Task Analysis

Task analysis analyses a task and breaks it down into smaller steps.  For some children on the autism spectrum, even simple tasks can present complex challenges so understanding all the steps involved for a task, can assist in identifying any steps that may need extra instruction and will help teach the task in a logical progression.

  • It must be detailed enough so that someone unfamiliar with the task can perform it
  • It must be written in simple sentences
  • All steps are observable and stated in terms of person’s behavior
  • Steps are written in correct sequence
  • It includes 3 components: method, content and process.

Method: it is the way a task is performed, the prompts and teaching procedures that will be used. For most task, there are usually a variety of ways/method they can be completed.

Example; you can greet a person by saying “hello, shaking their hand, giving a hug, or a kiss on both chicks”. The key thing is to match the method with the person. Most children are not allowed to perform a task because they do not do them the way we do them, not because they cannot do it. If a child is having trouble doing a task one way, try another method.

Content; This is the steps which the chosen method is being divided. It is the breakdown of steps in the method – that is a set of teachable steps of a method for the child. This is the part of task analysis that most people are familiar with.

Example; Task with handwashing – steps involved

  • Roll up sleeves
  • Turn cold water on
  • Turn cold water on
  • Adjust to warm
  • Wet hands
  • Pick up soap
  • Dispense soap into hand
  • Work soap to lather
  • Scrub palms and back of hands
  • Scrub in-between fingers
  • Rinse soap from hand
  • Dry hands

Process; The strategies for teaching the content. This is the way in which the task is taught. It is the actual teaching of the method and content. it consists of;

  • Format; the way in which the task is presented
  • Feedback; information which tells the person what to do and how well the person has done (instructions, prompts, reinforcement)
  • Procedure; additional discussion which ties the process together essentially anything that will clarify the teaching process. (time, place, arrangement).

Benefits of Task Analysis

  • Makes teaching easier
  • Allows for individual instruction
  • Facilitates objectives evaluation
  • Allows for consistent training.

In developing a task analysis, it is important to remember the skill level of the child, the age, communication and processing abilities, and current skills in performing the task.