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AAMD Adaptive Behavior Scale

Purpose: Designed to measure children’s personal independence and social skills.

Population: Mentally retarded and emotionally maladjusted ages 3- adult, grades 2-6.

Score: Domain , Factor, and Comparison Scores.

Time: (30-120) minutes.

Authors: Kazuo Nihira, Ray Foster, Max Shellhaas, and Henry Leland.

Publishers: Publishers Test Service.

Description: The AAMD Adaptive Behavior Scale is designed to measure children’s personal
independence and social skills. Adaptive behavior is a critical component in the diagnostic
classification of the mentally retarded and is defined as "the effectiveness or degree with which
the individual meets the standards of personal independence and social responsibility expected
for his or her age and cultural group."

Scoring: Three main types of scores are derived from the item response scores (Domain, Factor,
and Comparison scores.) The Domain score is simply the summation of all items within a given
domain, the Factor score is the summation of the Domain scores with a given factor, and the
Comparison score is a weighted summation of three Factor scores. Thus, there is a progression in
score derivation that results in a score that compares a child to same-aged peers in either
Regular, EMR, or TMR reference groups.

Reliability: The only form of reliability data documented in the technical manual is the internal
consistency of each factor via the coefficient alpha technique. With the exception of the Personal
Adjustment Factor, the coefficient alphas are high (range .71 to .97). The omission of test-retest
and interrater reliabilities is a major concern for a test that can be administered to several parties
(i.e., teachers, parents, guardians) and, in the case of a handicapped child, possibly several times
over the course of a few years.

Validity: Two types of validity data are presented in the manual: (a) data on the relationship
between adaptive behavior ratings and intelligence test performance and (b) data on the
predictive power of the ABS for accurately classifying normal and mentally retarded children.
With respect to intelligence, most of the 21 ABS domains have low to moderate correlations with
IQ test performances. Noticeable exceptions were observed between IQ and the Language
Development domain (r ranging from .39 to .63 depending on age group) and IQ and the
Numbers and Time domain (r ranging form .33 to .62).

Norms: The ABS was standardized on a sample of 6,523 individuals in California and Florida
ranging in ages from 3 through 17 years. Individuals sampled were classified into one of three
groups: Regular, EMR, or TMR. Individuals from various racial/ethnic groups and locales were
included. Although the sample represents only two states, the size and diversity of the sample are
very good compared to other adaptive behavior scales.

Suggested Uses: Recommended as part of a classification/diagnostic battery in screening and


placement decisions regarded the mentally handicapped.