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What Is Time Delay?


Time delay is a response prompting procedure that focuses on fading the use of prompts during instructional activities. With these procedures, prompts are provided before learners respond which reduces errors and provides more opportunities for reinforcement (Hughes & Fredrick, 2006; Telescan, Slaton, & Stevens, 1999; Walker, 2008). These prompts, also called controlling prompts, ensure that learners with ASD successfully use target skills (Alberto & Troutman, 1999). Controlling prompts can be verbal, written, gestural, model, or physical, but they should provide the least amount of help needed by the learner to use the target skill successfully (Riesen et al., 2003; Schuster et al., 1998; Walker, 2008). As learners become more independent in using target skills correctly, prompts are gradually faded so that learners respond to naturally occurring cues within the activity or environment rather than to the prompt itself (Walker, 2008).

All time delay procedures include the following three components that comprise a trial: (1) a cue that tells learners to use the target skill (antecedent), (2) learner response (target skill), and (3) feedback (consequence). These three components are critical to implementing time delay procedures effectively. Descriptions of each of these components are outlined below.

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