196… yep, still out there in aspie land

I just re-took the The Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale-Revised (RAADS-R). I’d taken it years ago, and it was one of the tests that really caught my attention and seemed reliable – in that it factored in what happened when you were a kid, as well as what’s happening with you as an adult.

And here are my most recent results from 10 May:

RAADS-R-results

http://www.aspietests.org/raads/questions.php?show=3ba3b66897315&locale=en_GB

196, huh? Guess that situates me well within that spectrum. Just where the others are starting to get more rare, and there are almost NO neurotypical folks. And yes, that would be consistent with my experience. Precious few people know what an odd duck I am. I have enough taste to keep that discretely tucked away.

After all, I am Aspie Woman. Hear me not roar at all. Especially when it comes to my neurodiversity in the midst of aggressively NT-normative crowds. It’s not worth the fight, to me.

It’s repeatedly validating to see that no, I’m not just some crazy middle-aged woman looking for weirdness where none exists. I’m not making this up. It’s an actual phenomenon. And here I am, living it.

The one argument I have with this test, is that it seems to take a blanket approach to the questions. I wish there were more texture to it, more variations possible within the answer blocks. It’s not at all contextual, it doesn’t factor in subtlety that’s the hallmark of aspie women’s experience, and it doesn’t offer the Always – Often – Sometimes – Rarely – Never options you get with other tests.  That’s a bit annoying, especially since this test is highly regarded and diagnostically pretty spot-on, from what I’ve read.

Sometimes the things listed in the test are true for me, other times, not. But I erred on the side of saying, if it’s been known to happen to me a lot, then the answer is Yes.

For the sake of comparison, I should probably re-take the test from a on-my-best-day point of view, and see how I score. That would be a tricky thing, however — and I’m not sure how accurate I’d be able to be. Because there’s the the confounding factors of experience and learned behavior. My instant analysis skills have sharpened so dramatically, compared to when I was a kid, that a lot of neurotypical behavior appears to come naturally to me… while there’s a split-second set of calculations going on inside my head that are anything but instinctive.

Someone tweeted yesterday —

– not broken enough to be seen/heard.

– too broken to be seen/heard

And amen to that, because that’s exactly what it’s like. Especially as a woman on the spectrum. People in general have NO idea just how tightly wedged into our roles, women can be. And there’s constant reinforcement of the “right” way to be a woman. Even if you diverge a bit in terms of clothing and mannerisms, you’re continuously reminded of the “correct” way to talk and think and walk and behave and interact. It’s subtle, and for those who are paying attention — especially because we don’t conform — it’s brutal.

So, a big part of my dilemma with this test, as with so many (which are informed by male patterns of autism), is that no matter how hard I try to be accurate, there will always be some element of forced normalcy to my immediate response. And dredging up a truer reflection of my situation, my outlooks, my personality, my issues, takes a lot of effort — and the effort can be quite unsettling, as well.

Also, a lot of these criteria apply to me frequently, although not constantly. Or they don’t occur all that frequently, but when they do show up… Wheeeee!!!! We’re off on a wild ride. From day to day, things can change. I can feel better or worse, I can function well or less well. But on my worst most challenging days, what’s really true of me?

What indeed?

I think I’ll work my way through the RAADS-R test with multiple scenarios and see how it turns out. I really like the test, but I think it could use some more variation on it. Where that’s absent in the tool itself, I’ll supply my own. Heck, I’m a coder. I could even come up with my own version that adds in the variations and textures of variable conditions. I think it might actually be fairly easy to do, provided I’m smart about it. The back-end calcs may be able to accommodate my tweaks.

We’ll see.

All in all, I’m really glad there are so many online tests to help us come to terms with our situations. They help us understand. They help us articulate. And despite their limitations, they act as bridges to help us connect. And that’s a good thing. For all of us.

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