6 Types of Prompts Used in ABA Therapy

What is a prompt?

Prompts are instructions, gestures, demonstrations, touches, or other things that we arrange or do to increase the likelihood that children will make correct responses. In other words, it is a specific form of assistance given by an adult before or as the learner attempts to use a skill. Prompting procedures provide a systematic way of providing and removing prompts so that the learner begins to perform skills independently. These procedures rely on reinforcing correct responses that are both prompted and not prompted.

Types of Prompts

1. Gestural Prompt

Using a gesture or any type of action the learner can observe the instructor doing, such as pointing, reaching, or nodding, to give information about the correct response.

2. Full Physical Prompt

Physically guiding the learner’s hands to complete the task thoroughly. Also known as hand-over-hand assistance and is considered the most intrusive prompt.

3. Partial Physical Prompt

The instructor provides some assistance to guide the learner through part of the requested activity. It is less intrusive than a full physical prompt.

4. Verbal Prompt

A verbal prompt involves telling the learner the answer, giving a verbal cue, such as, the beginning sound of the answer, and/or giving the direction more than once.

5. Visual Prompt

A visual prompt is a picture or cue that the student sees which provides information about the correct answer. Can involve a visual schedule, video, photograph, drawing, flashing a card with the right answer, etc.

6. Positional Prompt

A positional prompt involves the instructor placing the correct response closest to the learner or in a manner that assists in giving information about the answer.

It is important to always use the least amount of prompting necessary to accomplish the goal and the least intrusive whenever possible. You want to avoid having the learner become “prompt-dependent,” relying on the prompt to get the job done. You can utilize prompts when the learner is about to respond with an incorrect response, responds with an incorrect response, or doesn’t respond at all (~3 sec). There are various types of prompts, to accommodate different learning styles and abilities.

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