Cordovan Stitch and How to Use it to Identify Levels of the Allen’s Cognitive Test

To determine whether a person’s cognitive functioning is within the ACL 4.4. and 5.8, operational therapists use the tool called the Single Cordovan Stitch. It is the third and the most difficult task in the Allen Cognitive Level Screen aimed at assessing an individual’s ability to process information.

The Single Cordovan Stitch is used when it is necessary to find out whether a person can have an employment, look after others, drive or in general learn and solve problems.

Claudia Allen added to her Cognitive Disabilities Model a test based on sewing stitches in the 1970s. Now it is referred to as the Allen Cognitive Level Screen (ACLS). Of all the tasks included in the test (the Running Stitch, the Whipstitch and the Single Cordovan Stitch), the Cordovan Stitch is the most complex one. It is not only because the stitch is more difficult to do than the others. Unlike in the previous tasks, the participant should try to complete this one without a demonstration or cues. At least the administrator is not in a hurry to offer them.

While introducing the task, the administrator just shows a sample of the cordovan stitch and asks whether the person can do it on his or her own. There may follow different sequences of actions depending on the person’s reaction to the task.

  1. If the person looks perplexed or even panics and refuses to try, help should be offered. In case of consent, start to demonstrate and comment your actions in detail. Explain how to insert the needle, to form a loop, to push the needle through it and to tighten the stitch. Draw the person’s attention to what the completed single cordovan stitch looks like and that the lace should not be twisted. Repeat until there are three stitches.
  2. When the person gets down to the task without being shown how to do it, offer assistance (a verbal cue) some time later. This may be a tip concerning just one step, for example, “Go over the edge now”. Or just point out the error. Wait until the person figures it out. If such assistance is of no help, offer a demonstration.

Decision on what assistance to offer (a demonstration, a verbal cue or both) and when is taken after careful observation. Does the person look disappointed or lost? Is he or she going to quit? The number of demonstrations and cues is strictly limited. Thus, there may be only two demonstrations and one verbal cue. Provide assistance only when there is a need in it.

When the participant makes the same mistake again, it is time to offer another demonstration.

If people insist on more demonstrations, do not refuse them, though additional demonstrations, i.e. more than two, should not be taken into account when scoring.

If possible, avoid answering the participant’s questions directly so as not to give a solution. For example, in answer to the questions “Is it OK?” or “What is incorrect?” you may ask what he or she thinks and suggest comparing his or her stitches with yours. If the person thinks that his or her result is not right, ask to show you what exactly is wrong and maybe to fix it, “Can you do it in another way?” The idea of the Single Cordovan Stitch task is that participants are to solve problems themselves.

Encourage the participant to complete three stitches, “Keep trying”, “Do your best”, “It is better now”, “Most people try to do it”, etc. If the stitches are correct, score them. Interestingly enough, people sometimes manage to complete two stitches, yet, it does not mean that they have learned how to make them.

The administrator finishes the assessment when:

  • the participant completes three stitches correctly;
  • the participant does not complete the required number of stitches and his or her behavior as far as problem-solving is concerned remains ineffective;
  • attempts to encourage the participant have failed and he or she won’t try or even ask to finish the assessment.

The person’s behavior during the screen should be noted down.

All the necessary things for the Single Cordovan Stitch screen are available in the ACLS leather lacing kit.

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