What is it? Initiation is starting or beginning the next action or step without hesitation (AOTA, 2014, p. S25), so task initiation is an executive functioning skill that enables a person to start a task, perform a task, and succeed (The OT Toolbox, 2018).
Why is it important? Task initiation is a skill necessary to function in all areas of life; it is needed for everything from small tasks to bigger, more important occupations including:
- Activities of daily life (dressing, bathing, grooming, toileting, functional mobility, feeding)
- Health management (working out, taking medication, making doctor’s appointments)
- Home management (cleaning, paying bills, etc.)
- Academic performance (doing homework, participating in class, interacting with peers)
- Acquiring a job and performing well in it
- Play and leisure activities
- Meal preparation
- Building and sustaining relationships
- Sleep preparation
5 activities to try at home:
1. Using a timer.
Tip: Set a timer for a period of time for your child to initiate and start a task, especially if it is a non-preferred task such as cleaning their room. Start with setting the timer for a short increment of time, such as 5 minutes, and increase it over time as their initiation skills improve.
2. Using a checklist.
Tip: Task initiation may feel overwhelming for a child, so try breaking down the task into smaller parts and creating a checklist they can visually reference and check off as they begin and complete the task.
3. Picking out a fun activity for the day!
Tip: On days where you and your child are spending time together, allow them to think of a new activity they want to try together.
4. Playing follow the leader.
Tip: Allow your child to be the leader so they can initiate and carry out their own idea of where to go!
5. Thinking of new ideas at the grocery store.
Tip: Have your child initiate finding a new recipe they want to try, or finding a new ingredient at the store to use for a novel, fun meal idea!
American Occupational Therapy Association. (2014). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process (3rd ed.). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(Suppl. 1), S1-S48.
The OT Toolbox. (2018). Task initiation executive functioning strategies. Retrieved from http://www.theottoolbox.com/2017/03/task-initiation-executive-functioning-strategies.html