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Asia Pac Psychiatry. 2015 Mar;7(1):105-12. doi: 10.1111/appy.12094. Epub 2013 Aug 20.

The Autism-Spectrum Quotient in university students: pattern of changes in its scores and associated factors.

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Students Health Services Center, Kochi University, Kochi, Kochi, Japan.



Support to university students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is becoming increasingly important. To determine the validity of the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) for ASD screening of university students, we conducted longitudinal measurements of the AQ in a large sample of university students and investigated the possibility of changes in the AQ and associated factors.


The AQ, University Personality Inventory (UPI), and the willingness of the students to be interviewed were determined at admission in students from four departments of Kochi University; the AQ was determined again in the second year. Changes in the AQ and associated factors were analyzed statistically.


The number of valid responses in the initial survey was 3427 (87.2%). The AQ was significantly higher in the group with high UPI scores (F = 156.08, P < 0.001). Of the 486 students interviewed at admission, 22 had suspected ASD. The sensitivity/specificity of the AQ for ASD was 81.8%/92.0%. A total of 319 (11.0%) students responded to the second-year survey, which revealed significant decrease of the AQ in the group with high AQ values at admission.


The AQ measured at admission was correlated with the UPI score, regardless of the sex or department; in the second survey, the scores decreased significantly in those with high AQ values at admission, suggesting that an unstable mental state can produce a temporary increase of the AQ scores.


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ); University Personality Inventory (UPI); mental state; university student

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