What Is Adaptive Behavior?
Adaptive behavior includes the skills necessary to properly navigate one’s environments, including those needed to independently and effectively execute self-care and social interaction. In other words, adaptive behavior is your daily practical competence. Individuals who can appropriately carry out adaptive behaviors have little trouble taking care of themselves or overcoming mental and physical tasks and have healthy relationships with others.
As we age, adaptive behavior expands and becomes more complex. The more robust your adaptive behavior is as you grow, the better you can meet the needs and demands of different environments and situations. When assessing this type of behavior, the primary focus is on a person’s typical behavior in their environment, not test performance.
What Is the Main Purpose of Adaptive Behavior Assessments?
When a person has adaptive behavior deficits, they may struggle with significant life activities such as:
- Relationships with peers
- Perceptions of personal needs
- Learning unfamiliar skills
- Practical functioning at home or in the community
The purpose of a comprehensive assessment of adaptive skills is to identify a person’s strengths and deficits to create effective interventions and treatment programs. With proper execution, these assessments can overall improve a person’s ability to function in life.
Where Have Adaptive Behavior Assessments Been Most Useful?
According to the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, “intellectual disability is characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills.” Because of this, an adaptive behavior assessment has been one of the primary tools used to diagnose and plan interventions for children with autism.
Beyond autism, adaptive behavior should be routinely assessed for both children and adults who have conditions that can interfere with activities of daily living. These conditions include attention deficit disorders, dementia, emotional instability, and learning disabilities, among many others. Once adaptive behavior deficits are identified, clinicians can effectively intervene to improve their abilities and performance of everyday activities.
How Can You Properly Apply Adaptive Behavior Assessments?
Creating effective behavioral treatment plans begins with robust and reliable assessments. Rating scales must then be properly analyzed to create effective interventions. Once intervention has begun, it is important to monitor the individual’s progress to ensure the intervention is working. While this can be challenging, it does not have to be. A variety of behavior assessment tools are available from WPS to allow for the initial creation and ongoing evaluation of intervention plans.