Task Analysis has been one of the most helpful techniques I have used with students who have autism. Task Analysis also called “chaining” is part of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
What is Task Analysis?: A task analysis is used to break complex tasks into a sequence of smaller steps or actions.
For students with autism, everyday simple tasks such as washing hands and tying shoes can become complex challenges. Below is an example of a task analysis visual created for a student with autism to support hand washing:
This routine has been broken down into five steps:
- Turn on water 2. Get Soap 3. Wash Hands 4. Turn Water Off 5. Dry Hands
Students may need more or fewer steps broken down within any routine.
- Before creating a task analysis, conduct an initial assessment to determine the student’s baseline or what they are already able to do by themselves. If we use hand washing as an example, ask the student to “go wash your hands”. Note any and all steps students are able to perform independently.
- Break the routine down based on the assessment, needs of the student and their age. Older students for example may only forget to dry their hands so a two-part (wash hands, dry hands) may be appropriate. Do not provide more support than needed.
- Teach students using a process of forward or backwards chaining. For forward chaining, you would only ask the student to complete the first step by themselves. The additional steps are prompted and supported by the teacher. With backwards chaining, if the student is able to do the last step (dry hands) independently, you would provide all of the support until the last step which would be completed by the student independently.
- Appropriate prompting levels depend on the student’s needs. Some common prompts include point prompts, physical prompt,s and verbal prompts. Fade your prompts as soon as you can because the gaol is always for students to be independent.
Below is an example of a data sheet for conducting an initial assessment. Data is subsequently recorded on a periodic basis.
This video gives examples of Task Analysis: What are some routines you could break down into smaller steps for your students with autism?