Response to Rorschach test in autism spectrum disorders in adulthood: a pilot study

R. Keller 1, S. Bari 1, B. Fratianni 2, A. Piedimonte 1, F. Freilone 2

1 Autism Adult Center, Local Health Unit ASL Città di Torino, Turin, Italy; 2 Psychology Department, University of Turin


Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders (APA – DSM5) presenting an higher functioning level are often hardly recognized during childhood and it is not infrequent for the first diagnosis to be made during adolescence/adulthood. Thus, it is highly probable for the first psychological and psychiatric evaluation of adolescents and adults affected by level 1 ASD (in particular what was defined in the DSM IV TR as Asperger syndrome) to happen in non-specialized centers due to comorbidities (e.g. anxiety, depression) and not due to the actual disorder. The focus of this pilot study was to use the Rorschach test to explore the response modality and the eventual variation in the test administration in ASD. This study highlights the potential efficacy of the Rorschach inkblot test in ASD. 


Forty patients (age = 30 ± standard deviation). All patients responded to DSM-5 criteria used to define the high functioning Level 1 ASD. Patients present spontaneously at the clinic (Autism Adult Center – Local Health Unit ASL To2) or conducted by their families to receive a clinical psychological-psychiatric evaluation. The method used to score the test followed the method of the French School. 


From a relationship point of view, all patients approached the test with a collaborative attitude and they often manifested an open interest for the diagnostic material. The Rorschach administration was conducted without any irregularity.45% of the patients gave more than 20 answers, 65% of the patients gave a number of Detail answers inferior to the normative range, 65% of the test presented a number of human content in the normative range. In 52% of the patients, the index intimate resonance (T.R.I.) index was extratensive. 


Rorschach test is useful with ASD patients because it doesn’t present classic problems that they usually encounter in other test, like: the tendency to interpret verbal items or written questions in a literal way; the difficulty in answering questions that are not directly related to them; the difficulty of focusing their attention on the test; the length of the test. The Rorschach test could be one of the most useful diagnostic tools to explore personality traits, eventual psychopathologic problems and the psychological functioning of the ASD patients.

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