Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Adaptive and Maladaptive Behaviour Assessments

Clinical and psychological assesments of our children are more commonplace now than they have ever been. This is because early intervention and recognition of detrimental conditions can be very successful in preventing further deterioration of the child's learning potential and ability to enjoy a full and happy life.

Adaptive behaviour assessments are very popular in the United States and their rise in popularity is owed largely to their usefulness and accuracy to psychologists and educators.

Adaptive Behaviour Assessments
The issue for parents and children with Adaptive Behaviour Assessments is that it sounds scary and even if we have been given a very full explanation, we are not always so sure what's happening.

Let's have a look at 2 of the terms used in this assessment and try to dissipate the mystery behind them and make themn less scary.

Adaptive Behaviours
Adaptive behaviours are simply the everyday skills you need in living today; walking, talking, getting dressed, going to school, going to work, preparing a meal, cleaning the house, etc. They are skills that a person learns in the process of 'adapting to' his or her everyday surroundings.

Adaptive behaviours are for the most part learned or developmental, so they are very much to do with how we are growing and learning things as we grow. It is about how we are developing as a child.

So, from that, it is possible to describe or rate, a person's adaptive behaviour as an age-equivalent score. An 'average' five-year-old, is such a child existed, would be expected to have an adaptive behavior score similar to that of other five-year-olds.

Maladaptive Behaviours
This is the other side of the coin. Maladaptive behaviours are more often called 'behaviour problems', because they are behaviours that interfere with the child's learning, development and their everyday activities.

Positive or good adaptive behaviour and a lack of behaviour problems promote independence at home, at school, and in the community.

Negative or Maladaptive Behaviours are much more difficult to quantify than the more positive adaptive behaviors, because they are not about learning and developing, in a positive way. Negative behaviours express themselves differently and are often dependent on opportunity, circumstances, the presence or otherwise of adults or other people.

Part of any observation and assessment will need to determine if their is a particular triger point or person that sets off the behaviour. Negative behaviours may of course simply vary from moment-to-moment, day-to-day and from setting-to-setting.

The good news. Behaviour problems do not increase or decrease steadily with age. Nevertheless a qualified person can measure the levels of behaviour, consistantly and reliably, which is useful in detecting any and every, positive change in the child's behaviour and encouraging it.

Measuring Mental Development
One of the reasons you would measure adaptive and maladaptive behaviours is for diagnosis and for planning a program that promotes positive change. The diagnosis of mental develpment, for example, requires deficits in both cognitive ability and adaptive behavior, occurring before the age of 18.

By the age of 18 the 'child' is an adult, set in their ways and can determine their own future. This is why early intervention and support is so important.

Determining Type of Support
The outcome of an Adaptive behaviour assessment will also be used to determine the type and amount of special assistance that people with disabilities may need, if any. This assistance might be in the form of home-based support services for infants and children and their families, special education and vocational training for young people, and supported work or special living arrangements such as personal care attendants, group homes, or nursing homes for adults.

Early assessments
Adaptive behaviour assessments are most often used in preschool and special education programs for determining eligibility, for program planning, and for assessing outcomes.

Remember in all this that the parent has the biggest responsibility and the most emotional role to play in supporting the child. To be able to do the best you can for your child, you must be feeling confident, positive and fully aware of what's happening. So, ask plenty of 'what, how, why?...' questions and take the most positive outcome from this and build on it.

I wish you every possible success!

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