How is Prompting Used in Pediatric ABA Therapy?

All children develop unique ways of communicating and interacting with others. While some children thrive on the social aspects of school, there are others who find social settings to be anxiety-provoking and overstimulating. Children with autism spectrum disorder can become especially stressed by social settings and require additional support with developing appropriate interactions. Throughout the course of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, prompting can be a helpful tool to encourage positive, socially significant behaviors.

What is Prompting?
In the scope of pediatric ABA therapy, prompting involves saying something to encourage a child to use a particular behavior or skill. A prompt is typically a cue to reinforce a behavior or skill that is being targeted in ABA therapy. This might be either a verbal cue or a gesture, but it is also possible for the therapist to provide physical assistance as a prompt (e.g. putting the child’s hand on the correct item). A full list of prompt types: visual, verbal, gestural, modeling, partial physical, and full physical. Depending on the abilities and needs of each child, some methods of prompting may be more effective than others, but visual prompts tend to be most successful.

There are three steps in prompting:

  1. The antecedent (cue)
  2. The target behavior
  3. The consequence

The goal of prompting is to build positive behaviors with the support of an adult. Once the child exhibits the behavior with the help of prompting in ABA therapy, the next goal is for the child to be able to exhibit the behavior without the use of prompting. An example of prompting is showing a picture of someone raising their hand to prompt the child to raise their hand when they would like to get their teacher’s attention in school.

Who uses prompting?
Prompting can be used in a variety of settings with adults who are helping the child with autism to build their positive behaviors. Adults who may use prompting are ABA therapists, caregivers, early interventionists, and parents.

Why is prompting helpful for children with autism?
Prompting is useful in ABA therapy for children who are on the autism spectrum and require additional structure for acquiring socially significant skills. This method is successful because it helps the child to provide the correct response to the cue. As the child progresses with the skill, they eventually become more independent and successful in their social interactions.

How is prompting used in ABA therapy?
ABA therapy can be extremely helpful for children with autism spectrum disorder who struggle with social situations and interactions. Through the use of prompting ABA therapists can reinforce positive behaviors when a child provides the appropriate response to the prompt. ABA therapists can discourage incorrect or inappropriate responses to the prompt. By providing feedback in a consistent and encouraging manner, ABA therapists can help children on the spectrum to build positive behaviors.


Want to learn more about prompting?
Are you interested in ABA services for your child in the Chicago area? Contact us or call (773) 630-4400 to learn more about the range of services we provide for children who are on the autism spectrum at Chicago ABA Therapy, including applied behavior analysis therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology.