(ABAS™-II) Adaptive Behavior Assessment System™, Second Edition

by Patti Harrison, PhD, Thomas Oakland, PhD

(ABAS™-II) Adaptive Behavior Assessment System™, Second Edition

by Patti Harrison, PhD, Thomas Oakland, PhD
Benefits Provides a complete assessment of adaptive skills across the life span
Ages Birth to 89 years
Admin time 15–20 minutes
Format Behavior rating scale typically completed by parent, caregiver, and/or teacher; self-rating option for adults
Scores For the 10 Skill Areas—norm-referenced scaled scores and test-age equivalents. For the 3 Adaptive Domains and the General Adaptive Composite (GAC)–norm-referenced standard scores and age-based percentile ranks. In addition, all scores can be categorized descriptively.
Publish Date 2003
Qualifications Level C required.
About Qualification Levels
Translation Available in Czech, Danish, French Canadian, German, Hebrew, Italian, Mandari: Simplified Characters, Mandarin: Traditional Characters, Romanian, Spanish, & Swedish
Published Translations
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About This Product

Picture of (ABAS™-II) Adaptive Behavior Assessment System™, Second Edition


Widely used to evaluate people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the ABAS-II assesses adaptive behavior in individuals from birth to 89 years of age. This convenient behavior rating scale measures daily living skills—what people actually do, or can do, without the assistance of others. It is particularly useful in evaluating individuals with pervasive developmental disorders, intellectual disability, neuropsychological problems, dementias, learning disabilities, biological risk factors, and sensory or physical impairments. 

The ABAS-II is compatible with state and federal special education classification systems, it covers the 10 adaptive skills specified in the DSM-IV-TR, and it generates scores that are consistent with the AAIDD definition of intellectual disability.

Multiple Raters, Different Perspectives

The ABAS-II includes five rating forms, each for a specific age range and respondent:

  • Parent/Primary Caregiver Form (Ages 0–5)
  • Teacher/Daycare Provider Form (Ages 2–5)
  • Parent Form (Ages 5–21)
  • Teacher Form (Ages 5–21)
  • Adult Form (Ages 16–89)

These forms can be completed by parents, family members, teachers, daycare staff, supervisors, counselors, or others who are familiar with the daily activities of the individual being evaluated. In addition, the Adult Form can function as a self-rating. (If raters have poor reading skills, you may read the items to them.)

Although it’s possible to evaluate adaptive skills using only a single rater, you’ll get a more complete assessment if you gather ratings from several people. Multiple ratings allow you to see how the individual performs in various settings. Because the ABAS-II requires just 15 to 20 minutes, it’s usually easy to obtain ratings from both parents and professionals.

Skills and Domains Consistent With AAIDD and DSM-IV-TR Guidelines

The ABAS-II covers three broad domains. Within these domains, it assesses 10 skill areas. Items focus on practical, everyday activities required to function, meet environmental demands, care for oneself, and interact with others effectively and independently. On a 4-point response scale, raters indicate whether, and how frequently, the individual performs each activity.      

ABAS-II Domains, Skill Areas, and Sample Items


Skill Area


School Age/Adult



Speaks in sentences of six or more words.

Ends conversations appropriately.

Functional Academics

Sings the alphabet song.

Makes reminder notes or lists.


Sits quietly for at least 1 minute without demanding an adult’s attention.

Completes large home or school projects on time.



Smiles when he/she sees a parent.

Laughs in response to funny comments or jokes.


Shows interest in mobiles or other moving toys.

Plays alone with toys, games, or other fun activities.



Holds and drinks from a sipping cup.

Uses public restroom alone.

Home/School Living

Takes own clothes from drawers or closet when getting dressed.

Wipes up spills at home/school.

Community Use

Asks to go to a park or other favorite place.

Finds the restrooms in a public place.

Work (or Motor for Infant/Preschool)

Shakes rattle or toy.

Cares properly for work supplies and equipment.

Health and Safety

Refrains from putting dirt or sand in mouth.

Carries scissors safely.

Scores Provided in Three Useful Formats

The ABAS-II generates norm-referenced standard scores for the 10 skill areas and three broad domains assessed, as specified by AAIDD and DSM-IV-TR guidelines. A total score—the General Adaptive Composite—is provided as well. Skill area scores are also available as test-age equivalents, while domain and composite scores can be represented as age-based percentile ranks. In addition, all scores can be categorized descriptively (Extremely Low, Borderline, Below Average, Average, Above Average, Superior, or Very Superior). The Manual includes clear guidelines for using ABAS-II scores to plan and monitor interventions.

Norms, based on ratings of more than 7,105 individuals in 31 age groups, are stratified by sex, race/ethnicity, and level of education. In addition to typically developing participants, the standardization sample included 20 clinical groups, representing disorders such as autism, ADHD, and visual impairment. 

Scoring Software for Quick Results and Interpretive Guidance

While the ABAS-II can be hand scored in just 5 to 10 minutes, computer scoring is even quicker and offers several advantages. The Scoring Assistant CD provides:

  • Conversion of raw scores to standard scores
  • Analyses of skill area strengths and composite score discrepancies
  • Skill area and composite score profiles

An enhanced version of the program—the Scoring Assistant and Intervention Planner CD—also allows generation of a narrative interpretation based on all scores, strengths and needs analysis, composite score discrepancy analysis, and overall summary of adaptive behavior; item-level interventions for ages 0 to 21; and progress-monitoring and respondent reports for ages 0 to 21.

The Scoring Assistant and Intervention Planner CD make it easy to identify appropriate treatment options and monitor progress when you are using the Infant/Preschool and School Forms.

Both the Scoring Assistant CD and the Scoring Assistant and Intervention Planner CD are unlimited use.

The Information You Need for Diagnosis and Treatment Planning

Measuring adaptive skills is important whenever a disability—intellectual or physical—affects daily functioning. Whether you’re trying to identify the best learning environment for a child or ensure that an older person can live independently, the ABAS-II provides the information you need to make appropriate clinical decisions and design effective intervention. Its applications are almost endless.

Regardless of the setting, the age of the individual, or the nature of his or her limitations, the ABAS-II can help you: 

  • Assess adaptive skills
  • Diagnose and classify disabilities and disorders
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Document and monitor progress over time
  • Develop treatment plans and training goals
  • Determine eligibility for services and Social Security disability benefits
  • Evaluate capability to live or work independently 

Because the ABAS-II conforms to AAIDD, DSM-IV-TR, and IDEA specifications, you can use it with confidence. This versatile test lets you gather information from several respondents in different settings to obtain a complete picture of an individual’s functional skills.

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