nature and extent of the limitations those individuals with mild mental retardation experience in adapting their behavior to meet the social demands and expectations of the school, workplace, and recreational and residential settings.
There are a small number of well-normed adaptive behavior scales that are especially suitable for use in initial determinations for children and youth with possible mental retardation. There is a much larger number of scales that do not have extensive norms but may nonetheless be suitable as a means of gathering and summarizing information that can be assessed on a clinical basis. In addition to summarizing adaptive behavior status for the purposes of diagnosis and establishing SSI and DI eligibility, some adaptive behavior scales, such as the AAMR Adaptive Behavior Scales (both school and residential or community versions) and the Scales of Independent Behavior permit the recording of maladaptive behavior. A record of maladaptive behavior may permit an individual to be qualified for SSI by virtue of concurrent IQ in the range of –2 to –2.66 SD and presence of another mental (or behavioral) disorder (Jacobson, 1990; Jacobson & Janicki, 1983).
Whereas situational and functional assessment are appropriate in intervention design for maladaptive behavior or behavior disorders or problems, norm-referenced or criterion-referenced instruments are appropriate for initial assessment (Reschly, 1992). Possibly the most thoroughly researched and well understood instrument to assess both prosocial and problem behavior among children generally is the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist (CBC—see Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1978). The CBC differentiates between internalizing (e.g., withdrawal, diminished interests, depressive affect) and externalizing (e.g., aggression against peers or adults, property destruction) behavior problems that may be consistent with a mental disorder (see also Borthwick-Duffy et al., 1997; Fidler et al., 2000; Hodapp et al., 1997). Norms for several versions of the CBC, which are age-graded, are available for both clinical and nonclinical child and youth populations.