Cognitive Ability and Adaptive Functioning

Cognitive Ability and Adaptive Functioning

Refer for assessment

If there is a concern about cognitive ability or adaptive functioning and there has been no assessment during adolescence or adulthood, refer to a psychologist or, for adaptive functioning, to an occupational therapist with the expertise to assess.67, 68, 70

Cognitive ability and adaptive functioning are assessed for a diagnosis of IDD and can vary throughout the life span.67-70

Use tools

Use tools such as the Adaptive Functioning and Communication Tool71 as a guide if specialist assessments are unavailable or delayed.

  Recommended

Cognitive ability and adaptive functioning are assessed for a diagnosis of IDD and can vary throughout the life span.67-70

Reassess

Reassess cognitive and adaptive functioning to inform planning for expected service transitions  (see Life Transitions) or whenever a substantial change in behaviour occurs.67, 69

  Strongly Recommended

Empirical Expert

Changes in cognitive ability and adaptive functioning might affect eligibility for support services and can also account for behavioural changes.67, 69

Adaptive Functioning and Communication Fact Sheet

The fact sheet Adaptive Functioning and Communication, developed by the Developmental Disabilities Primary Care Initiative at Surrey Place (Toronto, 2011), describes adaptive functioning and communication for different levels of intellectual functioning.

  1. The AAIDD Ad Hoc Committee on Terminology and Classification, editor. Intellectual Disability: Definition, Classification, and Systems of Supports. 11th ed. Washington, DC: American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; 2010.
  2. American Psychiatric Association, American Psychiatric Association DSM-5 Task Force. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013.
  3. Schalock RL, Luckasson R. A systematic approach to subgroup classification in intellectual disability. Intellect Dev Disabil. 2015;53(5):358-66.
  4. Tasse MJ, Luckasson R, Schalock RL. The relation between intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior in the diagnosis of intellectual disability. Intellect Dev Disabil. 2016;54(6):381-90.
  5. Edwards B, Temple V, Dunn L. Adaptive functioning and communication associated with different levels of developmental disabilities (DD). In: Sullivan WF, Developmental Disabilities Primary Care Initiative Scientific and Editorial Staff, editors. Tools for the primary care of people with developmental disabilities. Toronto: MUMS Guideline Clearing House; 2011. p. 6-7.
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