Definition & Measures of Development & Adaptive Behavior

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will define development and adaptive behavior as well as look at the more commonly used assessments that measure development and adaptive behavior.


How do you know if your students are developing at the expected rate? Adaptive behavior is the skill set required for a person to care for themselves. It includes activities such as walking, talking, eating, socializing and grocery shopping. Generally, adaptive behaviors are developmental. In other words, a three-year-old's adaptive behaviors will be similar to those of other three-year-olds. However, differently-abled students, such as those with autism spectrum disorder or development delays, may have deficits or engage in maladaptive behaviors, or behaviors that impede daily activities. Early childhood and special education programs use adaptive behavior assessments to determine eligibility, create interventions and measure growth. Let's discuss some of the measures that are used to assess development and adaptive behavior.

Scales of Independent Behavior - Revised (SIB-R)

The Scales of Independent Behavior (SIB-R) combines an adaptive behavior assessment with a scale of problem behaviors to create a combination score of adaptive and maladaptive behavior that is normed for people from 3 months to 80 years of age. The scale is administered to parents, teachers, caregivers, and/or the individual being assessed through either an interview or a written questionnaire. Short forms are available for children and adapted for the blind. This scale can be used to assess a person's independence with subscores provided for motor skills, social skills, personal living skills, and community living skills.

Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales

The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales was originally called the Vineland Social Maturity Scale. This scale must be administered by a trained professional with a Master's degree. This scale uses structured interviews to collect information on adaptive skills, motor skills, and maladaptive behavior for people ages 18 years and below. There is also a Classroom Form that may be completed by teachers for students from 3-12 years of age that does not include the maladaptive behavior section. This form is available in both English and Spanish. Subscores provide information about communication, daily living skills, socialization, and motor skills.

AAMR Adaptive Behavior Scale 2nd Edition (AAMR ABS)

The AAMR Adaptive Behavior Scale 2nd Edition was developed by the American Association on Mental Retardation to measure how people manage environmental demands. They have two forms available. One is for schools and the other is for residential and community environments. This scale poses some issues as it measures the frequency of maladaptive behavior, but not the severity of the behavior. Subscales measure personal self-sufficiency, community self-sufficiency, personal-social responsibility, and social adjustment.

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