Adaptive Behavior and Behavior Scales: Truly Defining a Child

14 Jun

Adaptive behavior means that the behavior or “anything that an organism does involving action and response to stimulation” (Merriam-Webster, 2006) is adaptive or “modification of an organism or its parts that makes it more fit for existence under the conditions of its environment” (Merriam-Webster, 2006).

adaptive behavior

In other words…Adaptive behavior is the ability to adjust to one’s environment in order to prosper. Adaptive behaviors include: communication, self-help skills, socialization, and motor skills. Communication can be broke down into receptive, expressive, and written. It is something that may be quantified in order to place a student in education, define services needed, or determine the future of a child. With so much riding on how a child’s adaptive behavior is perceived, how is it truly determined. There are behavior scales that are normally rated by many people in the child’s life. The more the better it can give a more well rounded picture of the individual, but still problems arise as all people might not have a shared view.

Problems with Defining Adaptive Behavior:

  • It is hard to define adaptive behavior using words outside of adaptive and behavior
  • It is hard to specifically test adaptive behavior as it is a very broad picture that occurs in a variety of environments with a variety of different ingredients.
  • Tests Directly reflect the biases of the individuals filing them out

How to Correctly Asses Adaptive Behavior

  • Do lots of behavior scales from multiple individuals
  • If any scale is way off talk about it as a team and if possible get another person in a similar relationship with the child to fill one out. Then check for discrepancies and consistencies
  • Remember we all act differently in different environments. There is very likely going to be some discrepancies.
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