The work of Dementia Care Specialists would not be possible without a theoretical framework. As you know, a key frame of reference for our teachings is the Allen Cognitive Disabilities Model. This framework has served as the foundation for our method of evaluation, treatment, education, and program development for serving persons with dementia.


My colleagues Chris Ebell and Caroline Copeland and I have worked diligently to implement and evolve the theoretical concepts. At times, the struggles felt insurmountable because of a sense of isolation. After all, in the environments in which we were practicing, we were often the only ones who utilized the Allen framework. Luckily for us, we had each other to share ideas, questions, and dreams. But, little did I know that a group of individuals had come together to network and to encourage the continued use and growth of the Allen model.


Approximately three years ago I learned of the Allen Cognitive Network and attended my first symposium which took place in St. Louis, Missouri in the fall of 2005. In 2006 I co-presented with my friend and colleague Diena Vivio, RN at the annual symposium in Indianapolis, Indiana. At the conclusion of the Indianapolis symposium I accepted an invitation to become a member of the board of the Allen Cognitive Network.


I would encourage each of you to learn more about this network. There is much value in being able to share ideas, visions, accomplishments, and challenges related to the Allen Cognitive Disabilities Model with our peers AND with Claudia Allen and Cathy Earhart, both of whom are very active within the network and at the symposiums. The network is an organization with an eclectic membership of rehabilitation professionals who share a similar passion and belief.


In addition to being a network to share information, the network board and committee members are committed to advancing the model. One of the most significant accomplishments of the network was the development of the 5th edition of the ACLS/LACLS manual created by a network committee. The new manual was necessary for many reasons including the overwhelming need for additional research and research that is of a high level of quality to merit recognition of the value of this tool. Increased and ongoing research to prove the validity of the Allen battery is necessary as we move into an evidence-based work and reimbursement environment. The administration and scoring guidelines have been modified as they were guided by the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. In this article, we have included a new description of the 5th edition of the manual, as written by one of the authors of the manual.


Membership is international and consists of persons from the occupational, physical, and speech therapy professions. Members are clinicians, managers, and educators. All share the common belief in the Allen Model and the desire for the model and battery to perpetuate and thrive in this evidence-based clinical era.


If interested, you can learn more about becoming a member of the network or about the 2008 annual symposium by visiting the website at


The Allen Cognitive Network


Education Survey: Members of the Allen Cognitive Network Education Committee have recently created a survey in which we are seeking to gather and analyze data on the education persons have received on the Allen Cognitive Disabilities Model. We invite and encourage you and others to take this survey. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Please follow the link below to connect to the survey.


A Public Access Bulletin Board (BB) is available on the website. This is a method to share updated news and happenings about the network and the Allen Model. You can access this bulletin board from the main website screen followed by selecting “member services.” From this menu, select “bulletin board.”


An  ACN Members' Online Community is available to those who are members of the network. This is essentially a forum for ACN members to communicate questions, responses, and ongoing networking.


Announcing the
7th Annual Allen Cognitive Symposium


Conference Theme:
“Interweaving the Cognitive Disabilities Model with other Intervention Models”


Boston/Natick, MA


Crowne Plaza – Boston/Natick
1360 Worcester Street (Route 9)
Natick, Massachusetts 01760


Symposium Dates:
November 7 & 8, 2008


Pre-symposium Workshop:
Nov 6, 2008

See the “call for papers” on the following page



Allen Cognitive Advisors, Ltd.


Call for Papers for the
7th Annual Allen Cognitive Symposium


Interweaving the Cognitive Disabilities Model
with other Intervention Models


Boston—November 7 & 8, 2008
Pre-symposium Workshop - Nov 6, 2008


Venue: Crowne Plaza – Boston/Natick 
1360 Worcester Street (Route 9)
Natick, Massachusetts 01760

  • Located in the heart of Metro West Boston
  • Easy access to Logan International Airport, Amtrak, and downtown Boston
  • Free Parking
  • In the vicinity of 4 major shopping malls (directly across from the new Natick Collections), a movie complex, and dozens of restaurants with complimentary hotel shuttle
  • Conference Room Rates will be available when early registration information is posted at

Target Audience

  • Occupational Therapists and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants
  • Physical Therapists and Physical Therapy Assistants
  • Speech Pathologists
  • Related Healthcare Clinicians & Academics

Information related to call for papers
The call for papers is being managed by OASIS, an abstract submission system. It can be located at in the dropdown tab for Symposium 2008.


You will be asked to provide a log in name and password. This will give you access to more information about symposium presentations and the process for submitting a proposal as well as to your documents at any time. The help button in the upper right corner provides directions and assistance.


For addition assistance or symposium questions, contact the co-chairpersons for Symposium 2008
Sarah Austin, or Deane McCraith,


Information on the Allen Cognitive Level Screen-5 (ACLS-5) and Large Allen Cognitive Level Screen-5 (LACLS-5)


Authors: C. K. Allen, S. L. Austin, S. K. David, C. A. Earhart, D. B. McCraith, L. Riska-Williams.


Publisher: ACLS and LACLS Committee, Camarillo, CA, USA: Copyright 2007


Description: This 5th version of the Allen cognitive level screen with a newly revised and updated 66 page manual is a dynamic, activity-based screening tool first developed in 1978 for use with the Allen cognitive disabilities model1. It is comprised of three visual-motor tasks (leather-lacing stitches) with increasingly complex activity demands. Completion of the three tasks requires the person attend to, cognitively understand, and use sensory & motor cues from the material objects (leather, lace, and needles), administrator’s verbal and demonstrated instructions and cues, and feedback from motor actions while making the stitches. The scores obtained are interpreted using the Allen Cognitive Scale of levels and modes of performance. The screen is available in two forms: the Allen Cognitive Level Screen-5 (ACLS-5) and a larger form (LACLS-5) for persons with vision or hand function problems.


Purpose: To obtain a quick measure of global cognitive processing capacities, learning potential, and performance abilities and to detect unrecognized or suspected problems related to functional cognition.


Construct being measured: “Functional cognition” encompasses functional performance abilities and global cognitive processing capacities. It incorporates the complex, dynamic interplay between 1) a person’s information processing abilities, occupational performance skills, values, and interests, 2) the increasingly complex motor, perceptual, and cognitive activity demands of three graded visual-motor tasks and 3) feedback from performance of these tasks in context.


Intended Use: To screen functional cognition for persons whose cognitive abilities appear to be in the range of 3.0 to 5.8 on the Allen scale of cognitive levels of performance.1 The strengths and problems that may be identified must be verified and supplemented with other assessments, e.g. Allen Diagnostic Module-2 (ADM-2)2 and the Routine Task Inventory – Expanded (RTI-2)3 and skilled observations grounded in the cognitive disabilities model and theory. This screen is not intended for use in isolation of other assessments or as a diagnostic tool. The information obtained is intended to guide occupation-based interventions at the level of activity demands, performance skills, and occupations based on the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework.4


Intended populations: Originally developed for use with adults with psychiatric disorders and for adults with dementia, the screen is recommended for use with populations whose patterns of functional behavior appear to reflect disruptions in global cognitive processing capacities as described by the cognitive disabilities model. The professional literature describes applications with adolescents with psychiatric problems and with adults who have experienced a traumatic brain injury or a cerebral vascular accident.


Who may administer, score, and interpret scores: Occupational therapists or other health care professionals who have experience working with persons with temporary or permanent cognitive impairments, training in the use of standardized assessments, and training or mentoring in use of the cognitive disabilities model and related assessments.


New in Manual for ACLS-5/LACLS-5 (66 pages) guided by Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing5

Substantially revised, expanded sections with photographs, color-coding, consistent cues & theoretical rationale

  • For set-up, preparation, administration and assigning of scores

New sections not published elsewhere

  • Historical perspective regarding the development of the theory, related publications and assessments
  • Definition of construct being measured & theoretical integration of leather-lacing tasks with levels of performance
  • Interpreting, reporting and using scores
  • Up-to-date published research including substantive evidence of reliability & validity
  • Appendixes with comprehensive, up-to-date reference list, glossary, examples, photographs and sources.

Source: S&S Worldwide, and Dementia Care Specialists, The manual and each form of the leather-lacing tool are available separately or together in a kit with a vinyl carrying pouch.


Citation: Allen, C. K., Austin, S.L., David, S. K., Earhart, C. A., McCraith, D. B, & Riska-Williams, L. (2007). Manual for the Allen cognitive level screen-5 (ACLS-5) and Large Allen cognitive level screen-5 (LACLS-5). Camarillo, CA: ACLS and LACLS Committee.
1. Allen, C., Earhart, C., & Blue, T. (1992). Occupational therapy treatment goals for the physically and cognitively disabled. Bethesda, MD: AOTA.
2. Earhart, C.A. (2006). Allen Diagnostic Module: Manual (2nd ed.). Colchester, CT: S&S Worldwide.
3. Katz, N. (2006). Routine Task Inventory – Expanded Manual. Retrieved April 1, 2008 from
4. AOTA (2002). Occupational therapy practice framework: domain and process. AJOT, 56, 609-639.
5. American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education (1999). Standards for educational and psychological testing. Washington, D.C.: American Educational Research Association.