Supports Intensity Scale®

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Product Information

What is the Supports Intensity Scale – Adult Version™ (SIS-A)™?

The SIS-A is a standardized assessment tool designed to measure the pattern and intensity of supports that a person aged 16 years and older with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) requires to be successful in community settings. First launched in 2004, the assessment tool was developed by AAIDD over a five-year period (1998 to 2003) and normed with over 1,300 culturally diverse people with IDD aged 16 to 72 in 33 US states and two Canadian provinces. The psychometric properties of the tool are strong: research published in peer-reviewed journals around the world continuously demonstrates the reliability and validity of the SIS-A.

SIS-A data describes a profile of the pattern and intensity of supports needs measured by type of support, frequency of support, and daily support time for each individual. In conjunction with other data, the data resulting from the SIS-A can be used to:

  • Provide a composite account and summary of the required supports for each individual client and for the overall service, measured by type of support, frequency of support, and daily support time.
  • Predict service needs that aid in planning and the provision of appropriate supports aligned to individuals.
  • Determine appropriate services and staffing required to support each individual.
  • Measure and compare support needs across and among adult clients who receive intellectual and developmental services.

What SIS-A Measures

The Supports Intensity Scale -Adult Version (SIS-A) has three sections:

Section 1 Exceptional Medical and Behavioral Needs:  Documents extra support needed to deal with specific medical and behavioral conditions. Two sub-sections address these domains:

  1. 18 medical areas for supports needed
  2. 12 behavioral areas for supports needed

Section 2 Support Needs Index:  Documents support needs for 57 life activities across three measures: how often the support is needed (Frequency), how much time is needed to provide support (Amount), and what kind of support is needed (Type).  Six sub-sections include: 

  1. Home Living Activities

  2. Community Living Activities

  3. Lifelong Learning Activities

  1. Employment Activities

  2. Health and Safety

  3. Social Activities


Section 3 Supplemental Protection and Advocacy Scale:  Examines various activities the individual performs to protect and advocate for him or herself. 

Rating Measures

  • Frequency refers to how often support is needed, e.g. 0/none to 4/hourly or more frequently)
  • Amount refers to how much time in one day another person is needed to provide support, e.g. 0/none to 4 hours or more
  • Type of support refers to what kind of support should be provided, e.g. 0/none to 4/full assistance

Additionally, ratings for the Exceptional Medical and Behavioral section of the SIS-A range from 0, or no support, to 2, or extensive support needed.

The Supports Intensity level is determined based on the Total Support Needs Index, which is a standard score generated from scores on all the items tested by the Scale. 

Why SIS-A is different

Traditionally, a person's level of developmental disability has been measured by the skills the individual lacks. SIS products shift the focus from deficiencies to support needs. The Scale evaluates practical supports people with developmental disabilities need to lead independent lives.


The assessment is done through an interview with the individual and those who have known the individual for at least three months.

Recommended qualifications of a SIS-A interviewer

  • Experienced in the human services field
  • Holds a four-year degree
  • Professionals with experience conducting individual assessments and who possess extensive knowledge of behavior rating or psychological testing principles.
  • If the interviewer will administer multiple interviews, the interviewer is recommended to attend a professional development/training workshop on how to score and administer the SIS-A.

The most qualified interviewers are those who have completed training. This ensures they are implementing the assessment with fidelity.

Click here to read frequently asked questions on the administration of SIS-A.



A paper and pencil-based test consisting of a 12-page Interview and Profile form. Forms are sold in bundles of 25. The accompanying 127-page User's Manual  is also necessary to complete training and administer a valid interview.


SISOnline is an advanced web application system that stores Supports Intensity Scale data online through a standard web browser. The system allows access to a variety of reports and statistics and maintains a database of historical information and more. The SISOnline system is composed of two applications: the SISOnline platform itself and the SISVenture data entry module for laptops. Through SISVenture, a downloadable software product, users can collect data while offline for later secure upload.

To learn more, click here.


SISVenture is a desktop application that allows you to score Supports Intensity Scale interviews. SISVenture temporarily stores interview data to be uploaded to SISOnline.

To inquire about SIS options, email

Other SIS Tools

AAIDD is the publisher, copyright holder, and sole owner of the SIS, SIS-A. SIS-C, Guidelines for Interviewing People with Disabilities (2015), Person-Centered Planning with the Supports Intensity Scale-Adult Version™: A Guide for Planning Teams (2017), and the SIS-A Annual Review Protocol (2018). The suite of SIS tools also includes all associated interview scoring forms, user’s guides, training manuals and materials, and associated electronic software platforms, most notably SISOnline and SISVenture.

Since 2004, AAIDD has demonstrated considerable experience supporting the implementation of SIS suite of tools domestically and internationally through

  1. conducting stakeholder information sessions,
  2. training potential assessors,
  3. training potential trainers using “train the trainer” model,
  4. performing quality assurance monitoring and refresher training,
  5. performing assessment services,
  6. granting SISOnline and SISVenture licenses,
  7. maintaining and upgrading the electronic software platforms,
  8. providing customization and configuration services, and
  9. providing ongoing technical assistance on the use of the electronic software platforms.


James R. Thompson; Brian R. Bryant; Robert L. Schalock; Karrie A. Shogren; Marc J. Tassé; Michael Wehmeyer; Edward M. Campbell; Ellis M. (Pat) Craig; Carolyn Hughes; David A. Rotholz.