Autism Spectrum

About Autism

The autism spectrum (ASD) represents a wide range of behaviors and abilities, with differences in sociability, interests, and attention. Some of the strengths associated with autism are a deep passion for and commitment to one's interests, a systems mindset, attention to detail, and strong pattern recognition skills.

Screening Tools and Self-Assessment

Autism – Autism Spectrum Disorder in Adults Self-Test - This free self-test is for adults to take for personal use and to share with a health professional for evaluation. Adapted from the Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ).

Autism – Clinical Partners Quick Autism test - Thirty question test to identify if you are experiencing common behaviors and thoughts associated with being on the Autistic Spectrum. The results alone do not form a formal diagnosis. The questions are based on an evidence-based screening tool – the Autism Spectrum Quotient.

Autism – Autism Spectrum Quotient - Published in 2001 by Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at the Cambridge Autism Research Center on The Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ). It measures the expression of Autism-Spectrum traits through self-assessment.

Mental Health Screenings (Variety) – - Offers a wide variety of clinically validated screening questionnaires to identify mental health issues.

Organizations and Resources

Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) - ASAN is a nonprofit organization run by and for autistic people.

​Asperger/Autism Network - AANE is a network aimed at helping people on the autism spectrum build meaningful, connected lives.

Interesting Articles

Temple Grandin Wants Us to Think Differently About Kids Who Think Differently - Here David Marchese interviews Temple Grandin, a pioneer in Autism Activism and an autistic professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University.

From Scientific Literature

Below, you will find some summaries of literature articles we have hand-selected for you. These articles tend to focus more on strengths rather than weaknesses, which aligns with the main focus of our work: highlighting the strengths that neurodiverse individuals possess while also acknowledging the significant challenges they face at times.

Brief Report: Character Strengths in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder Without Intellectual Impairment

Kirchner, Ruch, W., & Dziobek, I. (2016). Brief Report: Character Strengths in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder Without Intellectual Impairment. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(10), 3330–3337.

This study aimed to explore the personality strengths and characteristics of autistic individuals. Previous research has identified strengths in autistic individuals related to their cognitive style, special interests, and positive aspects of personality. The researchers decided to focus on examining strengths associated with personality characteristics such as fairness, authenticity, and reliability, as well as the connection between character strengths and satisfaction with life. 

The VIA Character Strengths assessment tool was used, and statistical measures were employed for analysis. Autistic participants received compensation for their participation. The results showed that autistic individuals scored lower on interpersonal and emotional strengths compared to the control group but did not differ in most intellectual strengths and strengths of restraint.

The study highlighted the systematic decision-making approach in autistic individuals, who tend to base judgments on rules and patterns rather than empathetic information. Additionally, autistic participants were found to form fewer social stereotypes and were less likely to adapt their behavior to improve their social reputation. 

The study also revealed that emotional and interpersonal strengths, including hope, zest, kindness, humor, social intelligence, and teamwork, had the strongest positive associations with satisfaction with life in the ASD group. This emphasizes the importance of training social and emotional competencies in autistic individuals.

Some of the key takeaways include the importance of considering the fit between an individual's character strengths and their environment, as well as the potential positive impact of utilizing signature strengths in work settings, which are a person’s top five character strengths. The researchers emphasized the need for further research to explore how exercising character strengths, particularly signature strengths, can enhance outcomes such as satisfaction with life and at work in autistic individuals.


Exceptional Abilities in Autism: Theories and Open Questions

Uddin, L. Q. (2022). Exceptional Abilities in Autism: Theories and Open Questions. Current Directions in Psychological Science : a Journal of the American Psychological Society, 31(6), 509–517.

This article delves into the often-overlooked strengths and exceptional abilities of individuals with autism, shifting the narrative from deficits to positive attributes. It introduces three key theories to explain these strengths: the hyper-systemizing theory, the weak central coherence theory, and the enhanced perceptual functioning theory (EPF).

The hyper-systemizing theory posits that individuals with autism are driven to identify patterns and lawful regularities within systems, emphasizing their attention to detail and their tendency to exhibit repetitive behaviors. In contrast, the weak central coherence theory highlights a difficulty in grasping the bigger picture, with a strong focus on minute details. The EPF theory, on the other hand, suggests that individuals with autism have heightened perceptual processing abilities, contributing to strengths like visual memory and pattern recognition.

The article recognizes that the findings from neuroimaging studies may not directly apply to twice-exceptional autistic individuals but can offer valuable guidance for future research. It emphasizes that, with appropriate support, twice-exceptional autistic individuals can make meaningful contributions to society. However, the transition to independent living poses unique challenges due to the lack of tailored services.

Ultimately, the article encourages further exploration of these unique abilities and their implications. It underscores that, despite the well-documented difficulties faced by individuals with autism, many exhibit enhanced cognitive abilities and have positive outcomes, highlighting the diverse nature of the autism spectrum.