The Allen Cognitive Level Screen (ACL Screen)1 is a standardized, theory-, performance-, and evidence-based assessment of functional cognition associated with the cognitive disabilities model2,3 (CDM). It is administered by occupational therapy and other healthcare practitioners with persons who have known or suspected cognitive impairments that may impact safe and successful performance of everyday activities. The Screen provides a quick estimate of global functional cognitive capacity, including learning potential, and functional performance abilities that require that capacity. This estimate is inferred from observation of a person using the administrator’s verbal and demonstrated directions to problem-solve, learn, and complete three visuospatial-motor stitching tasks of increasing cognitive complexity – the Running Stitch, the Whipstitch, and the Single Cordovan Stitch – on a leather or chipboard rectangle. Screen scores are criterion-referenced to levels/modes 3.0-5.8 on the Allen Cognitive Scale of Levels and Modes of Performance2,3 (Allen Cognitive Scale). Screen scores are verified with additional functional cognitive assessments as part of a comprehensive evaluation before being interpreted in the context of the cognitive disabilities model. This ensures that determination of a person’s level/mode of performance on the Allen Cognitive Scale is based on a pattern of observed performance and inferred functional cognitive capacity, as well as other person and contextual factors.

Version 5 of the screen is available in three forms: the standard Allen Cognitive Level Screen (ACLS-5) for general use, the Large Allen Cognitive Level Screen (LACLS-5) for persons with vision or hand function problems, and the Disposable LACLS (LACLS[D]-5) for persons with whom infection control is required. The Screen is untimed and takes approximately 15-30 minutes to administer.

All three forms are set-up, administered and scored using the NEWLY updated 2nd edition of the Manual for Version 5 of the Allen Cognitive Level Screen1 which is now available in a spiral-bound version in the store on this website as well as from other vendors.

For more information about the 2nd edition of the Manual, click Description of Manual for Version 5 of the Allen Cognitive Level Screen, 2nd Edition. This information, as well as other useful videos, downloadable PDFs, and FAQs related to the ACL Screen, Version 5 and the CDM are available under Resources on this website.


1Earhart, C. A., McCraith, D. B, & Riska-Williams, L. (2022). Manual for Version 5 of the Allen Cognitive Level Screen (2nd ed.). ACLS and LACLS Committee/Allen Cognitive Group.

2Allen, C., Earhart, C., & Blue, T. (1992). Occupational therapy treatment goals for the physically and cognitively disabled. Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press.

3McCraith, D. B, & Earhart, C.A. (2018). Cognitive Disabilities Model: Creating fit between functional cognitive abilities and cognitive activity demands. In N. Katz and J. Toglia (Eds.), Cognition, occupation, and participation across the lifespan: Neuroscience, neurorehabilitation, and models of intervention in occupational therapy (4th ed., pp. 469-497). AOTA Press.