Supports Intensity Scale

IDENTIFYING SUPPORTS FOR SUCCESS

New Hampshire’s Developmental Services system uses an assessment tool for young adults and adults who have intellectual disabilities and acquired brain disorders. This tool is called the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS). Traditionally, a person’s level of intellectual disability has been measured by the skills the individual lacks. SIS shifts the focus from what a person lacks to the support a person needs to successfully participate in all aspects of daily life. The SIS evaluates and measures the practical supports that people with intellectual disabilities need to lead productive, independent lives and to successfully engage in everyday activities. A SIS Interview is completed every five years for all individuals, ages 16+, who receive any area agency services. 


SIS measures support needs in the areas of home living, community living, lifelong learning, employment, health and safety, social activities and protection and advocacy. A formal rating scale is used:

  • Type of Support Needed (ranging from none to full physical assistance)
  • Frequency of Support Needed (ranging from none to hourly or more frequently)
  • Daily Support Time (ranging from none to more than four hours per day)

Exceptional Medical and Behavioral Needs are also evaluated. Support needs in these areas are rated in the following way:

  • No Support Needed
  • Some Support Needed
  • Extensive Support Needed

The individual, family, guardian and others who support the individual are all invited to participate in the SIS interview and assessment, making the SIS process inclusive, personalized and person-centered.


SIS interviewers have been specially trained and certified in administering the SIS. The interview itself must be done face-to-face, may take up to 2-3 hours to complete and must include, in addition to the individual, at least two people who know the person well in a variety of situations.


After the SIS interview is completed, the results are used to develop a “Total Support Needs Index” which is a standard score generated from the scores on all the items tested by the scale. A SIS report will be generated and can help the individual, family members, guardians and others who support the person to set goals and to identify the person’s aspirations.

BENEFITS OF THE SUPPORT INTENSITY SCALE

  • Direct, reliable, and valid measurement of support requirements in 57 specific areas of life activities as well as supports needed to prevent or manage 29 different exceptional medical and behavioral challenges.
  • Solid knowledge of the person’s needs, preferences and goals for life. Information about what supports are important to the individual as well as those that are important for the individual.
  • A consistent method for planning supports and ensuring funding is used for areas needed.

Question: Will the amount of funding an individual receives be determined by the SIS interview?

Answer: The SIS will be used as an important part of determining initial funding and for service planning. The results of the SIS will be added to other important information about the individual to create the service plan and budget. 

TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL SIS INTERVIEW

 Before the interview:

  • Learn more about the SIS before the interview  
  • Think about the supports the individual needs to be successful (not the supports he/she is currently receiving)
  • Be prepared for the interview to take 2-3 hours
  • Ensure the appropriate team members have been invited to participate in the SIS

   During the interview:

  • Keep an open mind about things the individual may not be doing now, but may do in the future.
  • Follow the rating scales carefully and ask questions of the interviewer if there is anything you don’t understand.
  • Don’t underestimate support needs.
  • If you disagree with anything that is said, say so.

WHERE CAN I FIND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE SIS?

  •  Additional information on the SIS can be obtained by going to the web site: www.aaidd.org/sis Family members and guardians working with one of the ten Area Agencies can speak with their case manager about the Support Intensity Scale (SIS).
  • More information is also available by contacting: CSNI, 603-229-1982