Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ)

The Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ) is a screening tool designed for the identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) traits in children and adolescents. Developed with the aim of facilitating early detection of ASD, the ASSQ provides a practical and efficient means for educators, healthcare providers, and parents to evaluate individuals who may exhibit characteristics of autism spectrum conditions. This tool is particularly noteworthy for its application in the preliminary screening process, serving to highlight those who may benefit from further, more in-depth diagnostic assessments.

Consisting of a series of questions, the ASSQ addresses a range of behaviors and competencies that are typically affected by ASD, including social interaction, communication skills, and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors. The questionnaire is structured to capture the complexity of ASD traits through observable behaviors and reported experiences, making it accessible to those without specialized training in psychology or psychiatry. This aspect of the ASSQ underscores its value in diverse settings, from educational environments to primary care, where it can be utilized as a first step in recognizing the signs of ASD.

The ASSQ's development was guided by the need for a reliable, easy-to-administer screening instrument that could be used across various contexts to identify children and adolescents at risk for ASD. By enabling early detection, the ASSQ plays a crucial role in the timely intervention for individuals with ASD, facilitating access to support and resources that can significantly improve outcomes. Moreover, the questionnaire's design allows for it to be a non-invasive first step in the diagnostic journey, providing insights without placing excessive burden on the child, family, or professionals involved.

In practice, the ASSQ has proven to be an effective instrument for highlighting potential ASD cases, guiding further diagnostic evaluations and interventions. Its broad applicability and ease of use make it an invaluable resource in the collective effort to support individuals with ASD. Through early identification and intervention, the ASSQ contributes to a more inclusive and supportive society, where individuals with ASD can receive the understanding and assistance they need to thrive.

This child stands out as different from other children of his/her age in the following ways:

  No Somewhat Yes
1. is old-fashioned or precocious
2. is regarded as an “eccentric professor” by the other children
3. lives somewhat in a world of his/her own with restricted idiosyncratic intellectual interests
4. accumulates facts on certain subjects (good rote memory) but does not really understand the meaning
5. has a literal understanding of ambiguous and metaphorical language
6. has a deviant style of communication with a formal, fussy, old-fashioned or “robot-like” language
7. invents idiosyncratic words and expressions
8. has a different voice or speech
9. expresses sounds involuntarily; clears throat, grunts, smacks, cries or screams
10. is surprisingly good at some things and surprisingly poor at others
11. uses language freely but fails to make adjustment to fit social contexts or the needs of different listeners
12. lacks empathy
13. makes naive and embarrassing remarks
14. has a deviant style of gaze
15. wishes to be sociable but fails to make relationships with peers
16. can be with other children but only on his/her terms
17. lacks best friend
18. lacks common sense
19. is poor at games: no idea of cooperating in a team, scores “own goals”
20. has clumsy, ill coordinated, ungainly, awkward movements or gestures
21. has involuntary face or body movements
22. has difficulties in completing simple daily activities because of compulsory repetition of certain actions or thoughts
23. has special routines: insists on no change
24. shows idiosyncratic attachment to objects
25. is bullied by other children
26. has markedly unusual facial expression
27. has markedly unusual posture
  1. S Ehlers, C Gillberg, L Wing. J Autism Dev Disord. ; 29(2): 129141.