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 Adaptive Behavior Scales

AssessmentPsychology.com > Assessment > Psychological Tests > Types of Tests > Adaptive Behavior

 
Adaptive and Maladaptive Behavior Scales
By Brad Hill (SIB-R and ICAP author)

The Scales of Independent Behavior - Revised (SIB-R), the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, the AAMR Adaptive Behavior Scales (ABS) and the Inventory for Client and Agency Planning (ICAP) are the most widely used adaptive behavior assessments in the United States. Their popularity is owed largely to their usefulness and accuracy, derived from quality standardization and norming. The following pages describe and compare these four tests. Unless otherwise mentioned, information comes from the tests' manuals.

Adaptive behaviors are everyday living skills such as walking, talking, getting dressed, going to school, going to work, preparing a meal, cleaning the house, etc. They are skills that a person learns in the process of adapting to his/her surroundings. Since adaptive behaviors are for the most part developmental, it is possible to describe a person's adaptive behavior as an age-equivalent score. An average five-year-old, for example, would be expected to have adaptive behavior similar to that of other five-year-olds.

Behavior problems, often called maladaptive behaviors, are behaviors that interfere with everyday activities. Good adaptive behavior and a lack of behavior problems promote independence at home, at school, and in the community. Behavior problems are much more difficult to quantify than adaptive behaviors are, because they are not very developmental and because their expression varies more from day-to-day and from setting-to-setting. Behavior problems do not increase or decrease steadily with age. Nevertheless they can be measured reliably.

The purpose of measuring adaptive and maladaptive behavior is usually either for diagnosis or for program planning. The diagnosis of mental retardation, for example, requires deficits in both cognitive ability and adaptive behavior, occurring before age 18. Adaptive behavior assessment is also used to determine the type and amount of special assistance that people with disabilities may need. This assistance might be in the form of home-based support services for infants and children and their families, special education and vocational training for young people, and supported work or special living arrangements such as personal care attendants, group homes, or nursing homes for adults. Adaptive behavior assessments are often used in preschool and special education programs for determining eligibility, for program planning, and for assessing outcomes.

Standardization is the process of developing a test that reliably and validly measures a specific dimension of behavior. It involves trying out items and analyzing them; revising or discarding those that don't work, adding items where there are gaps in difficulty, and reanalysis. It also involves developing standard testing procedures and materials. The result should be a test that reliably measures the same thing the same way each time, so that scores are comparable. A standardized test should also demonstrate validity, meaning that it actually measures what it portends to measure. A test score should correlate with something in the real world.

Norming is the process of determining average scores for average people. Many tests are standardized, but few are normed because norming is an expensive process which usually means testing hundreds or thousands of carefully selected individuals -- school children throughout the U.S., for example. Norms are important because they help give test scores meaning - something to compare to. A raw score of 7, for example doesn't mean much. It means more to know that a score is at the 50th percentile for an individual of a certain age.

In norming, a large number of individuals are given a standardized test in order to determine average (normal) test scores, often averages for each age or other sub-group. This permits test scores to be compared to average, to each other on a relative basis, or to scores on other normed tests. The three major types of norm scores are age scores, percentiles, and standard scores.

Tests can be normed on more narrowly defined populations, although the usefulness of these scores varies with the definition of the norm group. "Developmentally disabled adults," for example, can range from profoundly mentally retarded to almost average. Norms on such a loosely defined group are equally loosely defined. Therefore the following comparisons differentiate norms for average non-handicapped individuals from data on supplemental standardization groups of people with handicaps.

Scales Compared

This paper compares the four most widely used tests of adaptive and maladaptive behavior. Each test relies on a respondent such as a parent, teacher, or care-provider to provide information about an individual being assessed. With some tests respondents are interviewed; with other tests respondents fill out a response booklet directly.

The Scales of Independent Behavior (SIB-R), revised in 1996, is distinguished by several features. It contains an excellent behavior problem scale in addition to its adaptive behavior assessment, and provides a unique score which reflects overall independence based on adaptive and maladaptive behavior combined. It has norms that extend beyond adolescence -- from 3 months to over 80 years. It can be administered either as a questionnaire or as a carefully structured interview, with special materials to aid the interview process. It has a short form, a short form for children, and a short form adapted for individuals who are blind.

The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, a revision of the original Vineland Social Maturity Scale, are distinguished by their heritage as well as by good norms and psychometrics. The Vineland assesses personal and social skills, with norms up to 18 years old. Two interview editions, one with 577 items, the other with 297, gather information through semi-structured interviews. Both include a Motor Skills Domain for children less than 6 years old and an optional Maladaptive Behavior Domain for children age 5 through 18.

The Vineland Manual states that the Survey and Expanded forms must be administered by a psychologist, social worker, or other professional with a graduate degree and training in interview techniques. Although the assessment booklets are quite straight-forward and well organized (adaptive items are ordered by difficulty and scored never, sometimes, or usually), the interview process is somewhat complex and time-consuming. The interviewer is instructed to never read items to a respondent and to never permit a respondent to read any of the items, but rather to ask general questions followed by further probes when necessary. Appendices (26 and 52 pages) describe scoring criteria for each item. A similarly administered maladaptive behavior section contains a list of 27 minor maladaptive behaviors such as Sucks thumb or fingers. Nine more serious behaviors, not normed for non-handicapped individuals, can be scored by frequency and noted for informational purposes as severe or moderate.

The Vineland also offers a Classroom form for children age 3 through 12. This form is a questionnaire booklet that is completed directly by a teacher. Administration of this form, which has a smaller standard error of measurement than the interview forms, requires neither interview training nor a graduate degree. The Classroom Form does not include a maladaptive behavior component.

The AAMR Adaptive Behavior Scale 2nd edition (AAMR ABS) was developed by the American Association on Mental Retardation, the oldest professional organization devoted to mental retardation in the United States. Its adaptive behavior scale is available in two forms -- one for School, the other Residential and Community Settings. Both versions assess the manner in which individuals cope with the natural and social demands of their environment.

The AAMR ABS adaptive behavior domains have two types of items, either "circle the highest level" or "yes/no." Some items are worded negatively, and can be somewhat confusing. A child who uses a napkin, for example, would be rated "no" on the item Does not use a napkin." Maladaptive behavior items are rated never, occasionally, or frequently. There is, however, no measure of relative severity. Items such as Blames own mistakes on others receives the same weight as Chokes others.

The unidimensionality of several AAMR ABS domains is questionable. A unidimensional scale is one that measures a single dimension of knowledge or behavior, important in order to define what is being measured. A mathematics test score would be difficult or impossible to interpret if the test included a smattering of social studies questions. Likewise the AAMR Physical Development Domain score, to pick one example, is difficult to interpret because in addition to items on balance, walking, running, and arm-hand use, are items on vision and hearing, all scored together.

The Inventory for Client and Agency Planning (ICAP) is a 16 page booklet that, in addition to measuring adaptive and maladaptive behavior, also gathers a compact but comprehensive set of information about an individual's demographic characteristics, diagnoses, support services needed and received, and social/leisure activities. Scoring and database software prints reports and maintains current and historical information on up to 10,000 clients as well.

The ICAP's adaptive and maladaptive behavior sections contain items selected from the SIB-R, described above, with norms for infants through adults. Like the SIB-R, the ICAP also yields a Service Score, a combined measure of adaptive and maladaptive behavior indicative of overall need for care, supervision, or training. Because the ICAP is shorter than the SIB-R, its reliability is slightly less, but still excellent when compared to other scales.

 
Materials
SIB-R Full Scale Manual: 287 pp.
Response Booklet: 26 pp.
Optional Interview Easel: 172 pp.
Planning Worksheet: 2pp. (in response booklet)
Software (Scoring & Reporting; PC/Mac)
Short Form Response Booklet: 8 pp.
Response Booklet adapted for people who are blind
Planning Worksheet: 2pp.
Shares Full Scale Manual, Interview Easel, and software.
Early
Development
Form
Response Booklet: 8 pp.
Planning Worksheet: 2pp.
Shares Full Scale Manual, Interview Easel, and software.
Vineland
ABS
Interview
Expanded
Form
Manual: 321 pp.
Item Booklet: 16 pp.
Score Summary & Profile Booklet: 12pp.
Program Planning Report: 8 pp.
Report to Parents: 4pp. (also in Spanish)
Software (Apple II/PC)
Interview
Survey
Form
Manual: 301 pp.
Record Booklet: 12 pp. (also in Spanish)
Report to Parents: 4pp. (also in Spanish)
Software (Apple II/PC)
Classroom
Edition
Manual: 175 pp.
Questionnaire Booklet: 16 pp.
Report to Parents: 4pp. (also in Spanish)
Software (PC)
AAMR
ABS
2nd Ed.
School
Edition
Manual: 118 pp.
Examination Booklet: 16pp.
Profile/Scoring Form: 4 pp.
Software (Scoring & Reporting; Apple/Mac/PC)
Residential
& Community
Edition
Manual: 76 pp.
Examination Booklet: 16pp.
Profile/Scoring Form: 4 pp.
Software (Scoring & Reporting; Apple/Mac/PC)
ICAP Manual: 155 pp.
Response Booklet: 16 pp. (also in Spanish)
Software (Scoring & Database; PC)
 
SIB-R Content
Scale
subscale
N of Items Type of Score
Full
Scale
Short
Form
Early
Dev.
Age Pct Std
Broad Independence (Total)
.
Motor Skills
Gross Motor
Fine Motor
Social & Communication Skills
Social Interaction
Language Comprehension
Language Expression
Personal Living Skills
Eating & Meal Preparation
Toileting
Dressing
Personal Self-Care
Domestic Skills
Community Living Skills
Time & Punctuality
Money & Value
Work Skills
Home/Community Orientation
259
.
38
19
19
56
18
18
20
88
19
17
18
16
18
77
19
20
20
18
40
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

40

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
 

X

.
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
 
X
.
X
.
.
X
.
.
.
X
.
.
.
.
.
X
.
.
.
.

X

.
X
.
.
X
.
.
.
X
.
.
.
.
.
X
.
.
.
.
 
Maladaptive Behavior - General
.
Internalized
Hurts Self
Repetitive Habits
Withdrawn or Inattentive
Asocial
Socially Offensive
Uncooperative
Externalized
Hurts Others
Destructive to property
Disruptive
 
24
.
9
3
3
3
6
3
3
9
3
3
3
 
24
.
9
3
3
3
6
3
3
9
3
3
3
 
24
.
9
3
3
3
6
3
3
9
3
3
3
 
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
 
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
 
X
.
X
.
.
.
X
.
.
X
.
.
.
 
Note. The SIB-R also provides a Support Score, an overall score that combines adaptive and maladaptive behavior.
 
Vineland Content
Scale
subscale
N of Items Type of Score
Expand Surv Class Age Pct Std
Adaptive Behavior Composite
.
Communication
Receptive
Expressive
Written
Daily Living Skills
Personal
Domestic
Community
Socialization
Interpersonal Relationships
Play & Leisure Time
Coping Skills
Motor Skills (dev. age < 6)
Gross
Fine
541
.
133
23
76
34
201
90
45
66
134
50
48
36
73
42
31
261
.
67
13
31
23
92
39
21
32
66
28
20
18
36
20
16

244

.
63
10
29
24
99
36
21
42
53
17
18
18
29
16
13
 

X

.
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
 

X

.
X
.
.
.
X
.
.
.
X
.
.
.
X
.
.
 

X

.
X
.
.
.
X
.
.
.
X
.
.
.
X
.
.
 
Maladaptive Behavior
.
Part 1 (All children)
Part 2 (Children with handicaps)
 
36
.
27
9
 
36
.
27
9
 
.
.
.
.
 
.
.
.
.
 
.
.
.
.
 
.
.
.
.
 
Note. Maladaptive behavior scale yields raw scores with interpretative levels.
 
AAMR ABS Content
Factor/Domain
N of Items Type of Score
Resid/
Cmnty
School Age Pct Std
Part I (Personal independence)
.
Personal Self-Sufficiency
Independent Functioning
Physical Development
Community Self-Sufficiency
Independent Functioning
Economic Activity
Language Development
Numbers & Time
Domestic Activity
Prevocational/Vocational Activity
Personal-Social Responsibility
Prevocational/Vocational Activity
Self-Direction
Responsibility
Socialization
.
Part II (Personality/behavior)
.
Social Adjustment
Social Behavior
Conformity
Trustworthiness
Personal-Social Responsibility
Stereotyped & Hyperactive Behavior
Sexual Behavior
Self-Abusive Behavior
(Other)
Social Engagement
Disturbing Interpersonal Behavior
 
356
.
103
76
27
177
57
28
47
15
27
3
76
9
26
12
29
.
256
.
108
45
33
30
90
40
24
26
.
23
35
 
329
.
103
76
27
150
57
28
47
15
.
3
76
9
26
12
29
.
232
.
108
45
33
30
66
40
.
26
.
23
35
 
.
.
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
 
.
.
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
.
.
.
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
.
X
X
 
.
.
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
.
.
.
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
.
X
X
 
Note. Item types are scored yes/no or select which statement best applies. For comparability with other scales, each statement is counted as an item.
 
ICAP Content
Item
Scale/subscale
N of Items Type of Score
Age Pct Std
Descriptive Characteristics
age/height/weight/legal status
Primary & Additional Diagnoses
Special Needs
vision/hearing/mobility
healthcare/medication
Residential Supports
now & in the future
School/Vocational Supports
now & in the future
Other Support Services
now & in the future
Social/Leisure Activities
.
Adaptive Behavior
Motor Skills
Social & Communication Skills
Personal Living Skills
Community Living Skills
.
Maladaptive Behavior
Self-injury/Stereotyped/Withdrawn
Offensive/Uncooperative
Disruptive/Destructive/Hurts others
 
10
.
14
10
.
.
2
.
2
.
26
.
16
.
77
18
19
21
19
.
24
9
6
9
 
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
X
X
X
X
X
.
.
.
.
.
 
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
X
X
X
X
X
.
.
.
.
.
 
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
X
X
X
X
X
.
X
X
X
X
 
Note. The ICAP also provides a Service Score, an overall score that combines adaptive and maladaptive behavior.
 
Standardization and Norming
Adaptive Behavior Full Scales (a)
  SIB-R Vineland
Standard
AAMR
School
ICAP
Norm group age in yrs. 0 - 90 0 - 18 (b) 3 - 18 0 - 50
Norm group size 2,182 3,000 1,254 1,764
Supplemental standardization group
(Children & adults with handicaps)
1,681 2,844 2,074 (c) 1,681
Measurement technique Rasch Rasch Classic Rasch
N of items 259 261 329 77
Standard score (SD=15) error @ 8 yrs. ±2 ±4 (d) ±3 ±6
Split-half/alpha reliability @ 8-9 yrs. .98 .93 .91 .84
Test-retest reliability @ 6-13 yrs.
(same interviewer 2-4 weeks apart)
.98 .85 .66 (e) .94
Inter-rater reliability @ 6-18 yrs.
(two interviewers)
.95 .74 .74 (e) .94 (f)
Subscale intercorrelations yes yes yes yes
Construct validity - correlation with age 0-18 .91 - .41 .91
Criterion validity - correlation with IQ (g) .20 -.78 .28 -.52 .41 -.72 .29 -.91
Criterion validity - correlation with other AB scales .66 -.81 .55 -.58 .53 -.61 .64 -.75
Comparison scores for age matched groups of non-handicapped students and those with hearing, learning, and emotional disabilities yes - - yes
Discriminant analysis for school placement level and level of mental retardation yes - - yes
Note. These statistics, selected from the tests' manuals, are for non-handicapped groups of comparable age, unless otherwise indicated. Consult the tests' manuals for additional reliability and validity studies with other ages and other groups.

(a) The AAMR does not have a total score; data are averages for the three factors The Vineland Motor Skills domain ends at age 6; data for older children are averages for 3 domains. (b) Classroom edition: age 3-12. (c) Residential & Community form: 4,103. (d) Expanded form ± 3; Classroom form ± 2. (e) Emotionally disturbed grade 9-11; no study for non-handicapped children. (f) Mentally retarded adults; no study for non-handicapped children. (g) Correlations range from high for heterogeneous groups of handicapped children to low for non-handicapped adults.

 
Standardization and Norming
Problem Behavior Scales
  SIB-R &
ICAP (a)
Vineland AAMR
School (b)
Part 1 Part 2
Norm group age in yrs. 0 - 50 5 - 18 - 3 - 18
Norm group size 778 2,000 0 1,254
Supplemental standardization group
(Children & adults with handicaps)
1,681 2,844 2,844 2,074
Development technique Fac. anal. - - Fac. anal.
N of items 16 27 9 232
Std. error of measure / SD @ 6-11 yrs. ±2.5 / 10 - - ±3.8 / 15
Split-half/alpha reliability @ 8-9 yrs. (c) .87 - .94
Test-retest reliability @ 6-13 yrs.
(same interviewer 2-4 weeks apart)
.86 .88 - .83 (d)
Inter-rater reliability @ 6-18 yrs.
(two interviewers)
.83 .74 - .57 (d)
Maladaptive subscale intercorrelations yes - - yes
Criterion validity - correlation with other maladaptive scales .09 to .58 - - -
Comparison scores for age matched groups of non-handicapped students and those with hearing, learning, and emotional disabilities yes - - -
Discriminant analysis for school placement level and level of mental retardation yes - - -
Note. These statistics, selected from the tests' manuals, are for non-handicapped groups of comparable age, unless otherwise indicated. Consult the tests' manuals for additional reliability and validity studies with other ages and other groups. None of the four tests found consistent relationships between maladaptive behavior and intelligence. Each found a slight negative relationship between maladaptive behavior and age, and each factors age into their scoring systems.

(a) The SIB-R and the ICAP have the same problem behavior scale.
(b) The AAMR does not have a total score; data are averages for the two factors.
(c) SIB-R/ICAP maladaptive behavior categories are mutually exclusive.
(d) Emotionally disturbed grade 9-11; no study for non-handicapped children.

 

SIB-R/Vineland/AAMR/ICAP homepage
To comment or add to this review, please e-mail Brad Hill (bhill@isd.net)
Modified: 1-11-01

 


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