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AngelL
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26 Aug 2021, 11:59 am

I have issues; of that, there is no doubt. Neurodiversity is one, but it is far from the only one. So, that results in me coming to you all to ask if you share my struggle with this or that – to see where the issue is coming from and to try and fix it using the tools from the right toolbox. Today’s query is about something I thought I was clear on, but I’m starting to wonder. I was taking the Cat-Q test and had SO many problems understanding a lot of the questions that I began considering that maybe these traits that I’ve been associating with neurodiversity are actually traits of another condition. I’m thinking it must be because why would someone create a test to determine autism by asking questions that autistic folks can’t answer? For example, question number three from the Cat-Q begins:

I rarely feel the need…

Nevermind how the question ends – how do you get past the first five words when three of them are subjective? What the heck does “rarely” mean? I know a couple who I firmly believe are monogamous and yet the husband tells me that they rarely have sex and she tells me it’s nearly constant. I believe that they are both being truthful in describing how they see their situation – and yet their subjective experience makes words and phrases like ‘rarely’ or ‘nearly constant’ less than useless.

Let’s move on to the word ‘feel’. Oh joy. I am so good with understanding feelings. /sarcasm There are ~34,000 distinct feelings out there and ‘feel the need’ isn’t one of them. Near as I can tell, the dictionary definition that seems closest (to me) is, “Experience (a feeling or sensation)”. Since ‘feel a need’ isn’t one of the ~34,000 emotions out there, it must mean, ‘to experience a sensation of need’. I know what each of those words means individually but together like this…nothing. Not to mention the fact that if I were to take this is a clinical setting, I wouldn’t have access to a dictionary and asking will simply result in being told, “Just do your best.”

‘Need’? Okay, let’s look at the rest of the sentence: “I rarely feel the need to put on an act in order to get through a social situation.” The only ones who are going to feel the need to put on an act are the folks who are aware enough of their social deficits to realize that it might be helpful to do so. So, for all the folks who are on the end of the spectrum where they can’t make this determination…they’re going to answer this question like they’re neurotypical? That can’t be right. They must mean something different… Too, this question seems to be at least as appropriate to measure co-dependency than it does autism – how would a codependent NT respond?

Anyway, does anyone else get tripped up by such questions?



HeroOfHyrule
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26 Aug 2021, 12:04 pm

The CAT-Q isn't to test for autism, but to test for how many masking and compensating behaviours someone has. I had no issues taking or understanding the quiz.



AngelL
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26 Aug 2021, 2:07 pm

HeroOfHyrule wrote:
The CAT-Q isn't to test for autism, but to test for how many masking and compensating behaviours someone has. I had no issues taking or understanding the quiz.


Thank you for making the distinction for me.



Something Profound
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26 Aug 2021, 11:27 pm

AngelL wrote:
Anyway, does anyone else get tripped up by such questions?


I can see the difficulty you might face with the questions on such tests. I don't get "tripped up" by such questions, but they do give me pause on occasion because the wording is...less than helpful. Most of the time I can understand what they are trying to ask, but I have run into a few that make me really irritable with the person who made the questionnaire, quiz, or test.

Sometimes this is actually done on purpose. I went ahead and looked up the test you mentioned (Since it wasn't one I was familiar with it) and took it to get context.

I scored a 112 btw. As a male. So pretty much consistent with all the other tests I have taken, I tend to be on the threshold for what could be autism.

Anyway, the point being that in the test I saw 3 questions which they repeated. Almost word for word (But some were worded differently). When you see a questionnaire do this, it is because they want to see if you respond differently if it is worded differently. The way the question is framed can alter the perception and the response. I personally get irritated by this, but I do know why they do it. And still other times I feel questions are wishy-washy...not direct enough to be useful (Which is what you described).

But, just like HeroOfHyrule wrote, the test isn't to indicate whether you ARE Autistic. It is to determine if you are Camouflaging Autistic Traits. If you are Autistic, you can expect certain results. If you are NT, you should expect others.

Based on my results: If I am Autistic, I am supposedly in decent mental health. A few things could be better for me. If, on the other hand, I am NT, I am in trouble, because my scores are too high for my mental health to be stable.

...I admit I am stressed with several things happening lately, but aside from the stressors (Which are also indicators of Autism TBH), I am usually seen as being in pretty good mental health overall. So that leads me to side with the assessment that I am on the spectrum.

Nothing new there...I am pretty sure I am, but I just need to get to the point where I am diagnosed.



Something Profound
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26 Aug 2021, 11:58 pm

Interestingly, the RAADS-R, which is also on the site that allowed me to take the CAT-Q test, scores me at nearly double of what all the thresholds are, so it strongly urges me to get assessed 8O

http://www.aspietests.org/raads/questio ... cale=en_GB

I will probably have to retake the questionnaire when I have someone around to help me answer, because it recommends you don't take the questionnaire by yourself. I suppose it doesn't trust me answering honestly.

*shrug*



AngelL
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27 Aug 2021, 8:40 am

Something Profound wrote:
Interestingly, the RAADS-R, which is also on the site that allowed me to take the CAT-Q test, scores me at nearly double of what all the thresholds are, so it strongly urges me to get assessed 8O

http://www.aspietests.org/raads/questio ... cale=en_GB

I will probably have to retake the questionnaire when I have someone around to help me answer, because it recommends you don't take the questionnaire by yourself. I suppose it doesn't trust me answering honestly.

*shrug*


I am usually the first to believe, "I suppose it doesn't trust me to answer honestly" but in this case, as I looked over the questions, I know I'd feel better having an interpreter around. My Cat-Q was ~150 - around 150 because there were a couple of questions in which I just went with "neither agree nor disagree" because I couldn't grok the question. Here's a couple of examples for your viewing pleasure... ;)

18. I am always aware of the impression I make on other people.

Some people respond to seeing homeless beggars with compassion - others with contempt. I don't "make" the impression - the one experiencing does. But I can ignore that. What I can't ignore is, "I am *always* aware..." How would I know? How would anyone know? I once hid twenty-four colored eggs for Easter for my daughter. After she had found three of them, she declared that she had found them all. She didn't know what she didn't know - and either does anyone else. There is absolutely no way for someone having a subjective experience to know the answer to this one.

12. I don't feel the need to make eye contact with other people if I don't want to.

Again, I get tripped up with 'feel the need' but moving past that... Some people yes, others no. If I'm talking to the person who used to beat me unmercifully for not looking them in the eye when talking to them? Probably qualifies as 'feel the need'. A cop pulls me over and demands to know where I'm heading...also probably a good idea. Talking to you? Not so much. Talking to my therapist? Also not a problem. Okay, one more...

10. I need the support of other people in order to socialize.

A great big "WTF" on this one, for me. I don't enjoy socializing. That fact makes the question seem pretty analogous to, "I need the support of other people to rip my fingernails off". In both cases the act is painful and undesirable (to me). I suppose that I *can* do it on my own - but won't. The idea of having someone with me for 'support' would be counter-productive to me. I would feel like I have to mask for them, or entertain them, or figure out when I'm allowed to have a boundary and when I'm supposed to let them 'help' me go somewhere I don't want to be so I can spend time with people I don't want to be with doing things I don't want to do.



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27 Aug 2021, 11:10 am

I had a few issues with the questions too. There was some ambiguity to them that I couldn't quite suss out and make sense of without ignoring some glaring subjectivity problems. I also disliked the usage of the word "Always" that was employed so consistently throughout the questionnaire. I don't "always" do any of those things, even before the age of 16. I did them enough for it to be memorable, but "always" was a bit much. I am sure that some people do do those things "always," but it isn't cut and dry.

I think that the purpose of the wording is an additional assessment tool. For the RAADS-R there is a suggestion that a licensed Autism Specialist should be asking the questions, and if that is the case, the way you respond to a question can also be data relevant to the assessment. If, for instance, I get stuck on details like the meaning of the word "Always," or you @AngelL get stuck on the words "Feel the need," then that could be information that signifies something related to Autistic traits. That might be the true purpose of the test, and less about the actual questions.

But I am not aware of whether there is more meaning behind the intention of the questions than just what is seen on the surface. These questionnaires have a bit of mystery to them that most of us may not fully be able to understand.



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27 Aug 2021, 5:03 pm

I'd have a bit of trouble with the word "rarely," because I wouldn't know how rare they meant, and with some such questions it would be difficult to trawl back through my life to find how rare the thing was in my case. The concept of "feeling the need" is also rather vague, but I think I'd probably be able to fudge my way through that without much trouble. I'd be able to answer this question:

"I rarely feel the need to smash up my room - true or false?"

The answer would be "true" because I've never had the remotest urge to smash up my room. If I'd occasionally felt like smashing up my room, I'd have more trouble answering the question. Of course it could be argued that "never" isn't the same as "rare," but somehow I sense that for the purpose of a question like that, "never" would qualify. I suppose I managed to get that from the context, asking myself "what would such a question be looking for?" - so I would think they just wanted to know if I was getting such a destructive urge more frequently than the average person or not, and the answer to that would be "not," so I would then be able to say it was true that I rarely feel the need to smash up my room. I'm usually mindful that health professionals tend to be looking for signs of the client being a danger to self or others, so even if I did get the occasional urge to break things, I'd consider telling them I didn't.

These days I often do fudge things, because I've learned that the alternative - overthinking - can waste a lot of my time and effort. So if I start to notice myself disappearing down too deep a rabbit hole I often just hazard a guess rather than ending up paralysed.

But I still can't honestly guess my way through some things. For example, the first question on the AQ test:

1. I prefer to do things with others rather than on my own.

https://psychology-tools.com/test/autis ... m-quotient

The answer is "no" in the sense that I often find it much easier to do things on my own than to have others involved and I'm often disappointed in the results of collaborative music for example, compared to what I could achieve alone.

But the answer is "yes" in the sense that I see collaboration as a higher road than solo work, I'm always loathe to pass up a chance of working with others, and even when collaborated music turns out worse (to my ears) than I think it would if it were all my own work, I question that, and wonder if it could be that I've applied too much of the wrong kind of perfectionism, and whether I'll feel the same way about it later.

So my answer would have to be "it depends." But that answer isn't allowed. I could tick "slightly agree," but that doesn't really capture the truth very well, and "slightly" and "definitely" actually get the same score, though the client isn't normally told that:

How to score your answers:
“Definitely agree” or “Slightly agree” responses to questions 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 33, 35, 39, 41, 42, 43, 45, 46 score 1 point.
“Definitely disagree” or “Slightly disagree” responses to questions 3, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 34, 36, 37, 38, 40, 44, 47, 48, 49, 50 score 1 point.

http://aspergerstest.net/interpreting-aq-test-results/

I get the impression I apply "too much" intelligence to these things, but in this case it's not helpful for me to try to ignore my diligent findings, because it's still the case that the only honest answer I can give to the question is "yes and no," or "it depends."



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27 Aug 2021, 11:44 pm

Tests that tend to offer any level of subjectivity, whether by nature of the question ("I Rarely feel...") or by the options for answers (Agree/Slightly Agree/Slightly Disagree/Disagree) can be really infuriating for all those reasons you stated @ToughDiamond. Yet it is hard to be unambiguous, and sometimes, as I noted, some questions rely on the ambiguity to get meaningful data.

Take for instance the AQ test. First...I did not actually bother to read the scoring criteria (I find it tends to make me overthink the test if I actually know the process, and that feels like cheating, which I hate to do), so that explains why I can't ever seem to get out of the 34-36 range for that test (I assumed half points were awarded depending on the slightly/definitely answers given). However, more importantly, if a professional were asking these questions, they would be noting the discomfort these questions cause, the irritation that arises when the question is asked in a way that allows for such ambiguity. This is data itself that would probably make the professional give a positive +1 score to the question even if you answered in a way that would not warrant it.

For people who have ASD, this can be pretty disconcerting. We dislike ambiguity (And I can and will include myself on this point even if I end up not being on the spectrum, which is more and more doubtful the more I feel these conversations confirm a positive diagnosis for me). That is one of the things that sets us apart from NT's. It can be a strength, but also a pitfall, and in this instance, a professional who has the trained skill to recognize the significance of reactions that come up from such simple queries might be easily missed by us otherwise. To us, it is just a frustrating question. But to a professional, it could indicate something entirely relevant to a diagnosis.



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28 Aug 2021, 12:14 am

I tend to pick questions apart as well. The AQ was administered as part of my ASD assessment but it was done verbally and I was able to explain my frustration with each question, giving many points of view for each scenario. I got 49/50 during the verbal which is also what I tend to get with the online version, no matter which way I interpret the questions. I'm not sure which one I keep missing?


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28 Aug 2021, 12:56 am

Something Profound wrote:
Tests that tend to offer any level of subjectivity, whether by nature of the question ("I Rarely feel...") or by the options for answers (Agree/Slightly Agree/Slightly Disagree/Disagree) can be really infuriating for all those reasons you stated @ToughDiamond. Yet it is hard to be unambiguous, and sometimes, as I noted, some questions rely on the ambiguity to get meaningful data.

Take for instance the AQ test. First...I did not actually bother to read the scoring criteria (I find it tends to make me overthink the test if I actually know the process, and that feels like cheating, which I hate to do), so that explains why I can't ever seem to get out of the 34-36 range for that test (I assumed half points were awarded depending on the slightly/definitely answers given). However, more importantly, if a professional were asking these questions, they would be noting the discomfort these questions cause, the irritation that arises when the question is asked in a way that allows for such ambiguity. This is data itself that would probably make the professional give a positive +1 score to the question even if you answered in a way that would not warrant it.

For people who have ASD, this can be pretty disconcerting. We dislike ambiguity (And I can and will include myself on this point even if I end up not being on the spectrum, which is more and more doubtful the more I feel these conversations confirm a positive diagnosis for me). That is one of the things that sets us apart from NT's. It can be a strength, but also a pitfall, and in this instance, a professional who has the trained skill to recognize the significance of reactions that come up from such simple queries might be easily missed by us otherwise. To us, it is just a frustrating question. But to a professional, it could indicate something entirely relevant to a diagnosis.

Yes, and if a test is administered verbally then it's impossible for them to force a response - so for example during my diagnostic interviews I gave full answers complete with whatever nuances I felt were important. I didn't feel any frustration because I didn't try to answer the questions absolutely directly if I thought it more appropriate not to. So I was always able to say "well, it depends, you see [insert nuanced, accurate explanation]" But the AQ test is normally done either via a written form or other robotic method, and they're forced-response - I've read that some professionals think that's a flaw - so apart from leaving some questions unanswered there's no way to avoid giving misleading responses.

I also agree about the advantage of doing a questionnaire without knowing how it works. But that kind of assumes a certain trust in whoever asks the questions. Sometimes the people being studied are almost too clever to be treated in the way the people studying them want to treat them. I remember hearing from some psychology students who became suspicious and resentful towards their tutors who kept misleading them in order to get accurate answers from the academic exercises they got them to do.



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28 Aug 2021, 1:11 am

I may have said this before somewhere on WP, but the one that really trips me up is "Would you rather go to the theatre or a museum?" Like, wtf.

Thoughts:
- Do they mean live theatre, like a Broadway show or opera, or do they mean a movie theatre?
- What is the show?
- If it's live theatre and I have good seats I'd pick that (it's a dark room, no real interaction with others)
- If it's a cinema, same thing -- what's the show? -- do I have good seats? -- am I sat near noisy morons?
- What's the exhibit at the museum?
- If it's a crowded one on a school day with kids and tourists everywhere, forget it
- I have more agoraphobia in a big museum, walking around among strangers than sat in a theatre
- But I do love history
- My favourite place in the world is the Bronte Parsonage Museum
- I wouldn't want to have to walk around a big museum making small talk with a companion
- At least in a theatre you don't have to talk (or walk, or mill around with people)
- Also is this free? -- because stage shows can be expensive although they're usually worth it

This is the kind of dialogue I had with my assessor for virtually every question.

I think the point of the question is "Would you rather be near people (theatre) or near artefacts (museum)?", meaning do I prefer people or things. But the question doesn't give enough detail for me to decide. The museum could be swarming with people, and you have to talk to tour guides etc. The theatre could be a cosy box seat where you hear an amazing and inspirational musical, without speaking to anyone. You could hide in your seat in the dark.

So yeah, the questions make no sense even though I can gather their general intention.


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kraftiekortie
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28 Aug 2021, 7:56 am

To an American, “going to the theatre” only means going to a play or musical. We never say we’re “going to the theatre” when we are going to the movies. No ambiguity for an American.

My point…..is that the test questions might be interpreted differently by individuals who live in diverse places.



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28 Aug 2021, 8:31 am

I agree it almost certainly means live theatre. It could also mean a lecture theatre, or an operating theatre though -- if you want to get specific, but without any context I assume that's not what they mean.

So even if it's live theatre, and the intention is do I prefer theatre (people) or museums (things), my response would have to be conditional.

Theatre PROS:
My love of live theatre doesn't mean I love "people". It means I love the music of an ensemble / orchestra, or cosy chairs in beautiful old theatres. It's very sensory because I even like the smell of a theatre. You have anonymity because you don't have to talk to anyone during the show. It's a dark room. Maybe I've read the book (like Les Mis, or CATS). Even though it's about people, I can likely ignore people and go into my head watching the show.

Theatre CONS:
Depending on the show you may need to get dressed up in something uncomfortable, to be formal. People might be wearing fragrance which would give me a migraine. Heaven forbid there be snobby people about, or a need to feel pretentious.

Museum PROS:
I like artefacts and things.

Museum CONS:
It could be crowded with school kids or noisy tours. You have to walk around a lot instead of sitting still in a theatre (I'm had strokes and right now my foot is sprained). I get agoraphobia in big open places, even indoors. There's not much sensory because I can't touch anything, and museums don't usually have a smell. They smell sterile. They might have bright lighting. If there's tile floors I'll get misophonia hearing people's footsteps or high heels. Even though it's about "things", I'll have to interact with people a lot -- which defeats the purpose.

I can't choose unless I know all the parameters. But in my testing I told the doctor this rationale, and said if it's a matter of people vs things, I choose things.


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28 Aug 2021, 8:46 am

I interpreted "theater" as going to a movie. I considered it going to a loud, overwhelming movie VS going to a nice, quiet museum and as a sensory question. I picked the museum. lol



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28 Aug 2021, 9:02 am

“Operating theatre” does not exist in American English. We call it the “operating room.”

Liking to go to a movie doesn’t mean you like people, or even the presence of people. It means, more, that you like large screens, enhanced sounds, or both. Socialization occurs after the movie.

People certainly don’t socialize in movie theaters; they’re more likely to socialize in live theatres, during intermission. In general, live theatre is more of a “social” place than a movie theater.