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Supports Intensity Scale is effective for identifying needs in people with intellectual disability

Study was conducted with 274 adults with intellectual disabilities currently receiving funding from a state developmental disability agency

Washington, DC(February 23, 2009)The Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) assessment tool can effectively predict funding for people with intellectual disability based on individual needs, and it is truly a needs-based assessment tool, unlike adaptive behavior instruments or other measures of personal competence commonly used to determine services for people with intellectual disabilities, reveals a new study with 274 adults currently receiving funding from a state developmental disability agency. The study, titled, "Efficacy of the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) to Predict Extraordinary Support Needs" is published in the January 2009 issue of the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AJIDD). The SIS is a planning tool developed by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to assess needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 85 life areas.

"The most significant finding of this study is that the Supports Intensity Scale measures something unique from measures of personal competence. It captures a person's support needs," explains Dr. Michael Wehmeyer, Senior Scientist at the Beach Center on Disability and the study's co-author. "This is significant because it presents the field of developmental disability with a unique opportunity to base services and funding decisions on the needs and goals of a person living with an intellectual disability."

Dr. Wehmeyer explains further, "Measures of personal competence such as IQ tests and adaptive behavior assessments, while serving an important role in the diagnosis and classification of intellectual disability, are not necessarily designed to provide meaningful information for developing programs and services for people with developmental disabilities." Historically, in developmental disability services, funding and services for people are based on the assessment of the skills of a person with an intellectual disability, that is, what a person can or cannot do. The Supports Intensity Scale on the other hand, measures the level and intensity of support a person needs to do whatever the individual needs or wants to do in life.

In the study conducted by six researchers, including four of the original SIS authors, 274 people with intellectual disability currently receiving funding from one state using the Developmental Disabilities Profile (DDP), a commonly-used tool to determine eligibility for developmental disability services, were administered the Supports Intensity Scale assessment. The researchers then examined the variations in support needs as a function of level of disability, medical concerns, and other factors.

The study concludes: "Using the SIS as a means to determine actual supports needed would be as or more effective than using the DDP or professional/personal judgment alonethe SIS would be potentially more effective for equitably determining need for extraordinary funding if equitable refers to funding on the basis of an individual's intensity of supports needed."


Contact: Anu Prabhala
American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

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