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NC Department of Health and Human Services Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services


Support Planning Process Supports Intensity Scale

The Supports Intensity Scaleā„¢ (SIS) is a tool designed to measure the relative intensity of support each person with developmental disabilities needs to fully participate in community life. In the NC public system, individuals with CAP-MR/DD choosing to self-direct their services, and individuals with high medical and/or behavioral needs will be prioritized to have a SIS completed.

The SIS is intended to be used in conjunction with person-centered planning processes to assist planning teams in developing individual support plans that are responsive to the needs and choices of persons with disabilities.

It can be used in combination with other assessment tools, such as the NC SNAP, psychological assessments, risk assessments, etc. to assist individuals receiving services and their support teams in developing person-centered plans that focus on strengths and abilities, not deficits.

The SIS includes 3 sections, each of which measures a particular area of support need:

Section 1

The Supports Needs Scale consists of 49 life activities grouped into six domains:

  • Home Living
  • Employment
  • Community Living
  • Health and Safety
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Social Activities

Scores from this section provide two indices of support needs. The SIS Supports Needs Index provides a composite score that reflects a person’s overall intensity of support needs relative to others with developmental disabilities. The Supports Needs Profile provides a visual graph or pattern of a person’s support needs across all six life activity domains.

Section 2

The Supplemental Protection and Advocacy Scale measures 8 activities. These rankings are helpful in developing individualized support plans, but the scores from this section are not used to determine either of the support needs indices mentioned above.

Section 3

Exceptional Medical and Behavioral Supports Needs measures support needs across 15 medical conditions and 12 problem behaviors. An underlying assumption of the SIS is that certain medical conditions and challenging behaviors predict that a person will require increased support over time. The medical and behavioral items identify important considerations for support needs planning and also indicate cases where the SIS Supports Needs Index may underestimate a person’s “true” overall level of support needs. (From the AAIDD website


Supports Intensity Scale Links:

Links to other state information using the SIS:


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