Using Analog Tasks to Assess Children's Social Communication Skills

Academic Article


  • Purpose This tutorial addresses the use of analog tasks to assess social communication abilities in toddlers through adolescents. In analog tasks, clinicians manufacture situations that give rise to naturalistic social dilemmas (or dilemmas “analogous” to ones encountered in everyday interactions); the result is a sample of children's spontaneous, real-time, social communication performance, targeting specific behaviors of interest. Method/Results Potential social communication behaviors to be assessed and the critical impact of contextual factors on those behaviors are discussed. Next, analog tasks are defined, and their clinical benefits relative to other types of informal assessments are described. Several research-developed analog tasks, along with their key characteristics, are presented to illustrate these benefits and provide a starting place for clinicians to add analog tasks to their clinical toolbox. Finally, the process of developing analog tasks is described and applied in an example and associated case study, which together highlight the utility of analog tasks in identifying social communication deficits and potential strategies to facilitate intervention. Conclusions Improving clinicians' understanding, access to, and use of analog tasks will offer new ecologically valid assessment tools that efficiently capture representative and generalizable social communication performance and highlight specific strengths and weaknesses in context. Such results can provide a strong foundation for clinical decision making and improve the services provided to children with social communication disorders.
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • February 23, 2021
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 39
  • End Page

  • 54
  • Volume

  • 6
  • Issue

  • 1