Although the focus of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales – Second Edition (Vineland – II; Sparrow, Cicchetti, & Balla, 2005) is obviously adaptive skills, it also includes an optional maladaptive domain, consisting of four sections: internalizing, externalizing, critical items, and other. The scale produces three standard scores: internalizing, externalizing, and the Maladaptive Behavior Index. The authors describe this section as a screening tool that may be used to determine the need for further behavioural evaluation. However, the manual provides substantially less information on the maladaptive index as compared to the adaptive sections of the scale.
The Vineland – II manual does provide a comparison of maladaptive scores from the normative sample with verbal and nonverbal children and adolescents with autism. The results suggest that individuals with autism exhibit higher levels of maladaptive behaviour across all scales. The difference between the sample with autism and the normative group was greatest on the internalizing section. According to the authors the higher scores are due, in part, to the fact that a number of the internalizing items are characteristic of autism. The externalizing section scores are also higher among those with autism than the normative sample, but are still within the average range. The authors suggest that this is because many of the items within the externalizing scale are social in nature.
The information about the Maladaptive domain provided in the Vineland – II manual suggests that the characterization of internalizing and externalizing behaviours may not be appropriate for individuals with autism, due to the nature and characteristics associated with the disorder. The intent of this study is to analyze the individual items within the Maladaptive domain in order to determine a more appropriate framework for screening maladaptive behaviour in individuals with autism using the Vineland – II.
This was a file review study across multiple sites for individuals with autism in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. All measures were given within the context of routine clinical assessments by a team of trained clinicians. The Vineland – II was used as the measure of adaptive and maladaptive behaviours. In addition, measures of cognitive skills (Mullen Scales of Early Learning or The Stanford Binet Intelligence Scales – Fifth Edition), and severity of autism (Childhood Autism Rating Scale) were also administered to the participants.
Over 120 children, adolescents, and adults with autism and developmental disabilities participated in this study. Data analyses are currently underway. A factor analysis of the items within the maladaptive section of the Vineland – II will be performed as a means of determining whether or not the current construction of the scale is valid for individuals with autism and how maladaptive factor scores are related to participant characteristics, such as age, cognitive level, and severity of autism.
Conclusions will focus on the conceptualization and clinical implications of the results regarding the use of the Maladaptive domain within this population, including possible misinterpretations of the scale and how the maladaptive section of the Vineland – II may be better utilized for individuals with developmental disabilities and autism.