Task analysis is the evidence-based practice of breaking a complex task down into smaller, more teachable steps. Many of the everyday behaviours that we perform without even thinking, such as washing our hands or putting on our clothes, are really quite complex and comprised of many smaller, discrete steps that we perform in a certain order. These tasks may be quite daunting for children with special educational needs. By completing a task analysis and presenting the task in smaller, manageable steps, our children are more likely able to master the skill.


Why task analysis?

  1. Clear, precise steps – By completing a task analysis, the skill is presented in a detailed, step by step manner and the chance of error is significantly reduced. Think of it like following a recipe!
  2. Consistency – A task analysis ensures that all family members are teaching the skill in the same way.
  3. Individualised – How a task is broken down is completely individualised and depends on the particular child. Some children may require more steps than others and a task analysis should take into account the child’s age, skill level, communication and processing abilities.
  4. Comprehensive – Can be used to teach a variety of behaviours ranging from self-help skills to academic tasks.


How to complete a task analysis?

  1. Determine the target behaviour (e.g. wash hands independently).
  2. Try to complete the task yourself or observe someone else do it and record all the steps.
  3. Determine the steps required (e.g. (a) turn on the tap (b) put your hands under the water (c) rub your hands (d) turn off the tap (e) get a towel and dry your hands).
  4. Teach your child step by step.
  5. Monitor your child’s performance. Prompt them if needed and praise them for good work!