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Assessment Critique: Adaptive Behavior Assessment System (ABAS-2)

The Adaptive Behavior Assessment System (ABAS-2) is a behavior rating scale that gives a complete assessment of adaptive skills across the lifespan (Harrison & Oakland, 2000). Adaptive skills refer to behavior that enables a person to get along in his or her environment with greatest success and least conflict with others; this can also be referred to as “life skills” (South County Child and Family Consultants, 2018). Measuring adaptive behaviors has been important to school psychologists and a variety of mental health professionals who are interested in assessment, diagnosis, and client treatment for many years (Oakland & Daley, 2013). The ABAS-2 is typically completed by a parent, caregiver, and/or teacher (Western Psychological Services, 2018). For the presentation previously given in class, the ABAS-2 was highlighted as being an assessment that can be helpful towards the diagnosis of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. However, this assessment can also evaluate individuals with learning difficulties, motor disorders, speech and language disorders, hearing disorders, and neuropsychological disorders (Harrison & Oakland, 2000). The ABAS-2 was published by Harcourt Assessment, Inc. in San Antonio, Texas and was developed by Patti Harrison, PhD and Thomas Oakland, PhD (Harrison & Oakland, 2000). The second addition was published in 2000 (Harrison & Oakland, 2000).

The appropriate ages for this assessment are between the range of birth-89 years old (Harrison & Oakland, 2000). Administration time averages around 15-20 minutes for each component and is translated into 11 languages (Harrison & Oakland, 2000). This assessment calls for the administrator to obtain Level C qualifications (Harrison & Oakland, 2000). Obtaining C level qualifications means that the administrator must have previously received a master’s degree in psychology, school counseling, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, social work, education, special education, or a related field (Western Psychological Services). This level of qualification also requires that those who administer the assessment are trained specifically in how to give instructions on the assessment and how to interpret the results (Western Psychological Services, 2018). The ABAS-2 measures adaptive, or daily living, skills over the lifespan and can help complete numerous tasks such as: assess adaptive skills, classify disabilities and disorders, show strengths and weaknesses, monitor progress over time, develop treatment plans and training goals, determine eligibility for services, and evaluate capability to live or work independently (Western Psychological Services, 2018). For those in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling track, some relevant places that this assessment can be used in are private practices, counseling centers, hospitals, and schools.

Since anyone between the age of 0-89 is eligible to take this assessment, there are five different forms that are relevant to each age group (Harrison & Oakland). These forms and their correlating age groups are administered as the Parent/Primary Caregiver Form (ages 0-5), Teacher/Daycare Provider Form (ages 2-5), Parent Form (ages 5-11), Teacher Form (ages 5-21), and Adult Form (ages 16-89) (Western Psychological Services, 2018). The Adult Form is the only self-rating option that is available for the ABAS-2; all other forms are either completed by a teacher, caregiver, or parent (Harrison & Oakland, 2000). Each of these forms can be used together to provide an overall composite score for the client (called a General Adaptive Composite), but the client also has the option to complete one of the forms by itself (Harrison & Oakland, 2000). This assessment generates norm-referenced standard scores for 10 skill areas within 3 overall domains (Western Psychological Services, 2018). The domains in this assessment cover conceptual, social, and practical areas of the client’s life (Harrison & Oakland, 2000). The 10 skill areas in the ABAS-2 include more specific adaptive skill areas from each of these domains. These skills areas cover communication, community use, functional academics, home/school living, leisure, health and safety, self-care, self-direction, social, and motor/work (Harrison & Oakland, 2000). On a 4-point response scale, raters indicate the frequency in which the individual performs each activity (Harrison & Oakland, 2000). Each of these forms can be scored on average in 5-10 minutes (Harrison & Oakland, 2000). There is also the option for the ABAS-2 forms to be scored on a computer, which provides specific steps for monitoring progress and developing programs moving forward (Western Psychological Services, 2018). One pack of 25 forms for the ABAS-2 is approximately $92 (Western Psychological Services, 2018).

There are certain types of validity and reliability that are present in the ABAS-2. Some apparent forms of validity in this assessment are construct, convergent, and concurrent validity (Floyd et. al, 2015). Concurrent validity is the degree to which a test is measuring what it says it will measure (Johnson, 2015). For example, if the ABAS-2 claims to measure adaptive behaviors, then it will be measuring those behaviors. Convergent validity is the degree to which two measures that should be related are related (Johnson, 2015). For the ABAS-2, this type of validity is present between the different forms that can be completed for each participant. For instance, the Teacher Form and the Parent Form will be related like they should be. Lastly, concurrent validity is the extent to which results of test correspond with previously established measurements of the same construct (Johnson, 2015). This means that the ABAS-2 corresponds well with other assessments that also measure adaptive behaviors. The coefficient for concurrent validity in the ABAS-2 is around 0.8 (Rust & Wallace, 2004). For reliability in the ABAS, there is evidence of internal consistency, test-retest, interrater, and cross-form consistency reliability (Floyd et. al, 2015). The coefficient for each of these is around 0.8 as well (Rust & Wallace, 2004). A form of reliability that is especially excellent in the ABAS-2 is internal consistency reliability for domain scores (Floyd et. al, 2015). This coefficient is between 0.8 and 0.9 (Rust & Wallace, 2004).

As for my overall critique, I believe that I would use and/or recommend the ABAS-2 in the future if needed in my practice. The assessment fulfills its purpose and has high levels of validity and reliability. The ABAS-2 also targets a wide range of people and is relevant for diverse populations. No two clients are the same, so it is helpful that this assessment can be applicable for anyone between the ages of 0-89, those who differ in gender, and a variety of races. The ABAS-2 is translated into 11 languages, which makes it more accessible to those who do not speak English. Something that I especially like about this particular assessment is that the results have the option of providing the client with specific steps for monitoring progress and developing programs for moving forward. This would be helpful when creating treatment plans for clients and when choosing relatable interventions. I also appreciate the fact that the ABAS-2 has multiple rating forms and measures 10 adaptive skill areas. This is beneficial to the test-taker because it does not approach the individual from one angle. This assessment is multi-dimensional and looks at more than one side of the problem that the client might have with adaptive behaviors. One issue with this assessment is that there is the potential for self-report bias. The main problem that I have with this test is that it is slightly expensive, but I think that this is a problem for the majority of assessments that we have studied this semester.

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