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 respon- sibility 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 summa- tion 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 adminis- tered 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 behav- ior 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 Develop- ment 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 re- garded the mentally handicapped