What is Task Performance?
Written by Cheri Dotterer
A few weeks ago, I began a series on CAPS. Control – Accuracy – Precision – Speed.
We’ve been talking about control. Last week, I share an example of how to use the whole classroom to improve postural control for all students. Today, I am looking at the individual student.
OTs are taught the 90-90-90 posture in college. What that means is the hips, knees, and ankles each make a right angle. Feet are flat on floor. Have you looked at every student in your classroom? Do their feet touch the floor? Not just their toes, but their heels too? Do the chairs in your classroom make them sit backward or encourage them to sit forward?
I want you to try this. Sit on various chairs: kitchen, school lunchroom, hard surface, soft surface, etc.; any chair that allows you to put your feet on the floor.
Where do you sit on the seat, so your heels touch the floor? Front? Back? Side? Where’s your back? Which chair is most comfortable? Can you identify why?
Now, sit with your feet on the floor, and place your back against the chair back and try to eat a bite of food (don’t try drinking here). How does that feel? Safe? Comfortable? Awkward? Scary?
Consider these feelings when I child is hesitant about sitting properly in the classroom. You have the advantage of mature executive function and can process the feelings. Children cannot. All they feel is that the chair is uncomfortable.
In addition to the 90-90-90 posture, they also need core stability and postural control to lean forward slightly to eat and write. Their elbows must rest comfortably on the desk or table. In addition to lower body posture, the upper body needs the proper positioning too. To engage in use of the arms, the body must be in a task performance position. That means, the upper body needs to lean slightly forward without slumping. Once you slump, your pelvis is no longer in the proper position.
If you have a student in the classroom that always wants to stand, look at how they are sitting. Can they achieve a task performance position? If not, get a full OT evaluation.
In the ideal world, we would have adjustable desks and chairs for all students. We don’t. Do you best to help all students succeed. Examine their desk and chair.
Next week, I will be talking about paper.