Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Ten questions.

Yesterday afternoon the phone rang.

I don't like answering the phone - never really have. So I'm at a disadvantage instantly. The voice on the other end introduced herself - I've no idea what she said her name was. She said she was a mental health link worker with a triage team? and wanted to know if I felt comfortable going through an assessment questionnaire over the phone to see whether I should be passed on for referral for autism assessment.

What I should have said was no way.

But I'm not particularly assertive. Especially if you catch me unawares.

Before the questionnaire she asked some questions about my background and why I suspect I might be autistic, those were fairly straightforward to cover, although not in great detail as I wasn't prepared.

Then on to what she called the AQT. Ten questions, each to be answered as strongly agree, slightly agree, slightly disagree or strongly disagree.

1) You hear noises other people can't?
Seriously. This is an assessment question? Yes, as it happens I can. Was driven up the wall by the sonic mouse repeller we had, even though I'm half deaf. I could hear it ticking. Very irritating. Does this mean deaf people can't be autistic?

2 - You can tell what people are thinking from facial expressions.
No. Not particularly.

You find it easy to do more than one thing at once.
You see the big picture rather than the small details.
You find it easy to refocus on task once you've been interrupted.
You categorise or collect things.

You find it easy to tell the intentions of characters in books.
Eh what? I can tell what I think the intentions of characters in books are. But books aren't real people. Characters in books have to be slightly predictable or the book doesn't hold together. Real people aren't like that, they don't have to be internally consistent. You're going to base an autism assessment on fiction?

I can't remember all the questions. Usually I'd be good on something like this, recalling the details of a conversation. But I was very stressed during this - a pass/fail test effectively without warning, and I didn't know what the criteria were. (Oh, there's another question. Something about perfectionism.)

We got to the end, and she tallied it up and started umming and ahing. You're borderline for referral she said.

Seriously. You're going to assess an intelligent (highly intelligent actually, but let's not brag too much) woman over the phone with what feels like an internet questionnaire and tell me you can tell that she's not autistic enough to talk to a specialist.

I didn't react well to this idea. So not well that I will be being referred to the adult assessment team. I didn't know that we had an adult assessment team - google tells me it started taking referrals in October. This might explain why the first GP said I would have to be referred out of area for assessment.

So, another step taken. Is it just me though, or is this starting to feel like a comedy of errors?


  1. They really did pull those off part of an internet test didnt they? Flabbergasted.

  2. I searched for the questionnaire (I can't help but search for things sometimes). AQ-10, developed by Baron-Cohen (there's a surprise...) and recommended by NICE. Musings of an Aspie has a discussion on gender bias in the questions in the comments section:

    1. I searched for it but didn't find it. Off to read that post.

  3. I have done the 50 question version which is why i thought those 10 questions had been pulled from the internet. If what the blog post says is true (and i see no reason to think it wouldnt be) then there is no 'borderline'. If you got 6 or above you get referred. (I scored a 6). It seems a ridiculous wY to ascertain if someone ought to be assessed - the questions themselves are so open to interpretation that if feels completely pointless. Or is it that only an aspie would find the questions open to interpretation?! As an aside - BC makes my blood boil.

  4. I'm honestly not sure what I got. I get very confused by the big picture/small details question. I need to understand everything. Is that details or not? I think I score 6 disregarding that question but the fiction one confused me too. If I'd had the questions in front of me I might have coped better.

  5. Yes, that question floors me - i need to see the details in order to see the big picture, but depending on the picture in question, I can see the big picture but then need to go into the small details - it's a case by case thing, but of course the question doesnt allow for such an answer. Very frustrating - i would hope that the next step in the process moves away from this sort of assessment and looks more closely at individual experience. In all honesty, it's this kind of thing that gets me questioning whether aspergers is a real thing, or just some egotistical so and so's way of making a name for them self on the back of certain personal characteristics that they have decreed are disordered. On the other hand, of course, recognising
    said characteristics has me swinging widely over to the point of view that of course aspergers is a real thing. It's becoming very wearying for me right now, going backwards and forwards with it all, particularly as I thought I had a pretty good handle on it until fairly recently.

    I hope that the next stage happens pdq for you.

  6. A beautifully eloquent post. And I love it on many levels!! Just take this along to your formal assessment – it should tell them everything they need to know! xx


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