About the JIFS

The Jacobs Inventory of Functional Skills (JIFS) was designed to meet the challenge of evaluating and treating the developmentally delayed population. The main objective is to show what an individual can do now, and what he or she could do with support, intervention and encouragement.

There are two sections to the JIFS. The Life Skills section is organized to aid the therapist and/or caregiver in the ongoing encouragement of functional skill acquisition. The Foundation Skills section can aid the therapist in identifying the physiological reason for limited skills, making it a unique assessment tool for occupational therapists working with children and adults who are developmentally delayed, or any other population which does not fit into the peg hole of other assessment tools.

The JIFS is not standardized. It has been suggested to do so, but I do not plan on standardizing it. My main reason for this has to do with the realities of the developmentally delayed population or other such challenging populations. The JIFS recognizes that in many cases the developmentally delayed individual will never be 100% accurate or independent for some, if not all, tasks. What we have to acknowledge is that one does not have to be perfect to be functional. Having a percentile for performance means nothing to the individual or those caring for and working with them.

TRUE STORY: The harshness of percentiles first struck me when working at an outpatient pediatric clinic. Evaluations were done annually to keep track of progress. One year a mother told me she dreaded that time of year. Her reason was that even though her child was making clear, functional progress, it was not at a normal rate. Therefore the child’s percentile scores went down every year. The mother and I were proud of the wonderful progress her child had made, yet the score showed a decline. Often funding sources or insurance agencies look at the percentiles. It doesn’t look very promising when the numbers go “down” every year.

The JIFS was designed to focus on progress, improvement, what someone can do now, not that he or she is only getting farther and farther behind peers of the same chronological age.

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