Specifically for autistic children, “prompting” is widely used as a term to describe auxiliary or artificial stimuli used to increase the likelihood children will respond adequately.
Prompts or prompting procedures could be classified into different categories by different standards. According to MacDuff et al. (1993), commonly used prompts include:
- Verbal prompts, such as words, questions and verbal demonstrations used to help learners engage;
- Modeling prompts, showing an example or demonstrating the appropriate response;
- Gesture prompts, such as pointing, nodding towards somewhere to indicate some information;
- Manual prompts, including physical contact to direct learners to display certain behaviours.
Some other prompts like visual or photographic prompts, textual prompts are also being widely used. Prompts are often combined for best results.
What is more, in order to effectively use prompts, besides selecting appropriate prompts, it is also very important to “remove” prompts so that eventually children with difficulties could independently compete the tasks (see Tom’s class and Huda’s class).
There are some prompt-fading strategies:
- Increasing Assistance, or Least-to-Most Prompts
The instructor offers prompts following progressive order, i.e. starts from minimal assistance and gradually increases assistance if the prompts do not work, until learners respond correctly.
- Decreasing Assistance, or Most-to-Least Prompts The instructor provides prompts following descending order, i.e. the learners would receive whatsoever assistance needed to complete the task at the outset, then assistance is reduced gradually as long as it could help learners finish the task, until no prompts.
- Delayed Prompts would be provided some time later after the naturally occurring task has taken place;
- Graduated Guidance
Manual prompts provided would be changing in intensity or location, from hand- over-hand instruction to less forceful direction.
All in all, selecting the right prompts and prompt-fading strategies would effectively lead to the learner’s independent appropriate response. Even if these suggestions are created for SEN they could be used with every student.