vidual education or rehabilitative planning, a classroom edition to be used by teachers, and a preschool form. Particularly for children with autistic spectrum disorders, the expanded or preschool form may be most helpful since it can be used to derive goals that can be directly translated in an individualized education plan (IEP) (Volkmar et al., 1993). In addition, several research studies have delineated Vineland profiles that are relatively specific to autism (Loveland and Kelley, 1991; Volkmar et al., 1987). This unique pattern consists of relative strengths in the areas of daily living and motor skills and significant deficits in the areas of socialization and, to a lesser extent, communication. Supplementary Vineland norms for autistic individuals are also now available (Carter et al., 1998).
Other instruments with subtests for assessing adaptive behaviors of very young children include the Brigance Inventory of Early Development (Brigance, 1978), the Early Learning Accomplishment Profiles (ELAP) (Glover et al., 1988), the Scales of Independent Behavior-Revised (Bruininks et al., 1996), the AAMD Adaptive Behavior Scales (Lambert et al., 1993) and the Learning Accomplishments Profile (LAP) (Sanford and Zelman, 1981). The Developmental Play Assessment Instrument (DAP) (Lifter et al., 1993) provides an evaluation of the quality of a child’s toy play skills in relation to those of typically developing children, which can help to target the play level and actions that a child with autism needs to learn.
A primary consideration in selection of adaptive living goals should be the skills needed to promote age-appropriate independence in community living, so that a child can have access to the larger social community. For example, children who are not toilet trained are not likely to have access to classrooms with normally developing peers, and parents of children who present safety risks will be less likely to take them on community outings. Classrooms and home programs may begin with an early focus on independent daily living skills early in a child’s intervention program, because progress in these areas is more easily achieved than in the more challenging domains that are diagnostic descriptors of autism (i.e., social, communication, and behavior). Thus, parents and teachers are pleased when their child makes tangible early progress, and they may be motivated to collaborate on more challenging tasks.
There are a number of published manuals that provide practical guidance on the design of instructional programs, along with detailed task analyses of various daily living and self-help skills. For example, Steps to Independence (Baker and Brightman, 1997) provides easy-to-follow guidelines for teaching skills such as shoe tying or hand washing. Behavioral intervention techniques can readily be used to teach adaptive skills (e.g., Ando, 1977; Azrin and Foxx, 1974; McGee et al., 1994), and self-care and other skills can be systematically taught (McClannahan et al., 1990), although it is critical that generalization of teaching be accomplished. Other