What are prompts?

  • Prompts are supplemental teaching aids that are added to a situation to increase the likelihood of our children responding correctly.
  • Learning new tasks requires effective use of prompts to ensure the child knows how to perform the skill without becoming frustrated and without wasting precious instructional time. Prompts are essential!


Types of prompts:

  • (Full/Partial) Physical Prompt: Instructor provides physical contact to guide the learner through the entire requested activity.
    Example: Teacher asks learner, “Clap your hands.”
    Teacher prompts learner by holding each of the learner’s hands in his and then moving the learners hands through the entire action of hand-clapping.
  • Gestural Prompt: Can include pointing, nodding or any other type of action the learner can watch his instructor do.
    Example: Teacher asks learner, “What is something you drink from?”
    Teacher prompts learner by pointing to a cup.
  • (Full/Partial) Verbal Prompt: The instructor provides the learner with a spoken, complete or part response to the question just asked.
    Example: Teacher asks learner, “What comes after Thursday?”
    Teacher prompts learner by stating “Friday.” or “Fr”
  • Textual or Written Prompt: This can be in the way of a list or some other type of written instruction or cue.
    Example: Teacher asks learner, “Do your chores.”
    Teacher prompts learner by presenting him with a written checklist of his chores.
  • Visual Prompt: A visual prompt can include a video, photograph or drawing paper, a whiteboard, or an electronic device.
    Example: Teacher asks learner, “Clap your hands.”
    Teacher prompts learner by playing a video of a person clapping his hands.
  • Auditory Prompt: This can include any type of sound the learner can hear like an alarm or timer.
    Example: Teacher asks learner, “Clean up your toys in 5 minutes.”
    Teacher prompts learner by setting a timer to go off in 5 minutes.


Helpful tips:

  • Always use the least amount of prompting necessary to get the job done. This is important in order to avoid having your learner become “prompt-dependent”.
  • Use prompts that are the least intrusive whenever possible. A gestural prompt, for example, is much less intrusive than a physical prompt so if you feel that a gestural prompt will do the trick, use it.
  • Be sure to fade prompts as quickly as possible to try to reduce prompt-dependency.