The LA Times in their series on Autism last week referenced a British study that appeared to have found 1% of adults with the disorder, the equivalent to the rate among children right now, as a way to convince the public Autism really isn't an epidemic after all. Millions of adults with the disorder have been with us forever they tell us, unfortunately either misdiagnosed, in prison, or worse. The quest to find them has begun, and in Britain, they've already started.
I forgot about that study from 2007 and decided to go back today and look at what it found and how. I remembered it being pretty ridiculous, and sure enough, I was right.
Logic would dictate that if you were truly screening the adult population for Autism, you would subject them to the same DSM criteria children are, and that you would investigate as to whether or not they had those symptoms as children. Let's compare apples to apples, shall we? But no. That's not really what happened in this study. Instead, it starts with a survey, one that the adult answers themselves. (Think about that for a second.) Naturally, I decided to take it to see if I too would be flagged with possible Autism.
Here is the actual survey, called the AQ20, and here are my answers. (It's quite obvious the survey is strictly trying to identify people with Asperger's Syndrome. Muddying the waters to say 1% of adults with Asperger's is the same as 1% of children with Asperger's and Classic Autism is pretty neat trick, eh? And for what it's worth, over 5,000 of the 7,000 plus interviewees in this study qualified as possibly being Autistic based on it, making them initially eligible to move on to phase two. Seriously.)
Go ahead! Try it! Maybe you're Autistic too.
1. I prefer to do things over and over the same way. Yes. I like my laundry folded the same way all the time.
2. I often notice small sounds when others do not. Yes. Since being a mother, I can hear a whisper down the hall at midnight.
3. Other people often tell me what I've said is impolite, even though I think it is. Yes. When I talk about Autism with very little patience and creative curse words, this is usually the case.
4. I am fascinated by dates. Yes. I live my life by the calendar, no doubt.
5. I find social situations easy. Not always. Depends on the situation.
6. I tend to notice the details others do not. Yes. I was raised to.
7. I would rather go to a party than a library. Depends on the party.
8. I find myself drawn more strongly to people than things. Depends on the things. Depends on the people.
9. When I talk, it isn't always easy for others to get a word in edgeways. Often, yes. I'm an Irish-Catholic woman from the midwest. This is surprising?
10. When I'm reading a story, I find it difficult to work out the characters intentions. Depends on the writer. Some people are terrible story tellers.
11. I particularly enjoy reading fiction. Not lately.
12. I find it easy to make new friends. Yes, but harder as I've gotten older.
13. I know how to tell if someone listening to me is getting bored. Yes. This happens a lot with Autism talk.
14. I find it easy to do more than one thing at once. Easy? No. Can I? Yes.
15. When I talk on the phone, I'm not sure when it's my turn to speak. Cell phone? All the time. The delay kills me.
16. I find it easy to work out what someone is thinking or feeling just by looking at their face. Yes.
17. I like to collect information about categories of things (types of cars, etc.). Yes. I collect coffee mugs. And I really like coffee. Read a book about Starbucks.
18. I like to plan any activities I participate in carefully. Yes. I'm a control freak. Ask anyone.
19. I enjoy social occasions. Is my family there?
20. I am not very good at remembering people's date of birth. Thank goodness for Face Book.
Although this is sarcastic, the truth is that even without sarcasm, there were enough positive answers to move me to phase two. You?
Julie Obradovic is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.