Australian Scale for Asperger Syndrome
Garnett and Attwood, 1995 (original authors)
Modified and Copyright © Roger N. Meyer, 2000
[Note: This unapproved adult Asperger Syndrome Rating Scale is based on the
Attwood Australian scale found in Tony Attwood (1998) Asperger Syndrome on pages
17-19. Language and concepts were taken from the Australian scale, and credit is
due its authors for such items. This version upgrades items in the 1995 scale
into adult age and task-specific questions. The number of questions is more than
double those in the Australian scale, reflecting the complexity of adult issues.
Readers should use the 6-point Likert scale in the Attwood book for rating the
response to each question, and be guided by instructions found on page 20 and
following pages. Additional instructions for this scale appear at the end of
this document. Author note: The term "person" has been substituted for "child".
The politically incorrect terms "he", "him", or "his" refers to persons of both
A. Social and Emotional Abilities
1. Does the person lack understanding of how to play adult games with others?
For example, unaware of the unwritten social rules of leisure and recreation.
2. During unstructured time such as work breaks and informal social events, does
he avoid social contact? For example, eats alone, reads or continues to work.
3. Is the person unaware of social conventions or codes of conduct including
unwritten rules at work? Does he make inappropriate comments or actions? For
example, is he unaware of the offending or other unintended effect of his
4. Does the person lack empathy, i.e., an intuitive understanding of another
person's feelings? For example, is he not likely to offer an apology or
acknowledge his responsibility for a relationship that has failed?
5. Does the person expect other people to know his thoughts, experiences and
opinions? For example, he doesn't realize that you couldn't know about something
because you were not there at the time. Does he presume you know what you are
thinking when you are in the same physical place but your attention has not been
directed to him?
6. Does the person worry excessively or fret about things that change or that
don't go as expected? Does the person demand frequent reassurance that matters
7. Does the person express concern about loneliness or a tendency to
self-isolate? Is he frustrated or anxious about not having any friends or only a
few friends? Does he say that he does not know how to make friends?
8. Does the person express emotions bluntly? Does he "blurt out" his emotional
expressions in ways out of scale to the situation, or before or after emotional
expression is expected?
9. Does the person mean to express one emotion but actually express another?
10. Does the person have an unusual attitude towards competition? For example,
is he aversive to competitive activities such as sports, games or workplace
performance contests? Does he act competitively in activities that call for
collaboration and cooperation?
11. Does the person demonstrate indifference to normal or expected peer
pressure? Is he generally unaware of widespread crazes or fashions of the
12. Does the person vocalize exceptionally strong approval or disapproval of
benign acts and the choice behaviors of others? Does he attempt to impose his
choice as "the only choice" in situations allowing optional choices by others?
For example, food preferences, cultural activities, techniques of task
performance, and social entertainment.
13. Is the person unaware of others' different styles of learning? If he is
aware, is he intolerant of styles other than his own?
14. Does the person not easily modify his behavior while in the presence of
persons of different rank or strangers? For example, choice of attire, posture
and gestures, addressing the other(s)by their first name(s), making
inappropriate demands on the time of others, and not being aware of the
differing deference conduct of others. If he is aware, is he critical of that
conduct? Does he expect everyone to accept him just as he is?
15. Does the person have difficulty accepting criticism, correction, and
direction? Does he have
a problem offering the same to others?
16. Does the person have difficulty managing conflict, disagreement, and
negotiation? Does he
person have trouble with social problem-solving behavior? Does he confront
others over differences, pout, or withdraw from the situation in an untimely way
rather than remain in uncomfortable or difficult situations?
17. Does the person understand the reason for physical boundaries, personal
space, and others' needs for privacy?
18. Does the person report life-long issues with explosive anger, rage, and
lingering resentment over ancient slights?
19. Does the person seen to function in ways suggesting a constant low level of
B. Communication Skills
20. Does the person take words, phrases, or directions literally? Does he not
understand figures of speech and common clichés without explanation? Does he not
understand sarcasm? Does he have trouble understanding humor? Does he have an
unusual sense of humor? Does he not understand the function of banter and small
20. Does the person have an unusual tone of voice (monotone, sing-song an
"affected" foreign accent, unusual inflections, prosody, and other oddities of
fluid speech? Does he speak with an unusually loud or soft volume level? Does he
use changes of tone, inflection, or volume levels appropriate for different
levels of conversational formality, location, and topic choice?
21. When talking, does the person appear uninterested in your side of the
conversation? Does he speak in a monologue, exert inappropriate control over the
flow or subject matter of conversation, otherwise not consistently engage in a
fluid, reciprocal exchange? Is he uncomfortable with pauses or silence in paired
or group conversation? Does he fail to observe turn taking rules? Does he
interrupt others despite repeated correction? Does he have trouble closing a
conversation? Does he miss gestural, postural and facial cues of boredom,
agreement, dissatisfaction, impatience and intention to end conversation?
22. Is the person prone to "go off on tangents" and otherwise become distracted
by a minor topic? For example, if there is an agreed-upon agenda, does he have
trouble sticking to it ?Does he return to something already discussed "for one
23. While directly engaged in conversation, does the person use less eye contact
than you would expect? Does he appear to either stare away from you or have a
vacant expression when listening or talking? Do his facial gestures, body
posture and stance project messages different than his words?
24. Is the person's speech over-precise, pedantic, or "professor-ish"? Does he
tend to challenge
or correct the word choices of others?
25. Once started, does the person demonstrate an encyclopedic knowledge of a
topic? Do you have the sense that regardless of your interest, he starts
conversations just to talk about his own? Regardless of what is being discussed,
does he repeatedly return to his topic of interest?
26. Does the person have difficulty summarizing or "getting to the gist" when
reporting conversations or describing events? Does he "ramble" without focus?
27. Does the person say that others characterize him negatively as "a
28. Does the person have problems repairing a conversation? For example, when he
is confused or has lost the train of thought, has he earlier failed to check in
to track whether he is "on the same page"? Once confused, does he ask for
clarification or redirection? Does he abruptly switch to a different topic
without using transition phrases?
29. Does the person engage in audible self-talk during a conversation? When
asked questions, does he offer responses that seem repetitive, scripted or askew
given the context and the topic of conversation? Does he take an unusually long
time responding in conversational give and take?
Cognitive and Executive Function Skills
30. Does the person have specific learning disabilities? Examples are problems
with math functions and/or written math problems, a history of precocious
reading combined with comprehension issues, slow reading speed, dyslexia, bad
handwriting, speech delay and pragmatic language problems, short-term working
memory deficits leading to frequent checking and reconfirmation behavior, little
understanding of the functions of a given behavior, difficulty in perceiving
differences between experiences and adjusting responses in accord with new
information, repetitive and dysfunctional study habits and learning behaviors
with obvious difficulty stopping or changing them.
31. Does the person report having trouble with understanding and following
directions? Does he do things "his way" despite directions and instructions
requiring a different approach to task completion or performance?
32. Does the person have problems multi-tasking? Must he complete a single
activity before" catching up" to perform others? Does he prefer step-by-step
instruction? Does he become agitated when given multiple tasks or directed to
change his priorities? Can he describe his style of learning? Does he report
frustration or stress when being instructed to learn in ways that do not comport
with his learning style?
33. Does he report major study skills impediments in K-12, post-secondary
education or vocational and on-the-job training and instruction?
34. Does the person become disoriented when presented first with the "big
picture" of a job? At that moment, does he not want to understand the function
of a given task in a greater scheme?
35. From reports of others or self-reports, would the person consider himself a
"dreamer" or "off in my own world" some or much of the time?
36. Does the person have projects or interests that others do not understand
regardless of his efforts to explain them?
37. Does the person have limited interests? Would the person characterize most
of his interests as "technical" rather than "artistic"?
38. Does the person have time management difficulties?
39. Does the person have difficulty with large projects, prioritizing and
sequencing tasks, setting and keeping to schedules, and knowing when "enough is
40. Does the person have an exceptional long-term memory for events and facts?
41. Does the person report no benefit from meditation, visualization, and
similar means of "imaginative" stress management?
42. Does the person have intense reaction to change; as much trouble with small
changes as big changes? Examples are changes in a route or delivery schedule,
restaurant menu changes or moving to a new location.
43. Does the person frequently engage in black and white thinking? Does he have
trouble with "gray areas" and with others "bending the rules"?
44. Does the person have an unusual sense of justice, morality, and notions of
45. Does the person "tell the truth, and the whole truth" regardless of the
circumstances or consequences? Does his frankness get him into trouble?
46. Is the person drawn to rules and regulations, protocols, procedures, and
writing or following directives and standards? Does the person have a high
interest in "quality work"?
47. Is the person a perfectionist? Does he express pleasure with being
extraordinarily precise and detail oriented?
48. Does the person find great comfort in performing rote, repetitive tasks that
for a person of their intelligence and education is puzzling to others?
49. Does the person appear to maintain a high state of vigilance and suspicion?
50. Is the person likely to be intense and alert with matters of interest, and
nonchalant or dismissive of matters he doesn't consider important?
51. Does the person have money management difficulties?
52. Does the person procrastinate, and is he concerned about it?
53. Is the person subject to unexplainable bouts of impulsivity?
54. For his age and stage of life, is the person uncharacteristically
conservative and equally hesitant about making small and major decisions?
55 For work and other relationships, does the person have difficulty "reading
another person's mind"? Examples would be not anticipating and acting to address
a work colleague's functional and emotional needs. The same applies to a
partner's unarticulated needs for emotional, sexual satisfaction and social as
well as physical companionship.
56. Does the person describe his behavior as being a like a packrat, unable to
part with things of little or no intrinsic value? Is the opposite true? Does the
person impulsively give things away or discard items known to have a future
57. Does the person have difficulty in organizing personal records, forgetting
appointments and important commitments or constantly misplacing important
Somatic, Motoric and Presentation Issues
58. Does the person describe himself as clumsy, uncoordinated or prone to
accidents? Examples are difficulty performing assembly work, sewing and
household repairs, activities requiring bilateral coordination and sensory
59. Does the person not exercise regularly or maintain good physical condition?
60. Does the person have bad feelings about his body and his appearance?
61. Does the person have unusual posture or an unusual walking/running gait?
62. Even when sitting or in situations that are low-stress, does the person
engage in small repetitive, self-stimulatory behaviors? Examples would be
knuckle cracking, pencil tapping, fidgeting, hand steepling, grimaces or tics,
playing with keys or jewelry, tightening of the jaw, eyebrow arching,
scratching, nail-biting, and sighing or low-level vocalization.
63. Does the person have digestive difficulties? Examples would be celiac
disease, gluten or casein intolerance, and chronic bowel disorders such as
irritable bowel syndrome.
64. Does the person have strong sensory reactions to touch, light, particular
sounds, preference for soft or loose clothing, certain odors, texture aversions
(extending to certain objects such as paper, and certain foods)? Does the person
avoid crowds or have very wide personal space boundaries
65. Does the person have a marked insensitivity to pain, heat or cold, or have a
bad sense of personal safety?
66. Does the person have bad hygiene and poor self-care habits?
67: Does the person engage in public self-grooming behavior ordinarily done in
68. Does the person show a preference for a limited range of clothing to the
point of his dress being very predictable to others? If "Yes", would it be
accurate to describe this limited wardrobe as a kind of "uniform"?
69. Does the person report discomfort cuddling, hugging, or being held and
70. Does the person report low sexual desire or a-sexuality? Has the person been
repeatedly warned about inappropriate touching or behaviors considered by the
object person to be sexual harassment or stalking? Does the person say they
never understood dating, or have given up interest in dating?
71: Does the person have sleep disturbance? Examples would be difficulty falling
asleep, waking early, restless sleep and discomfort in sleeping with a partner.
Other Characteristics (Use checkboxes)
72. Does the person report difficulty living with others, or becoming
independent from parents or other care givers?
73. Does the person have elaborate, rigidly-adhered to rituals? Examples are
self-care habits, eating, having a work area arranged "just so"," arranging
personal effects in a precise order, and ways of getting to and from places.
74. Does the person have a strong attraction to certain visual or auditory
75. Does the person report information about developmental delays or uneven
functional development as a child? In school, was he enrolled in a special
76. Does the person consider himself to be emotionally immature? Do you agree?
77. Does the person have any history of seizure activity, or demonstrate absence
and other low level seizure behavior?
78. Does the person expend so much energy just getting through the work day or
school that he has no energy left for "a life outside" of those activities?
79. Has the person turned down management positions with statements to the
effect that he is not "a management type person"? Has he been promoted to a
management position and then demoted or removed due to lack of her
80. Has the person had trouble retaining employment? Is there a long history of
many jobs, part-time, unpaid, underpaid work, and temporary or short-duration
[paraphrase and additions to Attwood, 1998, p. 20]
Many items on this adult scale are not found in the Garnett and Attwood (1995)
scale. They have been added to reflect the variety of challenges and issues
common to adult life. The same general point as made in the Garnett and Attwood
scale applies here: Even if there is a "Yes" answer to a majority of these
questions, and if the rating is between two and six as per the Australian scale,
this does not necessarily imply that the person has Asperger Syndrome.
Nonetheless, there is a possibility that the person being seen is on the high
functioning end of the autistic spectrum. Referral to a medical professional
experienced in diagnosing adult Asperger Syndrome is warranted. Medical
diagnosis as opposed to diagnosis by non-medically trained mental health
professionals is strongly recommended. If the person is ever to seek entitlement
program eligibility, such diagnoses are less subject to challenge by disability