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What Is Adaptive Behavior?

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Updated May 27, 2014

Girl (3-5) brushing hair, close-up
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Definition:

Adaptive Behavior includes the age-appropriate behaviors necessary for people to live independently and to function safely and appropriately in daily life. Adaptive behaviors include real life skills such as grooming, dressing, safety, safe food handling, school rules, ability to work, money management, cleaning, making friends, social skills, and personal responsibility.

Adaptive behavior assessments are used in evaluation of students with learning disabilities to determine what behavior strengths and weaknesses should be addressed to improve the learner's possibility for success in school and life. It is not uncommon for learning disabled students to require specially designed instruction to learn adaptive behaviors.

Adaptive behavior is usually assessed using questionnaires completed by parents, teachers, social workers, students (when possible and appropriate), or adult learners. Adaptive behavior can also be assessed based on observationsof the child's actual performance of a specific skill.

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Also Known As: Social Competence, Independent Living, Life Skills, Adaptive Behavioral Functioning, Independence,

Examples:
Many students with SLDs need instruction to develop planning, organizational skills, and study skills, which are important adaptive behaviors.

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