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 MODULE: Time Delay

Are Any Assessments Needed Before Using Time Delay?

Before implementing a time delay procedure, team members should assess a learner’s current skills. For example, several prerequisite skills are needed before time delay procedures can be used with individual learners with ASD. These prerequisite skills include the ability to:

  • respond to the instructional cue (e.g., learner looks in the direction of the teacher/interventionist when the initial cue is presented),
  • wait for a certain number of seconds,
  • imitate others,
  • stay seated during instructional activities,
  • increase positive behaviors in response to reinforcers (e.g., learner has history of using behaviors more frequently when reinforcers are provided), and
  • follow one-step instructions (Kurt & Tekin-Iftar, 2008; Walker, 2008).

When teaching chained tasks, team members should develop task analyses to identify the individual behaviors that comprise the task (Kurt & Tekin-Iftar, 2008; Schuster et al., 1998). For example, a teacher might identify the following behaviors that make up the chained task of putting on one’s coat:

  • taking picture card from teacher,
  • going to locker,
  • taking coat off hook in locker,
  • putting arms in sleeves, and
  • zipping coat.

When teaching chained tasks such as this, team members generally teach the first behavior in the chain using time delay before teaching subsequent behaviors in the task. Please refer to Task Analysis: Steps for Implementation (National Professional Development Center on ASD, 2008) for more information about task analysis.

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