The Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale-Revised (RAADS-R) is a valid and reliable instrument to assist the diagnosis of adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The 80-question scale was administered to 779 subjects (201 ASD and 578 comparisons). All ASD subjects met inclusion criteria: DSM-IV-TR, ADI/ADOS diagnoses and standardized IQ testing. Mean scores for each of the questions and total mean ASD vs. the comparison groups’ scores were significantly different (p < .0001). Concurrent validity with Constantino Social Responsiveness Scale-Adult = 95.59%. Sensitivity = 97%, specificity = 100%, test–retest reliability r = .987. Cronbach alpha coefficients for the subscales and 4 derived factors were good. We conclude that the RAADS-R is a useful adjunct diagnostic tool for adults with ASD."
The 80 questions will undoubtedly strike those familiar with autism as being somewhat stereotypical; there are no options for "sometimes," either. The choices are now and as a child, now as an adult, only as a child under 16, and never. Sometimes none of those choices is quite right, and sometimes some of the questions are frustrating, like "The phrase 'I've got you under my skin' makes me very uncomfortable." WTF? What if it only mildly confuses me? Why would it make me very uncomfortable? Or "I feel very comfortable with dating or being in social situations." Really? Not every neurotypical person is going to feel VERY comfortable--it depends on all sorts of things as to what one's comfort level will be and much of that has nothing to do with being on the spectrum.
According to the journal article, which examined the international validity,
"A RAADS-R score of 65 or greater is consistent with a clinical diagnosis of ASD. A RAADS-R score of 64 or lower is not consistent with a diagnosis of ASD (sensitivity = 97%, specificity = 100%). It must be emphasized, however, that if a subject has a score of 64 or lower but clinical judgment indicates that ASD is present, the clinical judgment should take precedence. This is due to the many limitations of self-rating scales that will be elaborated upon in the discussion section."
So, 65 or higher? Hmm. Before I read the study, I took the test. I answered the questions honestly as best as I could, having no idea what the cutoff scores were for autism. My score? 107.
The scale has several subscales: language, social relatedness, sensory/motor, and circumscribed interests, and I was over the threshold on all of them, although just barely on the language subscale and social relatedness. Those were surprising, although I was not surprised that I was high on sensory/motor and circumscribed interests.
What do I do with this new information, that I score above the threshold? Nothing. Do I think I'm suddenly on the autism spectrum or that I've always been and now know just because it scored more than high enough? No.
I've long embraced my BAPpiness, and this test result doesn't change anything; it doesn't make me view myself differently. I've watched my children grow, seen how their traits and mine, Rick's and other family members are all so similar. I know my kids get it from us, that genes and environment have mingled in such a way that they qualify for and need the diagnosis to get the assistance they need, that these traits rise to varying levels of impairment in the three of them. It also leads to tremendous strengths, too, though.
So even though this test, and others like the EQ/SQ/AQ suggest that I'm highly BAPpy (and sometimes tipping over the BAPpy line), I also know that I don't need the label and if the DSM criteria itself is rigidly adhered to, I don't qualify. Being BAPpy is a good enough explanation for how I see the world differently from others--seeing myself in my kids, there's a sweetness there that's also a little bittersweet. They've got some of my traits that I'm glad to see them share and others that I know cause them difficulty, and I'm sorry they have to go through some of the same things I did and still do, but because I have and do, I can help them along, give them tips and be there to understand when it's all too much.
I think we can get hung up on labels in our search for why we are the way we are, in our attempt to find our own kind. I don't need a label to do that; I don't think that label is appropriate when disability is not a fundamental part of it. But that's my own opinion, and I respect that other people have other opinions on whether autism ought to be a personality type or a disorder.
I don't know where autism will ultimately land, if people will win the day and move it to a full, inclusive spectrum that incorporates us BAPpy people on the light end and those with severe autism that leaves them significantly disabled on the other end--if we'll find a way to discuss this in such a way that the spectrum is recognized. Heck, maybe BAPpy will catch on, and all those people who are not impaired by their cluster of traits can come over to the BAPpy side and leave autism to those who are seriously and significantly disabled by the differences in their neurology. I know for me, though, that I cannot and will not co-opt a label that is still recognized by the medical, psychological, and educational fields as a disability; it would be a disservice to my children who are hampered or disabled by their autism to say that I, too, am autistic.