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AAIDD Launches New Diagnostic Tool

March 1, 2018: Washington, DC

The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities is proud to announce the launch of the Diagnostic Adaptive Behavior Scale™ (DABS), an assessment tool for use in the diagnosis of intellectual disability. The DABS is used with children and youth between the ages of 4 and 21 to determine whether they meet the second of three criteria for a diagnosis of intellectual disability, that is, significant limitations in adaptive behavior (conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills). The DABS is a norm-referenced instrument that uses data obtained from an interview with a respondent who knows the child or youth well.

Information about the DABS, including links to user’s manual, interview forms, and online scoring platform is available at

The DABS is unique in the testing world in its features that support the precision, accuracy, validity, and credibility in making a diagnosis of intellectual disability, including:

  • Measures some aspects of adaptive behavior that are not currently measured by other standardized instruments, including naiveté, gullibility, and technology-based skills.
  • Designed using item response theory (IRT) and reliably measures individual performance levels across the continuum of adaptive skills and ages.
  • Provides precise information to assist diagnosticians in determining significant limitations in adaptive behavior.

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


Founded in 1876, AAIDD is the oldest professional association concerned with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Learn more about the organization at

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