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Commentary on Task Analyses Identify Coat-Donning Delays in Preschoolers in Special Education

Downey, Rebecca PT, DPT JFK Partners; Rapport, Mary June K. PT, DPT, PhD

Pediatric Physical Therapy: April 2011 - Volume 23 - Issue 1 - p 1
doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e318208a32d

School of Medicine University of Colorado

Physical Therapy Program, School of Medicine University of Colorado

“How should 1 apply this information?”

Component task analyses provide useful information in identifying the steps required to complete a skill. As demonstrated in this article, task analyses can also he used to promote increased consistency in documentation, track progress toward outcomes, and shape intervention strategies around a motor task necessary for independence. Although there are assessment tools to evaluate development of motor skills, these measures do not include the often-used “coat-flip” technique common among preschool children for donning coats. Neither do these assessments provide information about specific skill deficits or intervention strategies related to mastery of a functional activity that can be obtained from using a task analysis.

Independence with dressing has been shown to be related to increased self-esteem and children are expected to be independent by the age of 4 years. The authors demonstrated independent coat donning can be a difficult task to master for preschool-aged children with development delays who are in a preschool special education classroom. Although most 3-year olds who are typically developing are donning their coats independently, only 13% of the 3- to 5- year-old children in preschool special education classes in this study were independent in this same skill. In classrooms where multiple children require assistance for donning coats, the additional time required to complete this task may interfere with curriculum-based activities or the amount of available time for outdoor play.

Using a task analysis approach to assess coat donning may provide physical and occupational therapists with intervention strategies that can target specific steps in the coat- donning sequence and may in turn increase independence in preschool and school-aged children.

“What should 1 be mindful about in applying this information?”

Although this article demonstrated that children with developmental delays may not he independent in coat donning by kindergarten, these children may have varying levels of independence in other developmental skills including dressing. Some limitations in application oT this information include the ability to generalize findings Trom a single school district, lack oT access to specific intervention methods used to address donning and doffing oT coats, and lack of comparison to a group of children who are typically developing.

Copyright © 2011 Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy of the American Physical Therapy Association