Tag: Autism

Adaptive Scales

This group of tests is one that causes a lot of confusion for parents. It is essential that you understand what these are and what they test. These are needed in New York State any time you look for help through one of the agencies that provide specialized services.

Adaptive Scales do not have anything to do with IQ. They are measures of what a person does in life. How well can they manage on their own?  Can they cook? Can they handle money? These are not tests that can be given in an office, but instead are questionnaires that are completed by people who interact with the patient regularly. Often, there are forms that can be used by teachers as well as caregivers. The profile that we get from these is only as good as the information we are given.

After all the information is gathered, the results are compared to people the patient’s age, so see how they compare.  There are usually four areas that are included: Communication, Socialization, Personal Care and Coping skills. The terms used can vary, but the skills are the same. The results are then compared to other test data for corroboration. For example, if a person is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, we would expect that there would be delays in socialization skills. Sometimes, we find people with strong IQs who are unable to cope with daily life and as a result, score poorly on these tests. Daily living skills and IQ are two very different categories.

There are two major measures of adaptive skills.  One is the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale and the other is Adaptive Behavior Scale. These are similar and in New York State, they are both accepted in making determinations about services. These have a wide age range (from 2 ½ through adulthood).

When Do You Need adaptive behavior scales?

  • When you are trying to get services outside of school for your child.
  • When you are trying to make a decision about whether your child is able to live independently, go to college or even go to a sleep away camp.
  • These can be helpful when there is some question about a diagnosis and information about how the child’s difficulties have impacted daily life.
  • You can use this information when you are trying to plan for your child. What skills do you need to focus on, to improve his/her move toward independence.

Help for Parents

Sometimes, parents use these scales to help them have a clearer picture of what their child is actually doing. It is easy to get used to the household routine, without even noticing how much your child is not doing. Many parents have filled out these questionnaires and been shocked by the fact that their child is significantly delayed in independence.

These results can also help parents plan for the areas where they want to focus their attention, what skills they want their child to learn.

Don’t forget that these skills have more to do with life success that even IQ!

IQ Tests

Those dreaded words, “It’s a test!” Even after being out of school for many years, the idea of a test still makes us nervous.  So, if it has been suggested that your child needs to have an IQ test done, here are some things that you need to know.

What are they?

There are all kinds of IQ tests.  Each type has some strength in terms of what they measure and some weaknesses. Often, a psychologist will ask you to outline your concerns and then will pick the test that will best answer your questions.  In a separate blog, I will review a number of these tests to give you an idea of what each one is like.

The tests themselves are made up of sub-tests.  What psychological researchers and test developers have done is to identify each kind of “cognitive” skill (meaning thinking skill).  Then they have analyzed school success and determined the most important cognitive skill that is related to good school performance. Then, they try to find tasks for those cognitive skills and include them in the battery. Parents often ask me specifically how each task relates to schoolwork, and the truth is that it is a statistical relationship. IQ tests don’t test reading or math, for example. Sometimes, parents are confused by this and don’t realize that the tests are developed to predict overall school success. For example, an IQ Test could be used to predict how well a student will do overall in high school.

On some of the IQ tests, we can look at some patterns in the sub-test scores and answer some other questions about how your child learns.  Some of them can help us identify if your child is a verbal learner or a visual learner.  On some, we can measure how efficiently your child works on specific kinds of tasks.  Some of the newer tests have included more sections on reasoning.

The sub-tests that are included are designed to give us information about how successful your child is likely to be in school.  Remember, they do not measure life success.  This is a common misconception.


What information can we get from them?

IQ tests help us get a general idea of what our expectations should be about school performance.   Other factors may be involved, but IQ test data can help us make good academic choices for our children.

Students with ADD sometimes have a specific pattern of sub-test scores that helps make that diagnosis.  IQ tests can identify some specific types of learning disabilities.

What can’t an IQ test do?

It can’t diagnose reading disabilities, dyslexia or math disabilities.  Other tests, in addition to an IQ test, are needed.  It can’t diagnose autism or autism spectrum disorders.  It can’t diagnose emotional difficulties such as depression or anxiety.

So, if your child needs an IQ test, no worries!!

  • Most of the time, children think they are playing “games.” It is far less stressful than the tests you remember.
  • The results should help you plan for your child. They provide a road map for school services, not a “life sentence” of any sort.  I advise parents to use this data only for what it was designed to do—to plan for school.


      IQ tests can’t predict life success.  IQ data must never be used to judge a child’s value.  Even though in popular use, it is implied that high IQs are better or more valuable, that just is not true.  Your child’s worth should never be linked to a number!