Assessing Meaningful Versus Nonmeaningful Task Participation
Once criteria have been established for meaningful versus nonmeaningful tasks as described in Chapter 4, Specifying Criteria for Meaningful Versus Nonmeaningful Activities, the next step of the protocol for improving the meaningfulness of center-based services involves assessing task participation of consumers. The assessment should occur in an objective and systematic manner that allows for quantitative analysis of the degree of participation in meaningful versus nonmeaningful tasks. The assessment is needed for three primary reasons.
The first reason for conducting an assessment is to determine where intervention might be needed to improve meaningful task participation. In most center-based programs, there are some tasks in which participants are involved that are meaningful and some that are not meaningful based on the established guidelines. The initial intent with the assessment is to identify those situations within usual center routines that involve nonmeaningful tasks for participants.
The second reason for the assessment is to establish a baseline regarding the level of meaningful task involvement. The baseline is necessary to allow an evaluation of subsequent steps taken to increase meaningful task involvement (i.e., to ensure such involvement increases satisfactorily over the baseline level). In this manner, baseline assessment data along with data subsequently collected after implementation of the intervention steps provides a local evidence base for demonstrating the effectiveness of the change process. The assessment process and action steps should continue until the data indicate desired effectiveness. Periodic assessment should then continue over time as part of the process to maintain improvement (see chapter: Maintaining Meaningful Activity Participation).
Quality Activities in Center-Based Programs for Adults with Autism. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-809409-9.00005-8
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A third reason for systematic assessment is to allow a center to compare its provision of meaningful task involvement to that of other center-based programs. Practitioners and supervisors working in a respective center can compare their participant involvement in meaningful tasks with that of other centers using normative data. Use of normative data can help an agency establish goals to strive for and to socially validate the meaningfulness of its services on a comparative basis with other centers (see Parsons, Rollyson, & Reid, 2004; Reid et al., in press, for a discussion of the benefits of using normative data when assessing meaningful task participation).
The assessment process involves several components. The first is direct observation, or monitoring, of the type of task participation of individuals present in a center-based program. The second involves summarizing the data obtained from the monitoring. The third component then consists of evaluating the summarized data and determining whether the level of meaningful task involvement is satisfactory or warrants improvement.