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I have taken some tests for Asperger's which gives a rating point, and the higher you score its more likely that you have asperger. I was just wondering if this means that there are degrees of asperger, that everyone is asperger to some degree, or is this rating just a property of the test, and people either have asperger syndrome or not?

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    $\begingroup$ You might want to do a search for "taxometrics and asperger". Taxometrics is a discipline that examines the question of whether something is categorical or continuous. It has been particularly applied to psychology. $\endgroup$ – Jeromy Anglim Mar 5 '14 at 4:01
  • $\begingroup$ Can you link the tests for us? $\endgroup$ – Revious Mar 5 '14 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Revious I just googled asperger test and tried a couple, wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aqtest.html $\endgroup$ – user4527 Mar 5 '14 at 19:25
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Whatever test you took, it does not test Asperger. It tests for symptoms that are typical in someone with Asperger.

For example one Asperger test asks you to rate the following statement (translated from German) on a skale from 1 = "totally disagree" to 4 = totally agree":

  1. I prefer to spend my leisure time with other people rather than alone.

Now of course people with Asperger often tend to stay by themselves and undertake things alone rather than with friends, but many non-Asperger people might feel that they sometimes enjoy time alone also, for example if they are naturally shy and find being with others enjoyable but exhausting, or if they have a job dealing with people and they like to have some free time by themselves to relax from the constant interaction.

Just this weekend I read an interview with one of the most influential German movie directors, Doris Dörrie, who said how she likes to go on holidays by herself, especially to foreign countries where she cannot interact with anyone because she does not speak the language, and she goes on to tell how she went to Japan and enjoyed her aloneness tremendously and spent whole days basking in being outside society and looking on. Totally Asperger, if you think about it. But her job is to intensely interact with people, and she simply needs time off from that.

It's totally unremarkable that many people show some of the behaviors or emotions that people with Asperger (or other psychological disorders) show. It does not mean that they have Asperger to some degree. Rather, if someone rates very high in that test, that is merely an indication that they very likely have Asperger. No psychological diagnosis relies purely on a single self-report measure, but on a complex series of observation, interviews, and a battery of tests.


Also see the answer by Eoin for a different perspective on the question.

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Two additional points to the previous answer from what.

  • With the release of the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), Asperger's is no longer classified as a condition in its own right, but as Autism coupled with high intelligence and intact language skills.

  • Almost all accounts of Autism hold that it exists as a spectrum, or a continuum: some people are very typical of the condition, some people are very strongly the opposite, and most people are somewhere in between.

Autism (and Asperger's) is characterized by a 'triad of impairments' to social interaction,communication (less so for Asperger's), and flexible imaginative functions (i.e. repeated/stereotyped behaviours and interests). Obviously, these are traits that vary across the general population as well (I, like many scientists, can be very focused and one-track in my interests).

I recently also came across a paper by Happé and Ronald (2008) (link) arguing that, genetically speaking, these traits vary independently of each other in the general population. It's only when someone has high levels of all three that they are diagnosed as having Autism.

Finally, for an even more broad theory of Autistic traits in the general population, take a look at Simon Baron-Cohen's extreme male brain theory of autism, which states that people differ in the fundamental trait of being either 'empathizing' or 'systematizing', with men tending to be more 'systematizing'. Autism, then, is just a case of being more like a male brain then usual, or super-systematizing.

I hope this is some help!

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  • $\begingroup$ there are disputes around "extreme male brain theory". Some autistics also dislikes that theory. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Sep 9 at 19:23
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No. Everyone is not a little bit autistic. Everyone may not be "typically developing" in some or some aspect; but autism is not universal.

Apparently Same symptoms or same behaviour may have complete different reasons.

Aspergers is predominately a communication problem and problem with social guesswork. Usually a vast number of other complaints co-occur which are invisible from outside. It not necessarily includes introversion, rather the introversion is sometimes a byproduct of failed communication with peer group.

Some typically developing people may be shy or introverted. Who do not like to make friends. But they have good social skills.

Some people may develop narcissistic personality disorder. Which is a problem about ego. They may have manipulative nature. They tend to have good understanding of social cues.

In some cases these condition may be co-occuring. However everyone is not autistic, and there isn't a thing like being a "little bit" autistic. Being in even very mild end of ASD spectrum is usually a very stressful condition, however the invisibility of the disability often blends it so much indistinguishably with typically developing population.

Another situation of similar superficial appearance, Also Say for a restless uncontrollable behaviour may look common with ADHD and some ASD as well as typically developing. But the inherent reason may be very different. Such as for ADHD it may be a shifting attention and energetic impulse, whereas in ASD it may be the anxiety developed from lack of predictability of a real life process going on. A typically developing person can do the same due to joy or anger or boredom but they have better response inhibition. Even bipolar patients may have indistinguishable symptom, but that is due to an unusual state of mood and feeling, even without triggered by another reason.

Psychology is very tricky. Not only behaviours but the reasons behind behaviour to be considered.

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