Adaptive Behavior Assessment and the Diagnosis of Mental Retardation in Capital Cases

University of South Florida, Tampa, 33612, USA.
Applied Neuropsychology (Impact Factor: 1.97). 02/2009; 16(2):114-23. DOI: 10.1080/09084280902864451
Source: PubMed


There are essentially three main prongs to the definition and diagnosis of the condition known as mental retardation: deficits in intellectual functioning, deficits in adaptive behavior, and onset of these deficits during the developmental period. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 in a decision known as Atkins v. Virginia that it was essentially cruel and unusual punishment to execute a person with mental retardation, thus violating the Eighth Amendment of the American Constitution. For the purpose of this article, we focused on the issues as they relate to the second prong of the definition of mental retardation, that is, adaptive behavior. We present and discuss the primary concerns and issues related to the assessment of adaptive behavior when making a diagnosis of mental retardation in an Atkins claim case. Issues related to standardized assessment instruments, self-report, selection of respondents, use of collateral information, malingering, and clinical judgment are discussed.

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Available from: Marc J. Tassé, Aug 28, 2014
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    • "Consistency among thirdparty reports provides evidence of valid responses and reliable respondents (Stevens & Price, 2006). Tassé (2009) takes this issue of consistency one step further by suggesting the collection of information from respondents across multiple contexts (e.g., school, home, work, etc.) is just as important as gathering data from multiple respondents. This procedure is consistent with the diagnostic criteria that require deficits across multiple skill areas. "
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    ABSTRACT: The current paper addresses the ethical dilemmas presented in terms of informed consent and disclosing confidentiality to third-party informants in Atkins cases. The conundrum is that of balancing appropriate disclosure with the potential for undue bias on the part of the respondent. Although aspirational in nature, there are substantial limitations and a problematic lack of guidance in the provisions of the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology. Informal feedback from practicing psychologists with experience in this area was elicited with regard to their approach to disclosure. Responses varied and were seemingly dependent upon their professional experience. A review of the relevant literature and directions for future research are discussed with an emphasis on suggestions for practice. The authors suggest that prioritization and open dialogue can serve to appropriately direct professional practice toward an appropriate balancing of goals. Link to full text:
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice
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    • "Firstly, there is a general agreement among scientists and clinicians that the presence of significant levels of behavior problems does not mean significant limitations in adaptive functioning (Luckasson et al., 2002; Schalock et al., 2010; Tassé, 2009). Secondly, although adaptive and maladaptive behaviors are moderate or strongly related in people who present a co-morbid condition (i.e., Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD) (e.g., Kearny & Healy, 2011), these constructs are weakly related in people with ID and no other conditions (Tassé, 2009). Finally, problem behaviors are not critical issues for diagnosing ID whereas such behaviors may be the answer to inappropriate environments where people lack of alternative communication skills (Schalock, 1999). "
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    ABSTRACT: Although the presence of significant limitations in adaptive behavior constitutes one of the three necessary criteria for diagnosing intellectual disability, adaptive behavior structure has always been the subject of considerable controversy among researchers. The main goal of this study is to extend previous research results that provide further support to a multidimensional structure of conceptual, social, and practical skills compared to the unidimensional structure. One-factor and 3-correlated factors models as measured by 15 observable indicators were analyzed by means of confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), as well as their relationships with one second-order factor (i.e., adaptive behavior). To that end, 388 children with and without intellectual disabilities were assessed with the Diagnostic Adaptive Behavior Scale (DABS). Results of CFA indicated that the 3 first-order factors solution provides the best fit to the data. Reliability and validity of the multidimensional model were also analyzed through different methods such as the composite reliability and the average variance extracted. Finally, implications of these findings and possible directions for future research are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology
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    • "Conducting a retrospective assessment of a person's adaptive behavior is very challenging (Everington & Olley, 2008). As noted by Tassé (2009), there is no research available examining the reliability or error rate of adaptive behavior assessments obtained retrospectively. Despite these important cautions, Olley and Cox (2008) affirm the necessity of relying on the retrospective diagnosis in certain situations. "
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    ABSTRACT: This article updates the current conceptualization, measurement, and use of the adaptive behavior construct. Major sections of the article address an understanding of the construct, the current approaches to its measurement, four assessment issues and challenges related to the use of adaptive behavior information for the diagnosis of intellectual disability, and two future issues regarding the relations of adaptive behavior to multidimensional models of personal competence and the distribution of adaptive behavior scores. An understanding of the construct of adaptive behavior and its measurement is critical to clinicians and practitioners in the field because of its role in understanding the phenomenon of intellectual disability, diagnosing a person with intellectual disability, providing a framework for person-referenced education and habilitation goals, and focusing on an essential dimension of human functioning.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
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