Regardless of whether your child has been diagnosed with autism or you have a close relationship with an adult who has a developmental delay, you want to help him or her develop the skills needed to live an independent life. At Partington Behavior Analysis, we are passionate about providing clinicians, educators, and parents, with the educational resources they need to provide high-quality, effective interventions for individuals with developmental disabilities. In fact, our team is so passionate about the matter that our very own James W. Partington, Ph.D., and Scott W., Partington, M.A authored Success on the Spectrum: How to Teach Skills to Individuals with Autism, a practical guide designed to help individuals just like yourself.
In a previous post, we reviewed the importance of developing an effective teaching plan to help your learner develop the critical skills, or repertoires, they need to live life to the fullest. Before your teaching plan can commence, however, it is essential that you understand what your child or student knows, and which skills he or she has yet to learn. There are several ways that you can determine this. In today’s post, we’ll discuss different types of assessments and provide information about two parent- and teacher-friendly assessments that can help you identify your child or student’s strengths and any areas where they could benefit from additional development.
Types of Assessments
There are two general types of assessments used to gauge a child or students needs: norm-referenced assessments and criterion-based assessments.
This type of assessment takes a sampling of specific skills and compares one individual’s results to that of other individuals who are the same age. This allows a professional to determine whether or not an individual’s performance on the assessment falls into a “normal” range that is statistically determined. While these tests might be useful for determining whether or not a learner has a significant developmental delay, it doesn’t provide professionals with any feedback on where the learner stands with regard to specific skills. Because of this, norm-referenced assessments are generally not very helpful in developing specific teaching plans.
In contrast to the somewhat surface-level results of norm-referenced assessments, criterion-based assessments provide much more comprehensive information about the skills an individual possesses. Rather than comparing an individual’s performance to that of others, these assessments compare a learner’s skills against specific criteria levels for each skill. Criterion-based assessments take a deeper dive into exploring an individual’s abilities and as a result, they allow us to see which skills the learner possesses and how well those skills are developed. As you can imagine, criterion-based assessments are ideal for obtaining a detailed review of a learner’s skills in order to develop an effective, comprehensive teaching plan.
Two Comprehensive, Criterion-Based Assessments
As a parent or a teacher, it is only natural to want the best for your child or student. There are two criterion-based assessments that are parent- and teacher-friendly, and they are both internationally recognized for their value in developing interventions that are customized to suit the unique needs of learners.
The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills – Revised (ABLLS-R) is a comprehensive, criterion-based assessment that reviews four major areas of development:
- Basic language and learner skills
- Academic skills
- Self-Help skills
- Motor skills
Within these four developmental areas, there are 25 types of repertoires that are assessed and a total of 544 specific skills that are reviewed. The ABLLS-R considers skills that are acquired by typically developing children before they enter kindergarten, and the assessment is generally used with younger children to help ensure they develop the skills they need to interact with others. The intricacies of scoring the ABLLS-R is something that we review in great detail in our book Success on the Spectrum: How to Teach skills to Individuals with Autism.
The Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS) is another comprehensive criterion-referenced assessment that helps parents and educators gauge an individual’s self-help and functional living skills. It follows the same format as the ABLLS-R, but rather than assessing four developmental areas, this assessment is comprised of six protocols:
- Basic living skills
- Home skills
- Community participation skills
- School skills
- Vocational skills
- Independent living skills
More than 1,900 skills from 66 skill areas are assessed, and the assessment allows parents and teachers to choose specific skills sets to work on with the learner. Even though there are many skills that are not developed until adulthood, the AFLS is suitable for children and adults alike, allowing for progressive skill development.
Selecting Skills to Teach
After the assessment has been scored, you can begin selecting the skills to teach your child or student. For your convenience, the skills in each repertoire are listed in order of difficulty. We recommend starting by selecting the easiest skills first. Choosing skills that have been partially mastered is generally a good starting point.
Find the ABLLS-R and AFLS Online
Our goal at Partington Behavior Analysis is to make information and resources readily available to you, allowing you a convenient means of developing effective interventions for your child or student with autism. Because of this, you will find both the ABLLS-R and the AFLS for purchase on our website, as well as a wide variety of other products, services, and resources that are designed to make your child’s journey one that is fun, interactive, and successful. To learn more about our team or the services we provide, contact us today!