Supports Intensity Scale®

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Why SIS is unique?

Traditionally, a person's level of developmental disability has been measured by the skills the individual lacks. SIS shifts the paradigm from lacks to needs, i.e., the Scale evaluates what practical supports people with developmental disabilities need to lead normal, independent lives.

SIS is positive, supports-oriented, and person-centered

SIS allows professionals and family members to start the supports planning process with the goals and aspirations of the person, instead of skills and deficits. SIS also involves the person being evaluated from the beginning to the end of the planning process, making the supports assessment process inclusive and consumer-oriented.

Team and environment approach

SIS begins with an interview of the individual, with participation from a team of friends and supporters and this approach encourages a role for non-MR/DD professionals. The focus of SIS is on community resources, those closest to the individual, and building on self-identified goals of the individual.

Practical orientation

SIS gives professionals direct and reliable measures of practical supports required in daily living activities. The interview forms rank support requirements by frequency (none, once a month, and more), daily support time (none, less than 30 minutes, and more), and type of support needed (none, monitoring, verbal prompting, and more). The SIS User's Manual provides detailed instructions on how to score and administer the Scale. 

Case studies

The SIS Users Manual comes with case studies on three adults with different life experiences and needs. Each case study includes completed and scored interview and profile forms. Click here to see a completed case study.

Comprehensive Scoring System

The SIS interview and profile form presents assessment results in different ways. A subscale standard score indicates which of the daily activity areas require the most support. The Supports Needs Profile graphically plots these subscale scores for a quick visual overview of areas of high and low intensity support needs. Also, the SIS Needs Index provides a single score indicating overall level of supports required. A percentile ranking indicates how the individual compares to others nationally.

Scientifically valid and reliable

The SIS was extensively field tested for more than two years, making it a proven and highly reliable tool. SIS was normed on 1,306 adults who demonstrated a variety of adaptive behavior levels, levels of intelligence, secondary disabilities, living and working arrangements, ages, and ethnicities. It has been proven reliable based on five indices of reliability, and valid based on three types of validity.

Other management uses

Although designed as a tool for individualized supports planning, SIS can also be used to examine support needs across comparable groups and agencies including four types of analyses:

  • Descriptive analysis of summary statistics for program planning and population projections
  • Resource allocation analysis
  • Funding analysis examining how levels of support relate to funding
  • Covariate analyses that use SIS data as statistical adjustment in program evaluation.