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Validity, Inter-Rater Reliability, and Measures of Adaptive Behavior: Concerns Regarding the Probative Versus Prejudicial Value

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The question as to whether the assessment of adaptive behavior (AB) for evaluations of intellectual disability (ID) in the community meet the level of rigor necessary for admissibility in legal

The question as to whether the assessment of adaptive behavior (AB) for evaluations of intellectual disability (ID) in the community meet the level of rigor necessary for admissibility in legal cases is addressed. Adaptive behavior measures have made their way into the forensic domain where scientific evidence is put under great scrutiny. Assessment of ID in capital murder proceedings has garnished a lot of attention, but assessments of ID in adult populations also occur with some frequency in the context of other criminal proceedings (e.g., competence to stand trial; competence to waive Miranda rights), as well as eligibility for social security disability, social security insurance, Medicaid/Medicare, government housing, and post-secondary transition services. As will be demonstrated, markedly disparate findings between raters can occur on measures of AB even when the assessment is conducted in accordance with standard procedures (i.e., the person was assessed in a community setting, in real time, with multiple appropriate raters, when the person was younger than 18 years of age) and similar disparities can be found in the context of the unorthodox and untested retrospective assessment used in capital proceedings. With full recognition that some level of disparity is to be expected, the level of disparity that can arise when these measures are administered retrospectively calls into question the validity of the results and consequently, their probative value.

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  • 2018-02-01

The Effect of Exercise on Adaptive Behavior in Adults with Down Syndrome

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Adaptive behavior consists of the social, conceptual and practical skills an individual must execute to function independently in their everyday life. Individuals with Down syndrome have limitations in their adaptive

Adaptive behavior consists of the social, conceptual and practical skills an individual must execute to function independently in their everyday life. Individuals with Down syndrome have limitations in their adaptive behavior due to cognitive and physical deficits. The aim of this study was to examine if an exercise program would improve the adaptive behavior skills in persons with Down syndrome. The exercise intervention, Exercise for Adults with Down Syndrome (ExDS), was a semester long program where adults with Down syndrome participate in twice weekly workouts planned and executed by Arizona State University students. The workouts consisted of an aerobic warm up, aerobic exercises, resistance exercises, balance exercises and stretches. The participants' adaptive behavior and cognitive planning ability were assessed before ExDS and after ExDS. The Adaptive Behavior Assessment System Second Edition (ABAS-II) was used to measure adaptive behavior. The ABAS-II consisted of a forum that addressed the Social, Conceptual and Practical domains of adaptive behavior and was filled out by the participants' caregiver. The Tower of London (ToL) was used to measure cognitive planning ability. The change in the ABAS-II scores from pre- to post-testing were statistically insignificant. The change from pre- to post-testing in the ToL scores approached statistical significance. Limitations included bias caregiver perception and respondent inconsistency. There is a need for further research on the effect of exercise on the adaptive behavior in adults with Down syndrome.

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  • 2018-12

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A novel approach to study task organization in animal groups

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A key factor in the success of social animals is their organization of work. Mathematical models have been instrumental in unraveling how simple, individual-based rules can generate collective patterns via

A key factor in the success of social animals is their organization of work. Mathematical models have been instrumental in unraveling how simple, individual-based rules can generate collective patterns via self-organization. However, existing models offer limited insights into how these patterns are shaped by behavioral differences within groups, in part because they focus on analyzing specific rules rather than general mechanisms that can explain behavior at the individual-level. My work argues for a more principled approach that focuses on the question of how individuals make decisions in costly environments.

In Chapters 2 and 3, I demonstrate how this approach provides novel insights into factors that shape the flexibility and robustness of task organization in harvester ant colonies (Pogonomyrmex barbatus). My results show that the degree to which colonies can respond to work in fluctuating environments depends on how individuals weigh the costs of activity and update their behavior in response to social information. In Chapter 4, I introduce a mathematical framework to study the emergence of collective organization in heterogenous groups. My approach, which is based on the theory of multi-agent systems, focuses on myopic agents whose behavior emerges out of an independent valuation of alternative choices in a given work environment. The product of this dynamic is an equilibrium organization in which agents perform different tasks (or abstain from work) with an analytically defined set of threshold probabilities. The framework is minimally developed, but can be extended to include other factors known to affect task decisions including individual experience and social facilitation. This research contributes a novel approach to developing (and analyzing) models of task organization that can be applied in a broader range of contexts where animals cooperate.

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  • 2016