Supports Intensity Scale®

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Most frequently asked questions about SIS

From seeking sample interview forms to questions on conducting a pilot SIS program, here’s what your peers are asking about the Supports Intensity Scale.

Can I see a sample SIS interview form?
Yes, please visit this link to read a case study and a completed SIS interview form.

How much time does it take to administer SIS?
AAIDD SIS Trainer, Natalie Ihli says, "If you take advantage of having an individual's team present and take notes on specifics stated in the conversation you could spend 2 1/2 - 3 hrs. You can get a lot of information useful for developing a plan. The SIS is a conversation catalyst! Time taken depends on a number of factors, including the individual's attention span, time scheduled, number of people in the group, and goal of using SIS."

Can I start administering SIS-A and SIS-C from any section in the interview form?
 Yes, you can administer the SIS-A or SIS-C starting with any section, as long as all the sections are completed.  The order in which the subscales (or domains) are completed will not affect the individual’s score.  Some professionals have found it useful to start with Community Living Activities, a less personal area, and then proceeding to Home Living.

Can anyone administer SIS? 
The SIS should be administered by a professional who has completed a 4-year degree program and is working in the field of human services (for example, case manager, psychologist, social worker). However, under exceptional circumstances, others who have experience conducting individual assessments and possess an extensive knowledge of behavior rating or psychological testing principles may be acceptable.

Is there an electronic version of SIS available?
Yes, SIS is available electronically.  SISOnline is a web-based application that can be accessed universally at  SISOnline is available to large organizations as well as individual practitioners and small offices. To learn more about SIS electronic options, visit us here.  Individuals and small practices interested in SISOnline should send their queries to

How can I order SIS? Does AAIDD offer bulk discounts?
The SIS Manual and interview forms in paper version can be ordered by calling 202-387-1968 or sending an email to  Don't forget to ask about our discounts on the purchase of 50 test kits (Manual plus interview forms) or more. If you are interested in using the web-based application, SISOnline, please send a query to

Does AAIDD offer training on SIS?
Yes, AAIDD offers a cadre of professional trainers who will deliver customized workshops to your staff. Training ranges from a one-day comprehensive introduction to SIS and the administration process ($2,000 plus trainer expenses and cost of material) to conducting in-depth staff training.  AAIDD can also train administrators of SIS for two days or more, depending on staff size, as well as conduct specialized train-the-trainer workshops for your staff (cost proposal can be provided upon contact).  AAIDD highly recommends offering additional training to your staff on reliability and conducting interviews.  To set up a SIS training workshop, please email with the following details: Name of your organization, location, and preferred date for training.  AAIDD recommends no more than 20 persons for a one-day workshop. If you are interested in a train-the-trainer workshop, please include the size of your organization and the number of trainers you wish to have trained.

Why should I consider SIS training for staff?
In an in-depth training workshop, AAIDD trainers will focus on testing the reliability of staff conducting SIS interviews.  The SIS is as effective as the interview conducted with the client, and it is critical that staff understands the intent of the Scale and learn interview techniques to glean relevant information for service plans. In an in-depth training workshop, AAIDD trainers will observe staff conducting interviews, offer critiques, and also conduct mock interviews to enhance understanding of the SIS interview process. AAIDD highly recommends that staff undergo training on the interview process so that SIS interview results are reliable, i.e., consistent across all staff members administering the Scale.

Are there any national workshops on SIS/Train-the-Trainer workshops to be held in the future?
There are no planned workshops planned at this time, but AAIDD can conduct onsite training sessions upon request. Please contact and please refer to question above for information to include in your query.

Who is currently using SIS?
Since its publication since January 2004, SIS is being used across the U.S. and abroad by service providers and agencies.  There are currently 23 states that have adopted the tool.  AAIDD is in discussion with other states about adoption of SIS. Internationally, SIS has been translated into fourteen languages, and is in use in several countries, including Spain, Ireland, Iceland, Latvia, Portugal, Italy, Jamaica, and Taiwan. More foreign language translations are forthcoming.

Do you have examples of states that conducted successful pilot studies with the SIS?
AAIDD has worked with Oregon, Maryland, and New Mexico on pilot studies in the past.  For a complete list of states conducting SIS pilot studies please click here

Is SIS specifically for use with people with intellectual disabilities?
Yes. The SIS was normed on a population of over 1,200 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the US and Canada.

Can SIS be used with other developmental disability populations?
Yes. The term developmental disability (DD) was essentially created by the 91st United States Congress in 1970 with passage of the Developmental Disabilities Services and Facilities Construction Amendments (P.L. 91-517). The original definition of DD was a disability attributable to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or another neurological condition of an individual found by the Secretary to be clearly related to mental retardation or to require treatment similar to that for mentally retarded individuals.

As the DD Act was renewed to encourage the growth of additional community services and resources as part of a nationwide desinstutitonalization movement, additional disability groups (e.g., autism) were added to the categorical mix. In the 1977 reauthorization of the DD Act, the categorical approach was abandoned. It was replaced by a functional description that focused on what people could not do independently (e.g., limitations in capacity for independent living) and included an “age of onset” restriction (i.e., prior to age 22).

Today, policymakers and government officials typically refer to people with intellectual disability and related developmental disabilities (ID/DD) when discussing the population that is served by state ID/DD systems. This population shares a need for extraordinary supports in order to participate in life activities and experience life conditions that are valued by the vast majority of others in society. They are distinguished from people with a primary disability related to sensory issues (i.e., vision, hearing) and from people with a primary disability related to mental health issues. However, the ID/DD population is made of people with multiple disability diagnoses.

In every state there are many people who meet criteria for services from a state ID/DD system, but who do not meet diagnostic criteria associated with ID. The SIS is appropriate to use with such individuals because the standardization sample on which the SIS was normed is representative of state ID/DD systems population—that is, not everyone in the SIS standardization sample had a diagnosis of ID. Also, since it publication in 2004, the use of SIS has been investigated with several different disability populations. In each investigation its psychometric properties have been robust. So although there are not specific norms for people with a primary diagnosis of autism (for the sake of example), SIS items are certainly applicable to assess the support needs of people with autism. Moreover, one can compare the relatively intensity of a person with autism’s support needs with those of the standardization sample. Of course, people with a primary disability diagnosis of autism, intellectual disability, or any other disability may have additional personal support needs; therefore, there is always a need to carefully consider each person’s unique needs and circumstances at the individual planning level.

How is SIS different from adaptive behavior scales?
The SIS is not an adaptive behavior instrument and should not be used as one.  An adaptive behavior scale measures skills whereas SIS measures support needs in 85 life activities, and behavior and medical needs areas. For in-depth information on the relationship of SIS with measures of intelligence, please refer to pages 110 and 111 of the SIS User’s Manual.

I am a parent and I love SIS and would like it to be used with my child with a developmental disability. What should I do?
AAIDD has published the children's version of the SIS (SIS-C). Click here for more information.

Is AAIDD the sole publisher of SIS?
Yes, AAIDD is the sole publisher of SIS.

I would like to translate SIS into my native language. How can I go about it?
Please send AAIDD a query at

Are states using SIS for resource allocation? 
Yes, states using SIS as a funding model to set individualized budgets.  To view the list of states using or in the process of using SIS for resource allocation provided by the Human Service Resource Institute, please click here.