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Tips for Using Prompting More Effectively


Prompts can be very effective tools for helping learners acquire and maintain target skills; however, learners with ASD are particularly at risk for becoming dependent upon team member use of prompts. For example, a learner with ASD may wait for a team member to use a verbal prompt (i.e., “Say, ‘More juice’”) before requesting more juice or snack. The following tips are provided so that team members can use prompting effectively to help learners acquire new skills while also preventing prompt dependence.

Prompts should be as minimal as possible. Team members should use the least restrictive prompt needed by the learner with ASD to complete a target skill successfully. For example, a team member should not use full physical prompting to help a learner write his name when a gentle touch on his hand may be sufficient to get him started. Team members identify the type and intensity of prompts based upon the unique characteristics and needs of individual learners with ASD. Often, appropriate prompts and intensity levels can be determined by observing what kind of help other learners with similar skills need to complete tasks. In general, visual and verbal prompts are less intrusive than modeling, and all are less intensive than physical prompting (Alberto & Troutman, 1999). 

Prompts should be faded as quickly as possible. Providing prompts to a learner with ASD longer than necessary often results in prompt dependence. That is, the learner waits for the team member to deliver the prompt before using the target skill.

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