Navigating the Complexity of Autism: An In-Depth Look at AQ-10 and CAT-Q Assessments

Illy Dinette | Oct 22, 2023 | 4 min read

Guest Post by Illy Dinette, Graduate Student at Montana State University’s Counselor Education Program and Intern at Community Health Partners in Bozeman, Montana.


Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental condition that manifests in various ways across individuals. Early detection and intervention are crucial for better outcomes. This article delves into two key screening tools used for assessing autism traits: the Autism Spectrum Quotient-10 (AQ-10) and the Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire (CAT-Q).

What are AQ-10 and CAT-Q?

The AQ-10 is a brief version of the Autism Spectrum Quotient, designed to efficiently assess autism traits across five domains: social skills, attention switching, routine, imagination, and attention to detail. The CAT-Q, on the other hand, focuses on social camouflaging behaviors, particularly useful for identifying individuals who mask autistic traits.

Psychometric Properties

Both AQ-10 and CAT-Q have demonstrated strong psychometric properties. While AQ-10 is efficient but may require follow-up for a comprehensive diagnosis, the CAT-Q has shown high internal consistency and test-retest reliability, making it a robust tool for identifying camouflaging behaviors.

Scoring and Interpretation

The AQ-10 uses a four-point Likert scale, with higher scores indicating a greater likelihood of autism-related traits. The CAT-Q consists of 25 items scored on a 7-point Likert scale, focusing on three subscales: compensation, masking, and assimilation. Higher scores indicate more camouflaging behaviors.

Strengths and Limitations

The AQ-10 is brief and efficient but should not be the sole diagnostic tool. The CAT-Q is insightful but relies on self-report, which could be influenced by the individual's self-awareness and cultural context.

Treatment Plan Formulation: A Case Study

For a client like M.G., who presents with major depression and past suicide attempts, both AQ-10 and CAT-Q can offer invaluable insights. These tools can help in understanding the underlying issues and formulating a more targeted treatment plan.


Both AQ-10 and CAT-Q serve as instrumental tools for early detection and intervention in autism. Their strong psychometric properties make them reliable choices for clinicians aiming to understand the complex nature of autism traits in their clients.

We're grateful to Illy Dinette for sharing her expertise on this significant topic. Stay tuned for more articles on mental health and neurodiversity.


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