In the PABLLS stage of my life (my years of not knowing about the ABLLS, aka the pre-ABLLS stage), I felt lost when it came to assessing my students and selecting goals. I don’t even think I knew how lost I felt because this was also in my first few years of teaching when I felt lost when it came to pretty much everything. When I learned about the ABLLS (Assessment of Basic Language & Learning Skills) it was the sky had opened and small precious moment-looking angels coming floating down carrying this small spiraled book of magic. This is no exaggeration my friends. It all made sense. I finally had a system for tracking the (huge range) of skill levels for each student and then that added bonus piece – I knew where to go next!
Before I used the ABLLS, I honestly just haphazardly selected IEP goals. Like I said this was in my first few years of teaching and each IEP always seemed to come out of nowhere and I was always scrambling. Whatever goal I could think of basically had to hit 3 benchmarks: that student had don’t yet, it seemed roughly ‘good enough,’ and I knew how to teach it. Done. Once I started using the ABLLS I realized how faulty this system was. The goals I was selecting often weren’t in the correct sequence and was I really happy with ‘good enough’? Heck no. I wanted each IEP goal to be thoughtfully chosen. ABLLS to the rescue. (ps. it’s only $65 bucks on Amazon)
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.
Some Tips & Tricks!
If you are feeling overwhelming by delving into this all – no worries! I am so obsessed with the ABLLS that this is by no means the first mention of it on the blog. Last year my interns and I created a blog series that takes you step by step through each section of this assessment. Check out all of our ABLLS posts here.
The other thing that is incredibly overwhelming about this assessment is the stuff. You need a TON of material to implement this assessment. I used to be a hot mess running around my class pulling items into from different centers, file folders, and IEP bin work and tossing all into on giant laundry basket every time I wanted to run this assessment. Then it would be such a pain in the you know what getting everything back in the right spot. I kept thinking, “Man, if I could just have everything for this assessment in one place that was super organized so I could locate each item easily….” Yea, you get where I am going. Several hundred hours on the computer later… the ABLLS Resource Kit was born. Everything you need, a system for organizing and labeling it all, BOOM.
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Hello ! Is this tool appropriate for preschool aged children ?
It could be appropriate for a lot of kids in pre-school. My son started in the VB-MAPP in pre-school and then went into ABLLS at the end of pre-school. I think they overlap some, but VB-MAPP was really good for him starting out.
It will depend on the student, though. I think it would be appropriate for a lot of kids.
You also don’t work on all of it at once, so if some goals didn’t seem appropriate for pre-school, then you could wait on those.
But I think you might want VB-MAPP also for pre-school. Or instead. Depending. They are a lot alike, but VB-MAPP is age normed through 48 months, and then for ABLLS some things in it are more for kids older than pre-school. That is fine, you would pick what skills to work on and just wait on those until kids were older, but it is something where if you have the VB-MAPP it would not have anything like that.
VB-MAPP has a lot more terminology, too. Like — in VB-MAPP it says tacting, and in ABLLS it says requesting. But they are the same thing. There are some section for VB-MAPP where I never really understood the terminology and I was very involved with it as a parent.
But for my son they went together in a lot of ways, but with VB-MAPP first.
It was very exciting when he started having ABLLS, too!
Can you use this assessment with non-verbal students?
We are using the AFLAS in my school. This is the next step after the ABLLS. I wish I had all the resources you have made for that. Guess I will have to work on that.
Hi Sasha! I teach a high school MD class and am required to do the AFLS. Do you have materials that go along with the AFLS? I would love to purchase it! Thanks!
Could you do a post on VB-MAPP vs. ABLLS? I am also a middle school teacher for students with autism. In talking to individuals, I have been told that the VB-MAPP is what they would suggest using. However, I read your blog religiously and am always seeing you talk about ABLLS.
Could you give your opinions on the VB-MAPP vs. ABLLS?
I’ve been told by a few people that the VB-MAPP is easier to administer but also frequently read from you how great the ABLLS is.
I’m working on a post on this, actually. I personally have used the ABLLS longer and more frequently so I am more comfortable with it – which is why I always go to the ABLLS. The VB-MAPP is a thorough and comprehensive assessment as well. I think you can’t go wrong either way. They both provide valuable information, give you a baseline, allow tracking over time, and provide a suggested skill sequence.
Great suggestion! I love the AFLS!! I will add it to my list!
Love the AFLS. I am going to look into a resource for that as well!
Great tips and summary, Lesley! Thanks for sharing! I see a lot of value in both assessments as well!
Yes! It’s perfect for preschool aged children.
I am working on administering the ABLLS for a couple of students re-evaluations. I am wondering if you have a format you use to share out the data/information to family members? In the past, I have colored in the graph but also listed out skills they are able and unable to do.
That’s what I typically do. I provide a copy of the graph and then write a brief summary for each section (similar as to what is the protocol handbook).
How can I buy it? How much does it cost?
The actual ABLLS books are around $60-$70 and this resource is $40. 🙂
Hi Sasha –
We dowloaded the ABLLS Assessment Kit – thank you! What size laminating sheets do you use on the manila folders?
Hi Cynthia! They’re Menu sized – check out this post here! https://theautismhelper.com/my-five-essential-prep-and-organization-supplies/
Hi I only have one child that needs the abbls and I do not know how to administer it. However; can you tell me how to go about purchasing it, so that it is financially feasible? And how do we get trained on the tool?
Yes, it’s super reasonably priced for an assessment. The testing book is around $70 on amazon.