Types of Prompting

Prompting is an important way for any child to learn how to do something. Many kids without special needs can learn just by seeing someone do it. Most children with special needs need to be taught specifically how to do you usually through different types of prompting.

Physical Prompting

  • Full physical-you physically guide the child through the entire task, usually at the hand
    • Given a direction to clap-you take the child’s hands and clap their hands for them
  • Partial physical
    • Given a direction to clap-you touch the child at the elbow or forearm and if needed gently guide their arms in

Verbal Prompting

It is important the child understand echoics or imitating verbal responses when you use verbal prompting for some responses

  • Full verbal-You say the full answer for the child to repeat
    • When you ask “what is your name” you say their name (Joe)
  • Partial verbal-You say the beginning part of the answer which cues the child to give the full answer
    • When you ask “what is your name” you say the first part of their name (J)


Positional-You place the correct item the child needs to identify closer to the child than the other items on the table

  • When asked to touch the car, the car is directly in front of the child and the other items on the table are a placed 5 or 6 inches further back on the table

Gestural-You make a movement (a point, a wave, a gesture) to cue the response

  • When asked to touch the car, you point to the car

Visual-You provide a visual that represents how the child is to respond

  • You ask the child what says moo-you hold up a picture of a cow-they say cow
  • You ask the child to touch the car-you hold up a car or a picture of a car.

Most to least hierarchy

  • Best used for young children learning many new skills
  • Starts by using the biggest prompt and fading to the lowest
  • Always use the lowest prompt necessary

Least to most hierarchy

  • Starts by using minimal prompting and increasing if needed
  • Use for previously learned skills
  • May be beneficial for communication skills

Tips for prompting

  • Decrease prompts as quickly as possible still maintaining success.
  • Decreasing after a few trials-if the child is not successful after a couple of trials increase prompt level
  • Decreasing after a couple of trials-if the child is not successful after a session at the prompt level increase the prompt level
  • If your child shows signs of prompt dependency (waiting for the prompt, not performing or making an attempt unless they are prompted) it is important to use minimal prompts only when necessary and fade as quickly as possible. Provide a short delay before initiating a prompt.
  • Be consistent-Do not allow your child to error if they should be provided a prompt.
  • Ensure the child is attending even when prompting

September 1, 2012 This post was written by Categories: Learning Information No comments yet

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