Measuring Social Skills and Adaptive Functioning - Using the VABS
The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (VABS), which was developed by Sparrow, Balla, and Cicchetti, is one of the most popular assessment tests used to diagnose developmental disorders in infants and children, including autism, mental retardation, and various learning disorders. The special education team may use the results of the VABS in creating special needs programs and in monitoring the progress of the child. The scores in the sub-domains of the tests can also pinpoint the specific adaptive functioning problems of the child so that the IEP team can put together a plan towards improving the child's social skills. See more about how this test is used to screen autism.
VABS - Three Forms
The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale has three forms, the Survey-Interview Form, the Expanded-Interview Form, and the Classroom Edition. All three measure four domains in adaptive functioning, 1) Communication, 2) Daily Living, 3) Socialization, and 4) Motor Skills. In certain cases, when deemed appropriate by the psychologist, a fifth domain, called Maladaptive Behavior, is included in the test. Read more details about these domains.
VABS - Administration Method
The administration method of VABS involves a questionnaire that a parent, caregiver, or a knowledgeable adult will answer. In the Classroom Edition of the VABS, the student's teacher is the one tasked to answer the questions. The special needs education teacher will answer questions about the child's communication behavior, interaction with others during play and leisure time, sensitivity, sense of responsibility, ability to dress and practice hygiene, and other behaviors and skills that can be observed in the classroom. When there is a need to include the fifth domain, Maladaptive Behavior, the teacher will encounter a format that is different from other domains. There are no general questions to answer. Instead, the teacher will have to describe, with as much detail as possible, the observed maladaptive or disruptive behaviors.
VABS - Teacher Rating Form
There is an accompanying Teacher Rating Form that is used to interpret the scores. Similar to other forms, the Classroom Edition will have an Adaptive Behavior Composite score that will estimate the child's age equivalency. The coverage of the VABS is comprehensive, which makes scoring difficult. A low composite score does not always mean that the child has problems in all domains. There might be a specific domain in which the score is extremely low and another domain in which the score is relatively high. This is why the scoring software is highly recommended.