Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Third Edition, VABS III

The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Third Edition or Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales III, is a standardized assessment for measuring a clients’ adaptive behaviors and can also diagnose developmental disabilities. The results from this assessment help professionals develop educational plans, intervention programs, and rehabilitation goals. 

Occupational therapists can use the norm-based Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales to assess what clients can do in their daily routine, identify strengths and weaknesses, provide age equivalents, and determine eligibility for different ability services.

What is the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales test?

The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales III is a standardized measurement that measures adaptive behavior skills using a semi-structured interview to assess clients from birth to 90+ years. Adaptive behaviors refer to conceptual skills, social skills, and practical skills that help us interact with others during a daily routine. The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales III measures adaptive behavior with questions looking within a social context and characterized by the client’s typical performance across multiple environments. The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales III has retained its core values for collecting participation-based information with current updates recognized as being more sensitive than previous editions. 

Additional updates include updating language in the questions to be more inclusive of global cultures and different abilities, including the use of technology and alternative types of communication.

Adaptive behaviors
  • Conceptual Skills: includes time awareness, money concepts, literacy, and self-direction.

  • Practical Skills: Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), safety awareness, use of money/money management, health management, community mobility/travel, understanding and ability to follow a schedule, and use of a phone.

  • Social Skills: Interpersonal skills, self-esteem, social problem solving, following rules, social awareness, gullibility, and social safety.  

The four domains assessed using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales-III include:
  • Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) 
  • Communication
  • Developmental and 
  • Social Relationships

The total scores for these domains make up the Adaptive Behavior Composite, ABC, standard score. This assessment measures a wide range of abilities from 0-90 years and commonly used in pediatric populations for 0-18 years to identify and diagnose intellectual and neurodevelopmental abilities. 

During this assessment, clinicians can collect information for further questioning to gain insight into the strengths and interests of each client to aid in creation of goals. Strengths of this assessment include a lengthy history of use and evidence using large sample sizes that contribute to the validity of the scores. 

Areas of weakness include weak interrater reliability, with scores varying among clinicians administering the assessment. Further longitudinal studies are being conducted to increase knowledge of how reliable scores are when used to track change in clients over a long period of time.

What age is the Vineland 3 assessment for? 

There are three forms, and five domains used during this assessment to collect information with each form specific for specific age ranges.

  • Short interview form: The short interview form is used for ages 0-90+ to gather information about the client’s adaptive behaviors from a client, caregiver, or parent. This form includes open ended questions to encourage the caregiver to elaborate on their perspective and build rapport with the therapist.

  • Parent/caregiver rating form: The parent/caregiver form is used for ages 0-90+ that gathers the client’s adaptive behaviors that occur within the home environment.

  • Teacher rating form: The teacher rating form is used for ages 3-21 years to collect information to gather information of the client’s adaptive behaviors within a classroom or daycare environment.


Five domains
  • Communication: Subdomain: Receptive, expressive and written

  • Daily Living Skills: Subdomain: Personal, domestic, community and school

  • Socialization: Subdomain: Interpersonal relationships, leisure, play, and coping skills

  • Maladaptive Behavior: Internalizing/behaviors with an emotional origin, externalizing/ acting-out behaviors and critical behaviors that may interfere with participation in a daily routine, considered severe and not scored on a scale.


Motor skills and maladaptive behavior are optional domains not included in the ABC composite score.

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Administration and scoring are available in both digital and print forms. The total time required to administer this assessment ranges from 20 to 90 minutes, with the comprehensive version requiring about 90 minutes to complete. 

Higher scores indicate higher levels of functioning for activities listed in each domain, for example, a score above 85 indicating average or above average functioning, and scores from 20-24, suggest profound impairment with adaptive behavior skills.

Establish rapport during administration by explaining the evaluation process, using active listening, and demonstrating preparedness by confirming medical information versus asking additional questions before starting your interview. Questions in the short interview form are open ended to encourage caregivers to share perspective and build rapport. Set an engaging atmosphere and use teach-back coaching methods to ensure clear communication between therapist and caregiver/client.

The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales-III can be administered in many settings making this assessment a multi-purpose tool for helping clinicians and educators perform various tasks such as treatment planning or determining eligibility for programs. 

Due to the interview nature of this assessment, occupational therapists can draw occupations for performance-based intervention planning from the questions to support participation in the client's daily routine. Scores can monitor progress over time and be used to identify changes in participation for goal occupations.

Results from this assessment can support the diagnosis of neurodevelopmental diagnoses. Scores can monitor progress over time and be used to identify changes in participation for goal occupations. 

The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales-III is a widely trusted assessment for measuring adaptive behaviors for daily occupations in a daily routine for a wide range of ages. This assessment is considered a suitable outcome measure within occupational therapy evaluations and can help therapists create goals and select appropriate treatment interventions. 


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