An online autism test is usually a simple multiple choice or true-false test that can help someone determine if he might be displaying some of the symptoms of an autism spectrum disorder. An online autism test may ask about specific and common symptoms of autism spectrum disorders, such as "I am fascinated by numbers" or "I enjoy social situations." Some tests require a true-or-false answer, while others ask test-takers to rate their levels of agreement with each statement. Psychiatrists typically stress that these online tests are not intended to offer a definitive diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder. Instead, they are usually best used to help an individual determine whether he should seek psychiatric treatment for an autism spectrum disorder.
Simon-Baron Cohen, a psychologist with the Autism Research Center at Cambridge University, is credited with the development of the autism-spectrum quotient (AQ) test. This test is among the most popular online autism tests. It offers a list of 50 statements and asks the test-taker to rate his level of agreement with each question.
A person who does not suffer from any autism spectrum disorders will score an average of about 16 points on this test. People who score 32 points or more are believed very likely to be suffering from an autism spectrum disorder. About 80 percent of those with high scores on the AQ test are later diagnosed with some form of autism.
Most psychiatric experts believe that a high score on the AQ test does not definitively indicate autism. Many people who receive high scores on an online autism test are later shown to enjoy normal social function. This appears to be true even when the patients in question show multiple marked symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. Sometimes the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder are very similar to those of other mental disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorder or attention deficit disorder. Further psychiatric evaluation is usually necessary to make a proper and definitive diagnosis.
Preliminary autism testing online can nevertheless be useful for those who believe they may be suffering from an autism spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorders, such as Asperger's syndrome, are often difficult to diagnose. People who have these disorders are often very high-functioning and may seem mentally healthy, if a little odd, to others. An online autism test can indicate the presence of autism spectrum disorder symptoms, and can even give some indication of the severity of those symptoms.