• Cory Morrison

Autism: Social and communication quiz

Updated: Jul 19

I decided to create my own quiz to review my social symptoms over the years. Anyone on the spectrum or not can also answer these questions.

Early years

1. What were your connections like then? I didn't have a strong relationship with anyone besides my parents despite memorizing people's names and faces rather easily.

2. How old were when you started to speak? For single words, I was around two or three. For communicative phrases, I was four.

3. What did you do when someone called your name? I didn't make eye contact with a person and would do a hand flap.

4. Were you good at sharing toys? I needed constant prompting to share toys, or else play with another child would be extremely one-sided. I didn't understand the importance of good play interaction.

5. Did you engage in self-stimulatory behaviours? I did on a too-frequent basis until my parents came up with schedules involving ABA, preschool and free time with supervision. There was seldom an awake moment where somebody didn't supervise me back then.

I play with Sesame Street and The Lion King toys as a toddler (Photo credit: Nancy Fincher-Morrison).

Elementary social skills

6. Did you prefer to be alone? It depended heavily on the situation. If I were playing a favourite game and had little time left to play it, I would grow hesitant to share it with others. However, I was always happy to do things with classmates outside of school and during recess when I wasn't as socially isolated or into my activity.

7. Would you become attached to people too easily? In many cases, yes. If I couldn't see or play with particular people at certain times, it would cause distress. Similarly, if a friend were hanging out with someone who didn't like me that much, I would temporarily believe that friend hated me.

8. If a person wanted to play or talk and you were in a bad mood, what would you do? I would sometimes overreact. I couldn't hide my emotions whenever I was stressed out. Today, I understand that I can't go to work with a bad attitude when I'm in a bad mood. That didn't register with me for much of elementary school.

9. Did you understand joking and sarcasm? Unless I was in a naturally playful situation such as playing games such as tag or play fighting, usually not. I would most often misinterpret cues if it were from a person I wasn't comfortable with or if somebody with authority over me would joke around with me. If an adult said "Don't do that!" playfully, I would think they were serious.

10. Did general social skills come naturally to you? I didn't always understand that if a friend was hurt or if I said something that they didn't like, I needed to show my sympathy. I would also struggle to find words with interactions involving questions. If a friend or adult spent some time away from me because of a vacation, for example, adults would suggest that I ask them questions about their break. This stuff wouldn't come naturally to me.

Later social skills

11. Were you socially isolated? For a good chunk of elementary school, I made more effort to interact with peers. In general, classmates accepted me. However, when I got older and lost things in common with peers, I became more socially isolated. High school was probably the loneliest part of my life. I barely, if ever recall doing stuff with people outside of school.

12. Did you feel comfortable around peers? It depended on how easy-going their personality was. I could usually pick up on which peers were judgmental and which ones weren't.

13. How did you respond to bullying? Unfortunately, not as well as I would have liked. I would often scream or swear at them, particularly if outside of school. Even when I tried ignoring it, it didn't always work. With some people, it was only when I snitched on them and they had to face the consequences, that they finally left me alone.

14. Would you do socially unacceptable things without realizing them? I would sometimes act unfriendly or cold with people without knowing how they might interpret my behaviour. These situations would fly over my head too easily, but the involved people were likely confused by my odd behaviour.

15. Are you more social today? I am more social and not as socially isolated as I was in high school. A lot of it is because people are often more understanding in the real world than in high school. I still struggle socially, but it stems from social anxiety and misunderstanding some non-verbal cues.

Communication skills

16. Do you struggle with eye contact? I always have to some extent, but the issue was more severe as a child than it is now. When I was younger, I didn't even always face the person I was talking or listening to, leaving them uncomfortable. I find it difficult to look at a person's eyes for more than two seconds, but I at least try to look at the person.

I deliver a speech after winning an online publishing award in November 2018 (Photo credit: John Morrison).

17. How well do you understand facial expressions? I think I've gotten better at understanding people's facial expressions. In the past, when I've taken facial expression quizzes online, I've gotten good scores on them. However, in real-time situations interacting with people, I don't always process what a person may feel unless if it's obvious to me that they're mad, sad, playful or happy.

18. Are facial expressions easy for you to use? I don't have a wide range of facial expressions like the average person does. Despite this impairment, I try to make sure I look like I'm in a good or not-so-great mood. There were occasions in elementary school where peers would ask me what is wrong when I wasn't even sad, only because my facial expression didn't show happiness.

19. Is interrupting easy for you to avoid? If there's an autism symptom I still feel guilty about to this day, it is that I can't always pick up on cues as to when to start talking. In work and school situations, I've practiced a lot with this, though. Admittedly, I've been successful in some interactions more than others. If I interact with an outgoing person who talks a lot, it is harder for me not to interrupt since they have a lot to share. Sometimes, I might start talking only for them to continue their speech. Quieter people often pause more, ensuring that I have a second to make eye contact to show that I want to share something.

20. Do you use hand gestures when you speak? I still struggle a lot with this type of non-verbal communication. Unless I describe what is happening with one or two objects, it is hard for me to understand how to use my hands when talking about certain topics.

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