insights into whether you/your child may be showing signs of autism

Understanding your test results

Once you’ve completed the AQ-10, you’ll be given a score between 0 and 10.

Here’s a breakdown of what these scores suggest, for adults, children and adolescents:

Score

What does this suggest?

Below 6

You/your child are showing little to no autistic tendencies.

Above 6

You/your child may be experiencing some of the common signs and characteristics of autism.

It’s important to understand that a score of below 6 doesn’t mean that the person definitely isn’t autistic; it just means they’re not currently showing any of the core signs of autism.

On the other hand, a score of above 6 doesn’t equal a diagnosis of autism; it just indicates that this could be a possibility for the person and they might benefit from further assessment.

“While screening tests like the AQ-10 can provide valuable insights, they’re just one piece of the puzzle. It's important to interpret these results within the broader context of a person’s history, experiences and additional assessments. Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental condition, and a comprehensive evaluation takes into account lots of different factors to ensure accurate diagnosis and appropriate support.”

Next steps after the test

There are a number of steps you can take once you’ve completed the AQ-10, depending on the score you received. Information on potential next steps is outlined below:

Little to no autistic tendencies

Autistic tendencies present

If the AQ-10 suggests you or your child are showing very few autistic tendencies, there’s nothing immediate that you’ll be advised to do. However, it’s a good idea to continue monitoring the signs or traits that prompted you to take the AQ-10 in the first place and if you begin to notice problems in your day-to-day life, you could consider going to see your GP or getting a private autism assessment.

If the AQ-10 suggests you or your child are experiencing some of the common signs and characteristics of autism, you’ll be advised to book our private autism assessment. This can lead to a formal diagnosis and options for further support, if this is something you or your child would benefit from.

Our private autism assessments at Priory are conducted by either a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist, all of whom have extensive experience in autism diagnosis and support. The assessment process is made up of a number of key stages:

step by step autism test and asessment infographic

  • AQ-10 - to confirm yours/your child’s score and monitor whether there have been any changes
  • Autism diagnostic tool - such as the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO), the developmental, dimensional and diagnostic interview (3Di) or the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI-R)
  • Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) - observing and assessing for autism traits
  • Detailed outcome report - for you to share with whoever you need to. For children and young people, their outcome reports can be shared with their school/college so they can receive any additional support they need
  • Feedback meeting - to talk about the outcomes of the assessment and provide any recommendations for further support

For more information on this process, please visit our dedicated autism assessments page.

As well as reaching out for a specialist autism assessment, there are a number of charities and organisations throughout the UK that can provide support for autistic adults and young people.

Organisation

Website

Contact information

National Autistic Society

National Autistic Society (autism.org.uk)

Contact us (autism.org.uk)

Ambitious About Autism

Ambitious about Autism | National charity for autistic children and young people

Contact us | Ambitious about Autism

These organisations offer a wealth of knowledge and understanding about autism, and can connect people and families with any additional support they need to navigate their autism journey effectively.

Limitations of online autism tests

While online autism tests like the AQ-10 can provide valuable insights into potential signs of autism, it's important to recognise their limitations. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Self-reporting bias – the AQ-10 relies on self-reporting, which can be influenced by things such as the person’s mood, perception and personal interpretation of questions. This can lead to inaccuracies or biases in people’s responses, which can affect the reliability of the test results
  • Lack of context - online autism tests can’t take into account the person’s broader context, including their personal history, developmental milestones and environmental factors
  • Inability to assess nuanced behaviours - online tests, such as the AQ-10, may struggle to assess the nuanced behaviours and subtle characteristics that are associated with autism, which can vary widely from person to person
  • Lack of clinical observation - online tests don’t involve any clinical observation, which is essential for a comprehensive assessment of autism

However, while the AQ-10 does have the above limitations, it’s also grounded in lots of research on the characteristics and behaviours commonly seen in autistic people. Therefore, this concise and accessible tool allows for efficient screening and identification of people who may benefit from further assessment and support.

Online autism tests can serve as valuable tools for raising awareness and prompting people to get a further evaluation. However, it’s also necessary to get a comprehensive assessment, conducted by qualified professionals, to confirm or rule out a diagnosis of autism. The AQ-10 can provide a starting point for discussion with healthcare providers, but it shouldn’t replace the expertise and clinical judgement of trained professionals.

FAQs

Discover some frequently asked questions

What does it mean if my results suggest signs of autism?

If your results on the AQ-10 suggest that you or your child may be showing the signs of autism, it’s important to remember that this is simply a preliminary screening tool and not a diagnostic instrument. While a positive result may indicate that you or your child have some of the traits associated with autism, it doesn’t provide a definitive diagnosis.

However, a positive result could suggest that you or your child would benefit from a further evaluation by a qualified healthcare professional.

How accurate is this online autism test?

Research studies have shown promising results regarding the validity and reliability of the AQ-10 (source). However, while the AQ-10 can accurately identify people who may have characteristics commonly observed in autism, it’s not a diagnostic tool.

Where can I find a professional for an autism assessment?

If you're considering an autism assessment, there are several avenues you can explore to find a qualified healthcare professional:

  • Your GP – your GP can be an excellent starting point. They can provide guidance, answer your questions, and refer you to specialists or diagnostic services in your area
  • Private providers - you can also receive an autism assessment from private providers specialising in autism diagnosis and support, such as Priory. We offer shorter waiting times when compared to the national average, as well as access to experienced professionals trained in autism evaluation and intervention
  • Autism charities and organisations - many autism charities and support organisations, such as the National Autistic Society, provide information and resources to help people and families navigate the assessment process
  • Online directories - online directories and databases, like this one, can help you locate professionals and clinics specialising in autism assessment and diagnosis

Contact us to make an enquiry or for more information

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