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Diagnostic Adaptive Behavior Scale (DABS)



The Diagnostic Adaptive Behavior Scale® (DABS®) provides a comprehensive standardized assessment of adaptive behavior. One of the three criteria necessary for diagnosing intellectual disability is "limitations in adaptive behavior."

The DABS provides precise diagnostic information around the cutoff point where an individual is deemed to have “significant limitations” in adaptive behavior. The DABS is designed for use with individuals from 4 to 21 years old.  


Using the DABS

A paper-and-pencil interview form is used to capture data items. The assessment is scored with an electronic platform on the AAIDD website which requires an access code. Scoring access codes are available in the AAIDD Bookstore and information on accessing the scoring platform is provided with access code purchase.


Adaptive Behavior

Adaptive behavior is the collection of conceptual, social, and practical skills that all people learn in order to function in their daily lives. The DABS measures adaptive behavior in these three areas:

  • Conceptual skills: literacy; self-direction; and concepts of number, money, and time
  • Social skills: interpersonal skills, social responsibility, self-esteem, gullibility, naïveté (i.e., wariness), social problem solving, following rules, obeying laws, and avoiding being victimized
  • Practical skills: activities of daily living (personal care), occupational skills, use of money, safety, health care, travel/transportation, schedules/routines, and use of the telephone


The DABS authors are Marc J. Tassé, Robert L. Schalock, David Thissen, Giulia Balboni, Henry (Hank) Bersani, Jr., Sharon A. Borthwick-Duffy, Scott Spreat, Keith F. Widaman, and Dalun Zhang.

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