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Prompting And Fading

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					              SUPPORTED                                      INCLUSION


    Prompting And Fading
    Prompting and fading are two important teaching          1. Full Physical – hand-over-hand
    techniques that can (and should) be used in every-       2. Partial Physical – touching the child’s elbow,
    day activities such as tidying up after play, learning   wrist, shoulder etc. to prompt movement
    self-help skills like brushing teeth, and appropriate
    social skills in the playground.                         3. Modeling – demonstrating the action or skill
                                                             desired and tapping into the child’s imitation skills
    What do the terms mean?
                                                             4. Gestural – pointing, nodding, or gazing at an
    A Prompt is a cue or hint meant to help a child          item to provide a cue as to the action wanted
    to perform a desired behaviour, skill, or part of a
    skill. Prompts can be as permanent as stop signs         5. Positional - either placing the child where
    that signal our need to decelerate our car, to gradu-    learned cues in the environment prompt the behav-
    ally fading prompts such as reducing the amount          iour (e.g., placing the child in front of the wash-
    of hand over hand assistance used to teach a child       room door to prompt using the toilet) OR
    to cut with a pair of scissors. PROMPTING just            - positioning an item related to the skill in view of
    means “using prompts”.                                   the child to prompt action (e.g., bringing shoes over
                                                             to the child may prompt him to go to his cubby to
    Like crutches for a person with a broken ankle,          begin dressing to go home).
    prompts serve only to support the child while de-
    veloping the new skill. Weaning a child off prompts      When teaching a new skill you will use the MOST
    quickly will ensure that the skill will develop          AMOUNT OF PROMPTING NEEDED to ensure
    and that the child will not become dependent on          learning the steps of the skill. If the skill is new to
    the “crutch”. This is FADING. It is a process of         the child, you may need to provide full physical
    gradually reducing the need, strength or level of the    assistance initially to get the job done. If the child
    prompt. Using the example “tying shoe laces”, you        can do part of the task already or uses a similar
    might gently touch the child’s wrist to encourage        skill, you may find a visual prompt, such as the
    him to pull the lace loops apart to create the knot      picture of the next step, is enough to teach the step.
    (rather than using a higher degree of assistance         Helping too much can sometimes be a problem. It
    such as hand-over-hand assistance).                      is important to find the right balance.

    The prompts (cues and assistance) given to help          How do you get started using
    a child do all, or part of, a new skill range from       prompting and fading?
    the strongest and hardest to fade (get rid of) to the
    weakest and easiest to get rid of.                       There are five simple steps to remember:

    The following is a guide to the different levels         1. Define target behaviour (action, skill, or partial
    and types of support or prompts that can be              steps). Through TASK ANALYSIS, the steps to
    used to teach new skills.                                performing a skill to be taught are determined.

    1 (most or strongest) – 5 (least or weakest)             2. Identify suitable prompts. Go through the

Supported Inclusion - Tip Sheet                                                                               page 1 of 2
    Prompting And Fading, continued
    steps of the task analysis with the child and deter-      instruct the child on that skill.
    mine the most amount of prompting (cues, assis-           5. Return to a stronger prompt when neces-
    tance) needed to get through each step. It may be         sary. Sometimes you might think that a step has
    that different steps of the skill need different levels   been learned and then discover the next day that
    of prompting. Prompts will change as the child            the child is struggling. At these times, it is OK
    begins to learn the steps.                                to give a previous, stronger level of prompting
                                                              until the child is showing that she can do that step
    3. Prompt, reinforce, and fade. The reason for            proficiently again. Remember to quickly move to a
    prompting behaviour is so that you can reinforce it       lesser prompt as soon as possible.
    using praise or any other reward that will motivate
    learning. Give the child time to respond. Unless          It sometimes takes a little practice to feel comfort-
    you are using direct hand-over-hand assistance,           able using these techniques, but making prompting
    after presenting a lesser prompt (e.g., Modeling),        and fading part of your daily teaching toolkit is a
    it is best to wait a few seconds before prompting         useful way to help all children learn new skills.
    again. The reason for waiting is to see whether the
    child will attempt a correct response. That will let
    you know what prompt level to use. As the child
    begins to demonstrate the action you want, begin
    to fade the prompt by being less “hands on” with
    your assistance and provide more subtle cues such
    as gestures, etc.

    4. Monitor results. This is essential to know if
    you are progressing satisfactorily. Keep a log of
    which prompts are being used at each step of the
    task analysis so that you don’t accidentally provide
    too little or too much prompting the next time you

     For more information:
     • Read about more teaching techniques like Task Analysis and Shaping and Chaining Behaviour.
     • Visit our workshops on Reinforcement and our two part series on Understanding and Changing Behaviour
       - Why does he do that? and Planning for Change.

Supported Inclusion - Tip Sheet                                                                              page 2 of 2