Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On PinterestVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On LinkedinCheck Our Feed

ABLLS: Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills

Jan 17

ABLLS: Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills

I have spent most of the last two mornings updating a few students’ ABLLS assessment and I am extra excited to share with you the joys of this assessment… because I secretly want to brag about my kiddos progress. Okay, maybe not so secretly. ABLLS stands for the assessment of basic language and learning skills. It’s assessment, curriculum guide, and tracking program for children with language delays. It’s used very commonly with children with autism and cognitive disabilities.

I LOVE this assessment for my students who are lower functioning or have emerging verbal/academic skills. I do not use this assessment with my higher functioning students because it’s a little too basic. The skill set is focused on a typically developing kindergartener. If I had a younger class I may use this with all my students because it’s more relevant but for my group now I use it with 4 students.

Why I LOVE this assessment (yes it’s necessary to use all caps): This assessment gives such valuable knowledge of what skill sets your student is missing. In doing so it gives great insight into what you should be writing for IEP goals or program goals. This has been especially helpful for the students I have had for a few years and aren’t quite sure where to go next. The other reason I love this assessment is you can update the progress tracking chart to show progress. It gives this incredible visual depiction of growth (that parents love!).


So basically there are 26 skill areas (ranging from visual performance to labeling to reading). Within the skill that there are a bunch of tasks. You rate how well the student can accomplish the task with the rubric. If they can’t do it at all you leave it blank. The rubric will indicate how many boxes to fill in if they can somewhat do the task.


Once you go through all of the tasks your progress tracking sheet will look something like this:


While I go through this assessment, I find it gets overwhelming with how many goal ideas I could use. I always keep plenty of post its near by to start a list of significant areas of difficultly I am finding.



Now the cool part: the color you fill out the form with is associated with a date. Every few months or twice a year you can update this to show progress. The next time you fill it out – use a new color. This has a great visual cue of how much progress your student has made :)

Check out my student’s rockstar progress: (the orange and blue are two different assessment dates since I have had him as a student and the gray is his baseline when he came to me) AHHHH!


You can get the ABLLS from Amazon for $65.00. We convinced our ┬áprincipal to get it for us two years ago – I recommend that approach :)


  1. Amanda /

    What do you use for the higher functioning students? Do you use/like VB-MAPP?

    • I have used the VB-MAPP but don’t currently have a copy – it’s up on my to-do list to ask my principal to buy for me. Have to space out my requests :) Do you use the VB-MAPP? What are your thoughts comparing the two?

  2. I have used both the ABLLS and the VB-MAPP. I think the VB-MAPP was less intensive and easier and I liked that it gave general age ranges (in months) for the results. But my district purchased a materials kit for the ABLLS and its pretty awesome for assessing and working on the skills so that is why I have made the switch.

  3. Hi, Great post! I was just thinking about this assessment today on the way home from school. (I’ve learned about the ABLLS when I got my Autism credential but it seem like it would be overwhelming to set up. How have you you organized all the items needed to give this assessment?) I am an SDC teacher (mild/moderate) and don’t have any students dx with Autism, but I can see how some of the sections would be very helpful for me to see what subskills other of my students are lacking.

    • Thanks Lisa! When I get ready to do the ABLLS, I pull all relevant materials and put in a bin so it’s nearby. By now I kind of know which materials I will need for which sections and have made some activities for specific sections. And yes you can buy a set with all materials but it’s super expensive!

    • Liz Gaulin /

      Where did you get your autism credential ?

      • I don’t have an autism credential – I have my master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis :)

  4. I should also add to my previous post that all I have is the assessment book (which I was got in the classes I took). Is it possible to purchase all the materials needed to give it? (I have thought that I would have to come up with all the materials and organize them in small bins or something!)

  5. Jenni /

    Could anyone please let me know if this would be a good resource for a speech language pathologist? I really don’t know what to use to assess the needs of my middle school severe and profound students. Thank you!

  6. Jenni /

    Hello! Did you get a chance yet to ask your SLP if she thinks a speech therapist could use the ABLLS? Thank you!

    • admin /

      She said that she does think the ABLLS would be helpful for basic assessment!

  7. Is ABLLS something that my school would need to purchase? How do I get this assessment for my students?

  8. Do you think it would be worth the extra cost to get the materials kit? Or is it easy enough to use things that you have in the classroom?

    I’m looking to get our district to get this for us and wanted to know what to ask for.


    • No, I don’t really think it’s worth it. I usually see those sets at $1000+. I def don’t think it’s worth that. I can find most materials within the classroom easily.

  9. Jessica /

    Do you have set lists for the intraverbal section? I find it difficult to come up with 50 + questions for certain goals.

  10. Sherina /

    Can anyone tell me whether you buy any of these if you can just buy one for the teacher or whether you need one for each student? Also, any recommendations as to which is more appropriate for learners aged 14 and older who have autism?

  11. I am also beginning to notice that one of my students is advanced, I would like to know after what program would be a good program to move on from ABLLS

    • For older kids, I like the AFLS – Assessment of Functional Living Skills. For younger students, who need to focus more on academics – I use the common core!

      • Samantha /

        Do you think the AFLS would be beneficial for students that are more independent? I struggle with ABLLS because it is too simple for most of my students. I teach 2-5 elementary so I am not sure that I would need all 5 books, what can you recommend?

        • I think the AFLS would be beneficial although at 2-5th grade you might want to still be balancing academic and functional. For my kids who seem a bit beyond the ABLLS – I only use the receptive language, labeling, & academic sections! Hope this helps :)

  12. Gayle /

    Would you use this for early intervention children having ASD?

Keep the discussion going! What are your thoughts?