This questionnaire is derived from the DSM-5 criteria with its own autistic spin. While the DSM-5 better acknowledges autistic people’s experiences of autism than earlier versions did, it’s still not perfect. Some autistic people may have trouble parsing what it says. This quiz may help make the criteria clearer.
There’s no need to tally up points (though I suppose you can if you want to). This isn’t an official diagnostic quiz, so there are no cutoffs. This is just here to give examples for the criteria. If you can relate to a lot, maybe tell your psychologist.
Part A: Social score
Part 1: Reciprocity with non-autistics
- As a child, others’ relationships confused me when I started school. It seemed like they already knew each other somehow.
- I used to think everyone else could read each other’s minds.
- I used to, or still do, not respond sometimes when people start talking to me.
- I used to, or still do, find it hard to start conversations.
- Sometimes I get confused about turn-taking in conversations. I don’t know when it’s my turn and I get tripped up.
- When I’m interested in a subject, I may monologue about it without realizing when the other person wants me to stop or change the subject.
- I avoid talking about my favorite things because I’m afraid I’ll come across as overbearing and people will get upset with me.
- People find my emotions unusual.
- They think I’m emotionless or cold.
- Or they think I’m unpredictably moody and too emotional.
- Sometimes I “drop off the face of the earth” when I am tired and I don’t contact my friends for long periods of time.
- It doesn’t occur to me to ask people for comfort when I’m hurt or upset.
- I struggle to make sense of others’ feelings, especially in unclear situations.
Most autistic people will not relate to every single one of these. Most, but not all, of these describe me.
Part 2: Nonverbal communication
- Eye contact makes me uncomfortable and I prefer to avoid it. I might “fake it” by looking at eyebrows, noses, mouths, or chins.
- Or: people tell me that I tend to stare.
- I don’t gesture a lot.
- When I was young, I didn’t understand pointing, even though my same-age peers did.
- My facial expressions appear very limited or very exaggerated.
- People think that I am sad, angry, or bored when I’m just showing my normal facial expression.
- My body language is unusual (or so I’m told).
Part 3: Relationships
- As a child, I didn’t know how to do imaginative play.
- Or, I only did it with other kids, and I just followed their lead.
- As a child, most of my friendships were with people much older or younger than me.
- Friendships with peers may have been arranged by adults.
- I have an unusually hard time making friends.
- I have gone through periods of time in which I had no friends at all.
- Now or in the past, making friends just wasn’t a priority and I was okay with being by myself.
- Sometimes I would try to make friends without it working out.
- I would hang out on the periphery of a friend group, trying to participate and copy them, but not fully understanding.
- I’ve never been “in touch with” current trends or interests. As a child, I didn’t understand what was so interesting about things that made other kids excited (like sports, boy bands, or fashion).
- Or I may have intentionally chosen “normal” interests or methodically researched trends (such as fashion or dating) in an attempt to fit in.
- I treat everyone about the same: family, friends, authority figures, and strangers.
- I show about the same kindness to strangers and acquaintances as I do to people I love. Just because I don’t know them well doesn’t mean they don’t deserve it.
Part B: Repetition and focus
Part 1: Stimming
- As a kid, I liked spinning toys, such as a spinning top or the wheel of a toy car.
- I lined up my toys, and/or I line up objects sometimes when I let my mind wander.
- Now or when I was younger, I would make unusual movements like rocking (back and forth or side to side), flapping hands, and other movements that people thought were odd.
- I pace a lot. It helps me think.
- I fidget a lot in subtle ways, like tapping a pencil or shaking my legs. If I try to stop myself, it’s hard to stay focused.
- When I need to think hard about something, I don’t like to sit still. I’d rather pace, wring my hands, or do other repetitive movements that help me think.
- I repeat words and phrases for fun or to help me focus.
- Now or when I was younger, I would communicate by quoting TV shows, memes, or other points of reference.
Part 2: Routines, orderliness, and transitions
- I tend to like to eat the same thing for certain meals. If that is not available, it rattles me.
- I go through “phases” with foods. For several months, I like one food for a certain meal, and then I get tired of it and move to the next one to eat for several months.
- When I go to a certain restaurant, I like to order the same thing each time.
- Transitions aren’t easy for me.
- I get stressed if plans change at the last second. I need advance notice.
- Unpredictability scares me. Following a routine helps me stay calm.
- Transitioning between tasks is harder for me than it is for most people.
- I feel like I have more inertia than other people. It takes longer for me to switch from one task to another, which can be frustrating.
- It feels nearly impossible to start a complex or un-fun task.
- I’m a perfectionist.
- Small mistakes, like typos or objects out of place, catch my eye. I fix them if possible.
- I clean and arrange places that don’t belong to me when I am idle. It’s a nice thing to do.
- At a store, I may make time to arrange displays, move items that were put on the wrong shelf, or return others’ shopping carts. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to improve it.
- In public, I may pick up litter or kick stray rocks back to their designated place.
Part 3: Special interests
- I get extremely excited when I talk about my favorite things, to the point that other people can be surprised by my enthusiasm.
- I could literally talk about my favorite topic(s) for hours. The only reason I don’t is because most people don’t want to listen for hours.
- I can research my favorite topic(s) for hours on end, then do the same thing tomorrow and not be tired of it.
- I may have read (or intend to read) hundreds or thousands of articles and books.
- I like to keep an archive of information related to my favorite topic(s). This might be books on a shelf, collections of items, a bookmarks folder in my web browser, handmade spreadsheets or manuals, or something else.
- Having favorite topic(s) is a lifesaver for me. It gets me through hard times and makes me happy.
- If I lose my favorite interests and don’t have a replacement interest, my life feels empty and sad.
- Most people are not as passionate about their favorite thing(s) as I am. Everyone loves something, but the way I do it is more intense.
- Doing schoolwork is/was much more fun if my favorite topic is involved.
- Basically, I’m in love.
Part 4: Sensory input
Your sensitivity may be heightened for some senses and/or reduced in others.
- Sometimes when I am underreacting to something startling or upsetting (like a loud noise or a sharp clothing tag), people think I am overreacting.
- Hearing: My sense of hearing is amplified.
- Loud school assemblies, concerts, and events sound like torture instead of fun.
- Sometimes I feel scared or in pain when I hear certain sounds that other people don’t react to. Sports cars, motorcycles, blenders, vacuum cleaners, and other loud sounds have felt unpleasant or painful to me.
- Sight: My eyes are sensitive.
- Bright lights hurt my eyes. When going outside on a sunny day after being indoors, I may flinch and cover my eyes.
- I look away from flashing lights in movies. I hate looking at bright screens in dark rooms.
- Visual clutter can be overwhelming for me.
- Touch: I feel so many things on my skin and it’s not easy.
- Clothing tags and itchy sweaters can be unbearably uncomfortable.
- People think I am overreacting when I get injured, but it really hurts.
- Smell/taste: I’m easily affected by strong smells and tastes.
- I only eat “mild” food. This makes it hard to find something palatable at restaurants or cafeterias.
- I notice smells that others don’t. I struggle with overpowering perfume/cologne, body odor smells, and garbage scents that don’t seem to bother other people.
- I comment on how people smell.
- I have trouble knowing whether I am having a medical issue, because when I was little and experiencing sensory pain, people would always tell me I was fine. Now I can’t tell whether I’m supposed to suffer in silence or get medical help.
- When I get overwhelmed, I may have an outburst or shut down. The stress from this can last hours or days.
Reduced sensitivity & sensory seeking
- Hearing: Sometimes I can’t hear quiet sounds that other people can hear. They say I am too noisy. I just love loud music and loud sounds.
- Sight: Sometimes it’s hard to read. I like to stare at bright lights. I may have stared at the sun as a child until I learned it was bad for me.
- Touch: I can’t always tell if I’m being touched gently, such as if there’s a bug walking on me. When I get hurt, people seem really worried even though I feel okay. Sometimes I don’t realize that I’ve been injured or don’t realize when it’s serious.
- Smell/taste: I love strong flavors and scents.
- I might not realize injuries or danger because everything feels okay to me. Other people act alarmed and tell me I’m hurting myself by doing something too intense.
Part C: It was there from a young age
Autism doesn’t just appear later in life. If it’s autism, then it was there in your early childhood.
However, that doesn’t mean everyone noticed right away. It might not have been clear to everyone until expectations got harder and harder to meet. You may have masked your difficulties, trying to copy other people.
Part D: Disability
Autism is a disability. As an autistic person, you might have struggles in socializing, school, work, home life, and/or other areas.
You are neurodivergent. Society is built for neurotypical people, and the difference is big enough for you to have a hard time.
Part E: Other explanations
These traits aren’t better explained by intellectual disability or global developmental delay.
Part F: Not in the DSM-5
These traits are barely mentioned or not mentioned in the DSM-5, but they’re well-known as being related to autism.
- My mood can change a lot. Other people say that I have big mood swings or that my moods are unpredictable (though they make sense to me).
- I may have been asked if I have, or even been misdiagnosed with, bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder.
- Sometimes I get so upset that I cry and cry and can’t feel better. Or I may scream and throw things and say things I don’t mean. Or I throw myself to the ground and sob.
- People might say I’m being difficult, but I can’t help it. It feels like the end of the world and I don’t know what else to do.
- After I’ve had time to recover, I feel pretty normal again. I may feel embarrassed or ashamed of how I acted.
- People say I’m overdramatic or too sensitive. I can’t help that I have big emotions, and it feels alienating to know that other people don’t get it.
“Difficulty with transitions” is an executive function issue, but that’s not all there is to it.
- My room/desk/house is a mess.
- I routinely leave emails untouched for days on end.
- I struggle to keep track of assignments, even when I want to succeed.
- I may cling to a day planner or calendar app because I cannot function properly without it.
- I forget to take care of important tasks. This affects my quality of life.
- I run out of favorite foods, meds, or other important things because I forget to get more.
- “Deferred maintenance” is the status quo in my house (or it would be if someone else didn’t do these things for me).
- My devices (phone, tablet, electric toothbrush) routinely die because I forgot to charge them.
- I express a large amount of gratitude when someone does a “simple” task I had been forgetting to do. To me, it isn’t so simple.
- I subside on microwavable and other easy meals because cooking is too complicated.
- I might like the idea of trying healthy recipes, but they involve so many steps. If it can’t be done in 3 minutes, it’s not happening.
- People think I’m lazy or that I don’t try hard enough. I may have started to believe this.
- I have difficulties with impulse control.
- As a child, I would be on the outskirts of social groups, trailing along behind other children and mimicking their behavior.
- As a child, I pretended to be interested in things my peers liked (such as boy bands, sports, popular TV shows, or Barbies).
- I pretend I am not uncomfortable or in pain because everyone else seems fine with a situation and I don’t want to be an inconvenience.
- I have taught myself to mimic eye contact by staring at eyebrows, noses, mouths, or chins.
- I have consciously or unconsciously redirected or suppressed types of fidgeting to avoid judgment from other people.
- I feel very different from other people, like an alien trying to fit in among humans.
- I worry that if people knew who I really am, they would reject me.
- Sometimes I enter a state of hyperfocus, to the point I am unaware of my surroundings. I may not hear phone calls or people trying to talk to me. I may completely lose track of time.
- I started reading at an unusually young age.
- I find sayings like “putting all your eggs in one basket” or “the pot calling the kettle black” to be confusing.
- I like collecting objects.
- I think gender norms are silly. They don’t make much sense to me and I don’t see why people try to enforce them. If a boy wants to play with “girl toys” or a woman wants to wear short hair and flannel, I don’t see what’s such a big deal about that.
- My speech becomes very halting or stops working sometimes.
- People tell me that my behavior was strange when I was just doing what came to me naturally.
What to do with this
I’m not going to give you score cutoffs because I can’t diagnose you. It would be silly of me to say I know exactly what type of score makes you autistic.
The goal here is to give you a better sense of the DSM 5. Use this to understand the criteria and compare them with yourself.
Also, keep in mind that you probably won’t relate to every single sentence here. Some of them don’t apply to me. (I don’t have impulsivity issues, for example.)
If you relate to some of these, it doesn’t necessarily mean autism. There are other conditions that can be mistaken for autism: ADHD, nonverbal learning disorder (which is the opposite of what you might think it is), alexithymia, and more. For example, if you relate to the sections on emotion and executive dysfunction, it could be ADHD.
Please don’t jump to conclusions. You might end up missing out on some critical self-knowledge.
These questions are based on my reading, personal experiences, and interpretation. Please don’t only rely on me as a source.
- Official criteria
- Steve Asbell’s autistic masking quiz
- Steve Asbell’s thread on the DSM 5
- Yenn Purkis’ DSM 5 Rewrite
- A study including more examples
I’m not the only one writing about this. Other people can help you too.
If you think you might be neurodivergent, you might be wondering “what’s next?”
For starters, I have tons of wikiHow articles for you!
- How to recognize signs of autism in yourself
- How to distinguish between autism and other conditions
- How to tell your parents you think you’re autistic (for those who live with parents)
- How to be ready for an autism assessment
- How to cope with an autism diagnosis or how to cope with discovering you aren’t autistic
Please feel free to check out wikiHow’s autism resources. They can help you take the next steps.
I also have autism 101 posts if you’d like to learn more.
This is a long journey. Take it slow. Remember, you’re not alone. The Autistic community is here for you, whatever you find at the end.
What does autism mean to you? What percentage of the statements do you think you relate to?
20 thoughts on “Luna’s DSM-5 Inspired Autism Quiz”
Hey there! Can you please delete everything in my previous message? I realized I want to better protect my privacy. Sorry. Thanks. It’s posted from the same email.
I totally get protecting your privacy and I’m happy to delete your comment. Unfortunately, I’m having trouble finding it. I checked all comments from the past year and didn’t see one with the same email.
However, I have a suspicion about which one is yours, so I moved it to the trash. (It was a comment with some personal info that included mention of colleges and libraries.) If I deleted the wrong one, I can un-delete it, so no harm done. If it’s the right one, I can use the “delete permanently” button on it.
Please check if your unwanted comment is gone. If not, maybe you could do one of these:
* Tell me the date and time at which you made the comment
* Copy-paste a sentence you wrote in the comment that I can use to find it (something that isn’t personal info but is long enough for me to find the comment with Control + F)
I plan to be working on blog post drafts this long weekend, so I’ll be around to check comments.
Thanks you for being so understanding, you’re awesome! I’m pretty sure my comment had nothing to do with colleges or libraries so I think it was the wrong one. The comment was written sometime in mid to late June. I know that’s not helpful but I don’t have anything more specific. I also don’t think I can copy paste a full sentence unfortunately.
Anyway, looking forward to the new posts!
Hi Ms. Luna,
My name’s Isaac, and I’m a reader from the Oregon Coast. I wanted to say that I really appreciate the diligence that you put into writing your articles and blog posts; I’m pretty sure that I’ve been reading your work since I was a teenager, but I don’t think that I’ve ever commented.
Sorry if this is a little too off-topic or personal for a blog comment, but I read that you earned your degree in informatics, which is a major that I’ve been considering because it would probably help give me a good foundation for pursuing a masters in library science later, so I was just wondering what your college experience was like overall? I’m an autistic of the not always verbal variety, and I’ve seen the statistics of how most autistics don’t get to go to college and everything, so I’m trying to learn as much as I can about different schools to figure out which ones would give me the best chance at success. I understand that the amount of support in place for autistic students varies a lot from one university to another, but I’d really appreciate even just some general advice of what to look for.
Thank you for your time and the work that you do, and have a great day!
Yes, I got a degree in informatics. My college allowed you to focus on different things within the major, and I focused on coding and things like web design, which is related to my current job. I’m not sure how that would help with library science, but perhaps there are other focuses.
While I don’t share too many details of where I’ve been for privacy reasons, I can offer a few tips about college:
– Bigger schools are more likely to have a well-staffed disability center, since a larger amount of students means a larger amount of disabled students. You should be able to find info on the disability center on the school’s website.
– I spent time hanging out at my school’s disability center and it helped me make friends who understood me a little better.
– It’s a tough adjustment at first, but it gets easier to settle into the routine and learn how college works.
– If you’re emotionally close to your family, then a nearby school that makes it easy to visit them is probably the best choice. For example, if you go to a school 30 minutes away, you can come home on the weekends sometimes.
– Being early is one of the biggest keys to success: early to class, early to start homework, et cetera.
– If the workload gets too much, especially in later semesters as difficulty increases, you can ask the disability center about a “full-time equivalency.” This means you take fewer classes per semester but still count as full time. Not all autistic students need this, but it’s an option.
– You probably will be fine without an internship your first summer, but think about getting at least one during college. It makes the transition to working life way easier.
These articles might help too:
My college start was especially rough because I was undiagnosed and far from home. Yours will probably be easier than mine. Expect to feel overwhelmed and extra tired at night for the first while. That’s normal and the neurotypical students will feel the same way, although perhaps not quite as much.
You might not be a partier, but you can still have fun in college. You’ll get to learn interesting things, chat with people who share your interests, and maybe join a club or two. There are definitely things I miss about college, although I don’t think I’d go back now that I’m working a nice job that never gives me homework. (Stable employment at a good workplace is pretty awesome.)
Once I was properly set up at college, I did well at it. Just like high school, it was hard sometimes, and midterms/finals seasons stank. At the same time, I think I grew a lot as a person and got the opportunity to prepare myself better for adult life.
So basically, it will be hard at first, but it’s doable and you will get better at it with practice. I hope my insights give you a head start on that. You managed the transition from middle school to high school, and you will probably manage the transition from high school to college just fine, despite the inevitable bumps along the way.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’ve been wondering for a while if I’m autistic and I was hoping you could give me some advice. I am currently unable to pursue a diagnosis. Below is a summarized list of symptoms that I have (I am very very sorry that it’s so long):
I stim a lot. My favorite stims include finger-flicking, singing, sniffing things, taking my earrings on and off (don’t ask me why), and wringing my hands.
As a small child, I cried because of bright lights or cold wind in my face. Extremes of temperature, especially heat, make me feel trapped and panicky. Tight shoes, or shoes that I perceive as tight, freak me out. Visually cluttered places, like thrift stores or large department stores, overwhelm me and I have to leave as soon as possible. If I’ve been in an overstimulating place—like an amusement park or an arcade—for an extended period of time, I feel drained and sort of anxious and depressed, and all I want to do is curl up on the couch and cuddle a stuffed animal until I feel better.
I often will repeat a word or sentence to myself that I heard on TV or read in a book, over and over, for no reason whatsoever.
I have been told by many people that I have a tendency to stare, even when I don’t mean to.
I am completely obsessed with Walt Disney World (especially Tomorrowland), Winnie-the-Pooh, and autism. I have a vast collection of information about those topics inside my mind, and I could talk about them all day if anyone was willing to listen.
I’m not the best at reading emotions or social cues—although this is definitely one of my milder symptoms. I’m also terrible at comforting people, although I’m trying to learn how to be better at that. I am bad at small talk and almost always rely on other people to start a conversation. It often doesn’t occur to me that I should tell a friend about something that’s a big part of my life.
I can’t stand change; breaking routine can be painful and anxiety-inducing. Even small changes, like rearranging the furniture, can stress me out to the point of hugging a stuffed animal and watching Winnie-the-Pooh in order to try and calm down.
Doing household chores is really hard for me unless I know exactly what to do, step by step. Trying to remember things such as projects to finish, things to fix, and books to read, is incredibly difficult. I lose things constantly.
I tend to monopolize the conversation, especially if it’s something I’m passionate about. Because of this, I often will not talk about something that I absolutely adore for fear of boring people.
While I can be mature in some ways, like literary analysis and political discussions, I’m very childish in other ways: I’m still afraid of the dark, I still love watching Pooh’s Heffalump Movie (I can quote 97% of the movie), and I like playing with some toys that are meant for younger children.
My emotions are very intense and often overwhelming. I can get really excited or nervous or stressed by things that other people consider sort of commonplace. When I’m really happy, I dance and skip and sing around the living room. When I’m overwhelmed—usually by negative emotions or too many changes at once—I sometimes scream and cry and yell and want to throw or kick things. Those times are very embarrassing and difficult for me to talk about, and I have little control over them. I don’t know if that could be considered a meltdown or if I’m just immature.
Does this sound like autism to you? Or am I just quirky? Please help.
LikeLiked by 1 person
So, here are the traits I’m seeing:
* Stimming, including echolalia, & sensory sensitivities
* Intense interests
* Social difficulties: a harder time understanding people, figuring out how to react, and navigating the back-and-forth evenly
* Intense need for routine and sameness
* Significant executive dysfunction
* Different emotional development relative to peers
* Emotional intensity
This could definitely be autism. It also overlaps a bit with ADHD, which is quite similar. Your traits sound more intense than what a quirky neurotypical would have, so I think it’s very likely that you’re neurodivergent.
I put most of my advice on wikiHow so it’s centralized and has a better chance of helping more people. To get lots of it, I recommend you take time to read through these articles carefully: https://www.wikihow.com/Category:Autism-Diagnosis-Process
Even though autism sounds the most likely to me, it’s still important to read the articles about how to tell the difference between autism and other things. For example, it’s possible to have 2 things at once. It’s also possible to get mixed up; I know someone with NVLD and ADHD who had been misdiagnosed with autism because the result looks similar.
You say you can’t see a specialist at that point. Specialists can be really helpful at teasing out the differences between similar types of brains. But I know there are many complex reasons that it can be hard to get a good one. So these articles may help you figure out what’s likely and what types of articles may give you the best self-help tips.
Don’t let the imposter syndrome convince you that you’re making things up. If the things you’re telling me are true to the best of your knowledge, then it sounds to me like you are definitely neurodivergent. You’re dealing with something real and you deserve the chance to learn more and find better ways to take care of yourself.
Thank you so much! I’ve read all your WikiHow articles; they have a lot of great insight. I’ve been unsure for a while because I get straight A’s and can usually tell, in general, what people are feeling (although sometimes I guess wrong and think people are irritated or sad when they’re not).
Thank you for your help and your positive perspective on autism and disability. You make the world a brighter place.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you so much for your kind words. You made my day.
Autistic people can have any level of intelligence. I got mostly straight As through high school and college. There’s also no doubt about my autism diagnosis.
If you end up pursuing diagnosis, feel free to print out the text of my quiz and show the specialist which parts apply to you!
Can you do a blog on Music (the movie), it’s very problematic and I would love to have your insight on it.
I’m not Luna, but I want to say that it’s important to consider whether a request involves emotional labor. That means that the person you’re talking to needs to go through or relive emotional pain to answer your request. That can be exhausting and just as painful as the first experience, so unless the person you’re talking to has somehow made it clear that they’re willing to undergo emotional labor, it’s usually better not to ask.
I’ve heard from quite a few Autistic people that Music is physically and/or emotionally painful for them to watch, but I’ve also seen other Autistic people review it and share their thoughts on other websites (like YouTube and Twitter). If you’re curious about what Autistic people have to say, I would look for those first. 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
I agree with Galactic Radiance. If you’d like to read a review of Music by someone #ActuallyAutistic, check out this:
Obvious trigger warning because the movie is one whole ableism-fest. But I found that review to be concise and accurate.
LikeLiked by 1 person
That’s a great suggestion! Thanks, Lola
Hi, I won’t be reviewing Music. I don’t think it would be good for me emotionally. Still, I appreciate that you value my opinion on things, so thank you! Stop by anytime. 🙂
Hi Luna, there hasn’t been a TDF chapter since november, is everything ok? It’s just you used to write regularly but it’s been 5 months. Just checking in!
I’m doing okay! A full-time job has majorly cut down on my free time, so I haven’t been able to write much.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I have to ask, because I’ve been wondering since I saw this post – is being scared by sounds that don’t scare other people enough to qualify as sensory sensitivity, or is there some other aspect of it as well (like also experiencing pain, discomfort, or some other feeling when hearing it)? Some loud noises scare me, and I can’t tell whether that’s a sensory thing or just generally being a jumpy person sometimes.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Off the top of my head, sensory sensitivity, hyperacusis, anxiety, and PTSD are all possible reasons. It would definitely help to consider exactly how you feel and why. Are you scared because you fear sensory pain? Or is it because your brain interprets this as a possible precursor to attack? It’s not necessarily easy to untangle, especially since there are several possible explanations. I hope this helps a little, at least!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Excellent insights as always. Thank you.