Consumer validation of an index characterizing the functional abilities of young children with disabilities
Current systems for characterizing infants and young children with disabilities have been associated with a number of problems. The ABILITIES Index was developed as a way to describe the functional abilities and limitations of children across nine domains. This article reports the results of a survey of parents and professionals in early intervention programs to determine their perceptions of the ABILITIES Index as a means of assessing its consumer validity. A total of 209 parents, 91 teachers, 93 therapists, and 55 Developmental Evaluation Center specialists in early intervention and preschool programs in North Carolina evaluated the ABILITIES Index. Mean satisfaction ratings across five dimensions were generally positive, with parents consistently rating the instrument more positively than other consumers. Subsequent analyses indicated that, overall, level of education did not predict positive appraisal of the ABILITIES Index. Consumers offered a number of suggestions for how the Index could be used in early intervention.