Motivation Assessment Scale (Durand & Crimmins, 1992) 

What does it assess?

  • Functions of behaviours of concern -  includes attention, sensory/ non-social, tangible, and escape. 

Who is it suitable for?

  • Designed for children or adults with developmental disabilities.
  • May be useful for adults with ABI.  

How is it administered?

  • Carers complete the scale and provide a rating for each item.
  • Can be administered in an interview format. 

How is it scored/ interpreted?

  • A speech pathologist, psychologist or other professional scores the items to determine the functions of each behaviour identified as a BOC.
  • Any ambiguities or unclear patterns can be resolved by direct observation of the person in situations thought to initiate the behaviour (i.e., hypothesis testing).  

What is its availability?

  • Available for purchase from Monaco & Associates $US79 for 25 forms and Guide, $US25 for additional packs of 25.
  • Score sheets are copyright protected.
  • How does it contribute to a communication assessment for someone with behaviours of concern?
  • Identifying the functions of behaviours of concern.
  • Must be used after the behaviours of concern have been clearly identified – for people with ABI, this can be done using the Overt Behaviour Scale (see Fact sheet for a complementary assessment for ABI).
  • Behaviours with attention, tangible and escape functions can be replaced by teaching appropriate communication (determined from a communication assessment).
  • Behaviours with sensory/ non-social functions may need to be further explored using an environmental assessment. 


Durand, V. M., & Crimmins, D. B. (1988). Identifying the variables maintaining self-injurious behavior. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 18, 99-117.

Zarcone, J. R., Rodgers, T. A., Iwata, B. A., Rourke, D. A., & et al. (1991). Reliability analysis of the Motivation Assessment Scale: A failure to replicate. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 12(4), 349-360.

Singh, N. N., Donatelli, L. S., Best, A., Williams, D. E., Barrera, F. J., Lenz, M. W., et al. (1993). Factor structure of the Motivation Assessment Scale. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 37(1), 65-74.

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