A Review of the New Manual for the ACLS-5 and LACLS-5

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For several years a committee of the Allen Cognitive Network board has been working on enhancing the previous version of the ACLS/LACLS manual. The intent was to provide a manual with improved set-up, administration, and scoring guidelines, greater correlation to the relationship to the theoretical construct, and enhancement of the language to be more “research appropriate.” This fifth version is informed by the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. The authors of the new manual are Claudia Allen, Sarah Austin, Sandra David, Catherine Earhart, Deane McCraith, and Linda Riska-Williams.

New sections of the manual include: definition of "functional cognition," history of the cognitive disabilities model, setup of the tools with photos, color-coded administration instructions, revised scoring tables, assigning and interpreting scores, review of published research, and four Appendixes with references and resources for practitioners.

A More In-Depth Look at the New Manual
The new manual is a spiral bound book that comes with a plastic pouch to allow the clinician to easily carry the new manual and the ACLS and/or LACLS tool. Below I will describe the sections of the new manual in greater depth.

Section I: History
This section provides a brief history of the Cognitive Disabilities Model including publications and theoretical and organizational developments.

Section II: Introduction to the ACLS-5 and LACLS-5
This section describes the term “functional cognition” as it is explained as the construct that is measured by the ACLS. This provides the context for discussion of the structure of the assessment. There are additional content areas in this section including but not limited to qualifications for the administrators and a discussion of the dynamic nature of the administration process.

Section III: Setup
One of the most wonderful features of the new manual is the setup of the tool in photos. I have found many clinicians to make mistakes when setting up the tool. I believe the addition of the photos will help to decrease set-up errors. There are also new, easy-to-follow set-up instructions.

Section IV: Preparation for Administration
This section provides essential preparation guidelines specific to this fifth version and guidelines are provided for selecting when to use the ACLS-5 and the LACLS-5.

Section V: Administration
This section is substantially revised and enhanced over previous versions. This version provides a revision of the administration instructions to more accurately ground them in the theoretical assumptions of the cognitive disabilities model. The new administration instructions are in a new format in order to articulate the clinical reasoning skills required to effectively execute the dynamic administration process. Pictures add to this “user-friendly” version.

Section VI: Assigning a Score
This section of the manual is significantly enhanced. There are new scoring tables that outline the scores that theoretically correspond to the Allen scale of levels and modes of performance and the rating criteria for a score as well as additional behaviors/observations that are frequently observed, but not required for a score.

Section VII: Interpreting, Reporting, and Using Scores
This section is entirely new and a necessary addition to the manual. General guidelines for interpretation of scores obtained from the screening assessment and reporting of these scores are provided along with resources for more in-depth interpretation and use of scores in practice.

Section VIII: Review of Published Research
This new section provides a review of the most recent research related to the psychometric properties of the screening assessment and suggests areas for future inquiry.

Section IX: References
The manual is extensively referenced, drawing on a broad scope of published literature related to the Cognitive Disabilities Model.

The committee members who created this new manual are passionate about ensuring the ACLS/LACLS be used in practice accurately and with an understanding of the key theoretical constructs the tool is grounded within. In addition, the committee revised the manual to be “research friendly” with the plan and hope for continued research.

We should applaud the committee members for their many, many hours of work and dedication in the development of this new manual as they seek to maintain the efficacy and integrity of the ACLS/LACLS and the Allen Cognitive Disabilities Model.

Dementia Care Specialists is pleased to be a distributor of this new manual. Click for ordering information.

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About the Author

“I implore you to demand the training and education essential to ensuring the physical and emotional health, function, and safety of persons with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.”