Adriana Lavi, PhD, CCC-SLP
CAPs is a revolutionary assessment that uses video scenes of real people in social situations to assess an examinee’s ability to understand and use pragmatic language, including nonverbal cues, as well as overall dynamics of social context. The videos depict real-life situations, and the examinee responds to questions posed by the examiner after watching each clip. The norm-referenced measure is sensitive to pragmatic deficits exhibited by students with high-functioning autism, language delays, and social (pragmatic) communication disorders.
Range of CAPs uses
The battery of six subtests allows the clinician to obtain a comprehensive profile of pragmatic language skills and social language development. The test helps to:
- Identify pragmatic language deficits and determine the degree of such deficits (e.g., initial IEP-based evaluations)
- Determine strengths and weaknesses within a variety of pragmatic language domains (e.g., pragmatic judgment versus performance, instrumental communication versus affective communication, comprehension and use of paralinguistic cues)
- Document progress in pragmatic language skills, measure treatment efficacy, or re-evaluate overall pragmatic language profiles as part of triennial IEP-based reviews
- Analyze social (pragmatic) language skills in children and young adults for research purposes
Need for Pragmatic Assessment
Speech–language pathologists in schools have limited time for informal pragmatic language evaluations. An increasing number of students are referred for pragmatic language evaluations in schools, but SLPs and school psychologists do not have access to effective and efficient assessment instruments in this area. As a practicing SLP, the author developed this test because of the huge need she witnessed over 15 years.
Video-Based Social Situations
Using a series of video-based social scenarios, examinees are presented with scenes and are asked two types of questions:
- On the pragmatic judgment (receptive pragmatic) subtests, the examinees are asked to judge the appropriateness of a variety of social situations by answering the following: “Did anything go wrong in this video?” and “What went wrong?”
- On the pragmatic performance (expressive pragmatic) subtests, the examinees are presented with a social situation and are asked: “What would you say and how?”
The actors in the videos come from a wide variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and the verbal dialogue is easy to understand. The presentation is controlled for speed without being unnaturally slow. Vocabulary is appropriate to the testing age range, and the real-life situations commonly occur in environments with which the participants could be expected to be familiar.
Standard scores are provided to assess knowledge of:
- Pragmatic judgment (comprehension)
- Performance of pragmatic language (expression)
- Understanding context and emotions (intent of the speaker through inference, sarcasm, and indirect requests)
- Nonverbal cues (facial expressions, prosody, and gestures)
- Comprehensive Profile of Pragmatic Language Skills
CAPs evaluates an examinee’s level of pragmatic judgment (meaning their ability to comprehend social situations) and their ability to express themselves in an appropriate manner within various social situations. The pragmatic performance aspect of this test is a unique feature that allows the examiner to elicit the participant’s verbal and nonverbal responses. Beginning with “superficial” layers of social situations, this test delves into every level of pragmatics and assesses “intricate” high-level skills, such as an examinee’s ability to express sadness, gratitude, frustration, support, surprise, and their ability to use nonverbal language.
Assessment of Paralinguistic Skills (Reading and Using Nonverbal Language)
A key area that may have been overlooked by traditional testing is the examinee’s use of higher-level pragmatic language, specifically the ability to use affective communication and paralinguistic cues. The Paralinguistic Decoding subtest assesses the ability to use various nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, tone of voice, inflections in prosody, gestures, and overall body language to express a variety of communicative intents.
CAPs is an effective means by which speech–language pathologists, as well as other related practitioners, can obtain a comprehensive understanding of their examinees’ pragmatic language needs across social situations.
Efficient Administration and Scoring
The interactive CAPs test can be administered with relative ease. Scoring has been simplified by listing the scoring criteria and rubrics in the Examiner Record Forms. A listing of the most common correct and incorrect responses is provided in the CAPs manual.
The CAPs is also available on the WPS Online Evaluation System. With the CAPs Online Kit, you get access to online video and forms, allowing for easier remote administration.
A recent study compared performance on the CAPs using remote administration vs. in-person administration, and the results suggest that test scores obtained through administering the CAPs remotely are equivalent to test scores obtained through standardized, in-person administration.
Related Search Terms
CAPs, Clinical Assessment of Pragmatics, Social Communication Disorder