Teaching Life Skills with Task Analysis

Take It Step-By-Step

Time to discuss the details of yet another Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) frequently used in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) by Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs). It’s called Task Analysis. The name might sound complex, but it is actually a rather simple strategy to understand. What Task Analysis entails, is breaking a skill down into sequentially ordered steps, so they can be taught one step at a time. Think of Task Analysis as creating an instruction manual to complete a task.

In our everyday lives, we complete long strings of behaviors in order to accomplish tasks without giving much thought to it. The act of brushing your teeth alone is comprised of a whopping 22 steps or more! Check it out…

  1. Get your toothbrush.
  2. Turn on the faucet.
  3. Get your toothbrush wet.
  4. Turn off the faucet.
  5. Get the toothpaste.
  6. Take the cap off the toothpaste.
  7. Squeeze the toothpaste on the toothbrush.
  8. Put the cap back on toothpaste.
  9. Brush the inside surfaces of your teeth on top and bottom.
  10. Brush the bitting surfaces of your teeth on top and bottom.
  11. Brush the outside surfaces of your teeth on top and bottom.
  12. Spit in the sink.
  13. Brush your tongue.
  14. Turn on the faucet.
  15. Rinse your toothbrush.
  16. Put the toothbrush away.
  17. Grab a cup.
  18. Fill the cup with water.
  19. Rinse your teeth with water.
  20. Spit the water out.
  21. Put the cup away.
  22. Turn off the faucet.

That’s a lot for an individual with autism to take in all at once. Students with autism learn best when they are given small teachable units of information to process one at a time.

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Here are some things to remember when creating a Task Anaysis:

Consistency: Not everyone brushes their teeth in the same way, there is naturally going to be variations to the way a task is completed. The team, consisting of the Behavior Technicians, along with the parents of the child you’re working with, need to agree upon a set procedure for how a task will be performed and write the individual steps down clearly for all to follow.

Tailor-Made: We all have our strengths and weaknesses. When building a task analysis, it is important to consider the skill sets of the child you are working with, this way you know if you need to break steps down into very small sections or if you can group steps together. It will also give you an idea if the skill should be taught starting at the beginning or at the end, and what form of prompting should be used.

Do The Task Yourself: Completing the task yourself while you write your task analysis is very important. You’ll be surprised just how many steps you may leave out unknowingly if you don’t walk through the completion of the steps yourself.

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