Did you manage to get yourself out of bed at an appropriate time, make breakfast for yourself, take a shower and clean your teeth? Were you able to plan your day, pay your bills and engage with your local community, friends and loved ones? Were you able to manage health conditions and take the required medication? If so, you probably have a suitable level of adaptive behaviour.
Adaptive behaviour is a collection of conceptual, social and practical skills that have been learned in order to function relatively independently in everyday life. Conceptual skills include using and understanding language, reading and writing, maths concepts and self-direction. Social skill includes skills in establishing friendship, interacting with others, social reasoning and comprehension, self-esteem, and avoiding being victimized. While practical skills include activities of daily living such as food preparation, self-care such as bathing and dressing, occupational skills, monetary transactions, scheduling, maintaining routines, and the use of technology.
History of Adaptive Behaviour & Measures of Adaptive Behaviour
Adaptive behavioural measures as we know them today, were first used in the early 1920s, however, the historical roots of these measures can be traced back to Ancient Greece. While the necessary definitions of adaptive behaviour and areas of analysis have been evolving over the years, the most recent analysis of adaptive behaviour examines 10 skills across three behavioural domains; example areas of analysis include, communication, health and safety, self-care, and functional academics. The use of adaptive behavioural assessments are an important method in assessing development across all ages and cultural groups. When conducting an assessment, emphasis is placed on the developmental and socio-cultural contexts as expectations may differ depending on age and across contexts. The most widely used assessments reflect an individuals’ acquisition, expansion, and the growth of skills across the lifespan.
Why use an adaptive behavioural assessment?
Adaptive behavioural measures are designed to provide information to assist professionals in making diagnoses, in identifying the strengths and weaknesses, and in monitoring and developing intervention programs. The behavioural measures can be used by professionals to help better understand an individual –from infancy through to the older adulthood. Measures can be administered any number of times across various contexts to provide a clearer picture of how an individual is functioning and where assistance may be required. A measure can be conducted in the school environment, work, home, clinical settings, or in vocational training programs. Who can benefit from adaptive behavioural measures?
Adaptive behavioural measures can be used with a range of people, for instance:
- Intellectual disability
- Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
- Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder
- Developmental delays
- Depressive and mood disorders
- Emotional and behavioural disorders
- Language disorders
- Learning disabilities
- Substance abuse
How is adaptive behaviour assessed?
Adaptive behaviour can be measured informally through an interview and by obtaining a thorough history, observation of someone in a simulated (pretend) setting, checklist or through the use of formal questionnaires and interviews. In any case, a formal measure of adaptive behaviour provides a standardised measure of capability and consistency in measure for comparison over time. Formalised measures may also be required for government funding and support services. To gain the most accurate picture of someone’s functioning the measures are usually completed by multiple people- such as the individual, a parent, teacher or someone who knows the person well.
This is particular important for children whose behaviour can vary across contexts. As such, children may require different interventions within either the home or school environment. If required, informal measures could be used to provide additional information about adaptive behaviour, examples include,
- Daily diary or checklist
- Teacher and parent communication
- Observations (real or simulated)
Two of the most widely used measures of adaptive behaviour include the Adaptive Behavioural Assessment System (ABAS) and Vinelands Adaptive Behaviour Scales.
If you or someone you know may benefit from finding out more about adaptive behaviour measures, then Vision and M1 Psychology has clinicians who are able to provide assistance.
Authors: Vision Psychology and Dr Megan Broughton
- American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 2016
- Pearson Clinical Assessments: https://www.pearsonclinical.com.au/